FreeCAD is a general purpose open source parametric 3D CAD modeler licensed under the LGPL License. FreeCAD is aimed directly at mechanical engineering and product design but, being very generic, also fits in a wider range of uses around engineering, such as architecture, finite element analysis, 3D printing, and other tasks.
FreeCAD features tools similar to CATIA, SolidWorks, Solid Edge or Revit, and therefore also falls into the category of CAD, PLM, CAx, CAE and BIM. It is a feature based parametric modeler with a modular software architecture making it possible to provide additional functionality without modifying the core system.
As with other CAD modelers it has many 2D components in order to sketch planar shapes or create production drawings. However, direct 2D drawing (like Inkscape or AutoCAD LT) is not the focus, neither are animation or mesh editing (like Blender, Maya, 3ds Max, or Cinema 4D). Nevertheless, thanks to its wide adaptability, FreeCAD is useful in a much broader area around its base feature set.
FreeCAD makes heavy use of open-source libraries that exist in the field of scientific computing. Among them are Open Cascade Technology (OCCT), a powerful CAD kernel; Coin3D, a toolkit for 3D graphics development compatible with Open Inventor; Qt, the world-famous user interface framework; and Python, a modern scripting language. FreeCAD itself can also be used as a library by other programs.
FreeCAD is also multi-platform, and currently runs on Linux/Unix, Windows, and macOS systems with the same look and functionality on all platforms.
About the FreeCAD project
The FreeCAD project was started as far back as 2001, as described on the history page.
FreeCAD is maintained and developed by a community of enthusiastic developers and users and is built through the patient work of hundreds of contributors, some regular, some occasional. Most work on FreeCAD as volunteers. The FreeCAD forum is where most of the ideas and decisions are discussed, and the GitHub repository is where the code is being kept, shared, discussed and worked on. Anybody is welcome to participate.
About the FPA
The FreeCAD project is also supported by a non-profit organization, the FreeCAD project association (FPA). The FPA is an independent body created by some FreeCAD veterans in 2021 to collect donations and other resources to support the project and its community, to help protect that community and allow it to continue developing in the best conditions, and to represent the project against other bodies such as companies and institutions.