- Discovering FreeCAD
- What is FreeCAD?
- The FreeCAD interface
- Navigating in the 3D view
- The FreeCAD document
- Parametric objects
- Import and export to other filetypes
- Working with FreeCAD
- All workbenches at a glance
- Traditional modeling, the CSG way
- Traditional 2D drafting
- Modeling for product design
- Preparing models for 3D printing
- Generating 2D drawings
- BIM modeling
- Using spreadsheets
- Creating FEM analyses
- Creating renderings
- Python scripting
- The community
One of the biggest difficulties for new users of FreeCAD, is to know in which workbench to find a specific tool. The table below will give you an overview of the most important workbenches and their tools. Refer to each workbench page in the FreeCAD documentation for a more complete list.
Four workbenches are also designed to work in pairs, and one of them is fully included into the other: Arch contains all the Draft tools, and PartDesign all the Sketcher tools. However, for clarity, they are separated below.
The Part Workbench provides basic tools for working with solid parts: primitives, such as cubes and spheres, and simple geometric operations and boolean operations. Being the main anchor point with OpenCasCade, the Part workbench provides the foundation of FreeCAD's geometry system, and almost all other workbenches produce Part-based geometry.
|Box||Draws a box||Cone||Draws a cone|
|Cylinder||Draws a cylinder||Sphere||Draws a sphere|
|Torus||Draws a torus (ring)||Create primitives||Creates various other parametric geometric primitives|
|Shape builder||Create more complex shapes from primitives||Union||Fuses (unions) two objects|
|Common||Extracts the common (intersection) part of two objects||Cut||Cuts (subtracts) one object from another|
|JoinConnect||Connects interiors of walled objects||JoinEmbed||Embeds a walled object into another walled object|
|JoinCutout||Creates a cutout in a wall of an object for another walled object||Extrude||Extrudes planar faces of an object|
|Fillet||Fillets (rounds) edges of an object||Revolve||Creates a solid by revolving another object (not solid) around an axis|
|Section||Creates a section by intersecting an object with a section plane||CrossSections||Creates multiple cross sections along an object|
|Chamfer||Chamfers edges of an object||Mirror||Mirrors the selected object on a given mirror plane|
|Ruled Surface||Create a ruled surface between selected curves||Sweep||Sweeps one or more profiles along a path|
|Part_Loft||Lofts from one profile to another||Offset||Creates a scaled copy of the original object|
|Thickness||Assign a thickness to the faces of a shape|
The Draft Workbench provides tools to do basic 2D CAD drafting tasks: lines, circles, etc... and a series of generic handy tools such as move, rotate or scale. It also provides several drawing aids, such as grid and snapping. It is principally meant to draw the guidelines for Arch objects, but also serves as FreeCAD's "swiss knife".
|Line||Draws a line segment between 2 points||Wire||Draws a line made of multiple line segments (polyline)|
|Circle||Draws a circle from center and radius||Arc||Draws an arc segment from center, radius, start angle and end angle|
|Ellipse||Draws an ellipse from two corner points||Polygon||Draws a regular polygon from a center and a radius|
|Rectangle||Draws a rectangle from 2 opposite points||Text||Draws a multi-line text annotation|
|Dimension||Draws a dimension annotation||BSpline||Draws a B-Spline from a series of points|
|Point||Inserts a single point||Shapestring||The ShapeString tool inserts a compound shape representing a text string at a given point in the current document|
|Facebinder||Creates a new object from selected faces on existing objects||Bezier Curve||Draws a Bezier curve from a series of points|
|Move||Moves or copies objects from one location to another||Rotate||Rotates objects by a certain angle around a point|
|Offset||Offsets an object to a certain distance||Trimex||Trims, extends or extrudes an object|
|Upgrade||Turns or joins objects into a higher-level object||Downgrade||Turns or separates objects into lower-level objects|
|Scale||Scales objects in relation to a point||Shape 2D View||Creates a 2D object which is a flattened view of another object|
|Draft to Sketch||Converts a Draft object to a Sketch and vice-versa||Array||Creates a rectangular array from an object|
|Clone||Creates linked copies of objects||Mirror||Mirrors objects across a line|
The Sketcher Workbench contains tools to build and edit complex 2D objects, called sketches. The geometry inside these sketches can be precisely positioned and relationed by the use of constraints. They are primarily meant to be the building blocks of PartDesign geometry, but are useful everywhere in FreeCAD.
|Point||Draws a point||Line||Draws a line segment from 2 points|
|Arc||Draws an arc segment from center, radius, start angle and end angle||Arc 3 points||Draws an arc segment from two endpoints and another point on the circumference|
|Circle||Draws a circle from center and radius||Circle 3 points||Draws a circle from three points on the circumference|
|Ellipse||Draws an ellipse by center point, major radius point and minor radius point||Ellipse 3 points||Draws an ellipse by major diameter (2 points) and minor radius point|
|Arc of ellipse||Draws an arc of ellipse by center point, major radius point, starting point and ending point||Polyline||Draws a line made of multiple line segments. Several drawing modes available|
|Rectangle||Draws a rectangle from 2 opposite points||Triangle||Draws a regular triangle inscribed in a construction geometry circle|
|Square||Draws a regular square inscribed in a construction geometry circle||Pentagon||Draws a regular pentagon inscribed in a construction geometry circle|
|Hexagon||Draws a regular hexagon inscribed in a construction geometry circle||Heptagon||Draws a regular heptagon inscribed in a construction geometry circle|
|Octagon||Draws a regular octagon inscribed in a construction geometry circle||Slot||Draws an oval by selecting the center of one semicircle and an endpoint of the other semicircle|
|Fillet||Makes a fillet between two lines joined at one point||Trimming||Trims a line, circle or arc with respect to a clicked point|
|External geometry||Creates an edge linked to external geometry||Construction mode||Toggles an element to/from construction mode. A construction object will not be used in a 3D geometry operation and is only visible while editing the Sketch that contains it|
|Coincident||Affixes a point onto (coincident with) one or more other points.||Point on object||Affixes a point onto another object such as a line, arc, or axis.|
|Vertical||Constrains the selected lines or polyline elements to a true vertical orientation. More than one object can be selected before applying this constraint.||Horizontal||Constrains the selected lines or polyline elements to a true horizontal orientation. More than one object can be selected before applying this constraint.|
|Parallel||Constrains two or more lines parallel to one another.||Perpendicular||Constrains two lines perpendicular to one another, or constrains a line perpendicular to an arc endpoint.|
|Tangent||Creates a tangent constraint between two selected entities, or a co-linear constraint between two line segments.||Equal length||Constrains two selected entities equal to one another. If used on circles or arcs their radii will be set equal.|
|Symmetric||Constrains two points symmetrically about a line, or constrains the first two selected points symmetrically about a third selected point.||Lock||Constrains the selected item by setting vertical and horizontal distances relative to the origin, thereby locking the location of that item|
|Horizontal distance||Fixes the horizontal distance between two points or line endpoints. If only one item is selected, the distance is set to the origin.||Vertical distance||Fixes the vertical distance between 2 points or line endpoints. If only one item is selected, the distance is set to the origin.|
|Distance||Defines the distance of a selected line by constraining its length, or defines the distance between two points by constraining the distance between them.||Radius||Defines the radius of a selected arc or circle by constraining the radius.|
|Internal angle||Defines the internal angle between two selected lines.||Map sketch||Maps a sketch to the previously selected face of a solid|
|Merge||Merge two or more sketches||Mirror||Mirrors selected elements of a sketch|
The Part Design Workbench contains advanced tools to build solid parts. It also contains all the tools from the sketcher. Since it can only produce solid shapes (the rule number one of Part Design), it is the main workbench to use when designing pieces (parts) to be manufactured or 3D-printed, as you will always obtain a printable object.
|Pad||Extrudes a solid object from a selected sketch||Creates a pocket from a selected sketch. The sketch must be mapped to an existing solid object's face|
|Revolution||Creates a solid by revolving a sketch around an axis||Groove||Creates a groove by revolving a sketch around an axis|
|Fillet||Fillets (rounds) edges of an object||Chamfer||Chamfers edges of an object|
|Draft||Applies angular draft to faces of an object||Mirrored||Mirrors features on a plane or face|
|Linear pattern||Creates a linear pattern of features||Polar pattern||Creates a polar pattern of features|
|Scaled||Scales features to a different size||Multitransform||Allows creating a pattern with any combination of the other transformations|
|Shaft wizard||Generates a shaft from a table of values and allows to analyze forces and moments||Involute gear wizard||Allows you to create several types of gears|
The Arch Workbench contains tools to work with BIM projects (civil engineering and architecture). It also contains all the tools from the Draft workbench. The main use of the Arch Workbench is to create BIM objects or give BIM attributes to objects built with other workbenches, in order to export them to IFC.
|Wall||Creates a wall from scratch or using a selected object as a base||Structure||Creates a structural element from scratch or using a selected object as a base|
|Rebar||Creates a reinforcement bar in a selected structural element||Floor||Creates a floor including selected objects|
|Building||Creates a building including selected objects||Site||Creates a site including selected objects|
|Window||Creates a window using a selected object as a base||Section plane||Adds a section plane object to the document|
|Axis||Adds an axes system to the document||Roof||Creates a sloped roof from a selected face|
|Space||Creates a space object in the document||Stairs||Creates a stairs object in the document|
|Panel||Creates a panel object from a selected 2D object||Frame||Creates a frame object from a selected layout|
|Equipment||Creates an equipment or furniture object||Material||Attributes a material to selected objects|
|Schedule||Creates different types of schedules||Cut plane||Cut an object according to a plan|
|Add||Adds objects to a component||Remove||Subtracts or removes objects from a component|
|Survey||Enters or leaves surveying mode|
Other built-in workbenches
Although the above summarizes the most important tools of FreeCAD, many more workbenches are available, among them:
- The TechDraw Workbench for producing technical drawings from 3D models.
- The Mesh Workbench allows to work with polygon meshes. Although meshes are not the preferred type of geometry to work with in FreeCAD, because of their lack of precision and support for curves, meshes still have a lot of uses, and are fully supported in FreeCAD. The Mesh Workbench also offers a number of Part-to-Mesh and Mesh-to-Part tools.
- The Raytracing Workbench offers tools to interface with external renderers such as povray or luxrender. Right from inside FreeCAD, this workbench allows you to produce high-quality renderings from your models.
- The Spreadsheet Workbench permits the creation and manipulation of spreadsheet data, that can be extracted from FreeCAD models. Spreadsheet cells can also be referenced in many areas of FreeCAD, allowing to use them as master data structures.
- The FEM Workbench deals with Finite Elements Analysis, and permits the performing of pre- and post-processing FEM calculations and to display the results graphically.
A number of other very useful workbenches produced by FreeCAD community members also exist. Although they are not included in a standard FreeCAD installation,they are easy to install as plug-ins. They are all referenced in the FreeCAD-addons repository. Among the most developed are:
- The Drawing Dimensioning Workbench offers many new tools to work directly on Drawing Sheets and allow you to add dimensions, annotations and other technical symbols with great control over their aspect. The Drawing Dimensioning Workbench is no longer maintained.
- The Fasteners Workbench offers a wide range of ready-to-insert fasteners objects like screws, bolts, rods, washers and nuts. Many options and settings are available.
- The A2plus workbench offers a series of tools to mount and work with assemblies.
- The complete list of workbenches
- The Part Workbench
- The Draft Workbench
- The Sketcher and Part Design Workbench
- The Arch Workbench
- The TechDraw Workbench
- The FEM Workbench
- The FreeCAD-addons repository