Manual:Introduction

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FreeCAD is an open-source, free parametric 3D computer-aided design (CAD) modelling tool used to create objects ranging from simple designs to complex projects consisting of extensive assemblies of numerous parts. Due to its open-source nature, FreeCAD can be freely downloaded, distributed, modified, and used for both personal and commercial purposes. The source code is openly published under the LGPL license. This makes FreeCAD an appealing option not only for relatively inexperienced users, such as hobbyists in the 3D printing world, but also for experienced users looking to experiment with a different parametric tool.

The software was initially released in its infancy in 2002. Since then, thanks to the continuous contributions from a devoted community of developers and users, FreeCAD has grown slowly but steadily. The passionate efforts of numerous contributors have not only improved FreeCAD's capabilities as a CAD tool but have also led to the development of additional functionalities in separate domains closely tied to the base FreeCAD suite. Some notable examples include the FEM workbench, which enables the execution of simple Finite Element Analysis, as well as the BIM workbench which offers Building Information Modeling (BIM) capabilities.

This user manual is being written for version 0.22.0 of FreeCAD, which is currently in development. Its purpose is to serve as a guide for individuals who wish to start using FreeCAD for their projects. No extensive prior knowledge of any CAD software is required, and the contents of this manual are organized in a straightforward and comprehensive manner, divided into various application areas. The guide includes instructions regarding the installation of FreeCAD, the use of its most prominent workbenches, and extends to more complex topics such as Python scripting. Efforts have been made to present the information in an organized, step-by-step fashion, complete with images. This structure ensures that both novice CAD users and more experienced individuals can benefit from studying this manual. The contents of this manual are published under the Creative Commons 4.0 license, and can be freely used, downloaded, copied, and modified.

Another valuable resource is the FreeCAD wiki, where numerous contributors have added useful information covering every aspect of the software. Due to the wealth of information available, navigating and using the wiki can be somewhat challenging and overwhelming, especially for new users. For this reason, it is advised to first study the user manual, which offers a more streamlined and smooth introduction, before delving into the more extensive details available in the wiki. Finally, the FreeCAD Forums are also very helpful and provide additional support and insights.