Your experiences with FreeCAD
April 26, 2013 11:09 AM   Subscribe

Do any of you have recent experience with FreeCAD? How do you like the software, and how about that STL output? How easy is it to export files from FreeCAD to be used in other CAD packages? Objective: 3D printing Reference point: Solidworks

I'd like to make a part in CAD and send it to a 3D printer (Dimension Elite). I was thinking about trying FreeCAD, but wonder what your experiences are with FreeCAD in general and especially if you have been 3D printing.

The part itself is not terribly complicated: some repeating, parallel layers (think heat sink) and an extrusion of changing diameter (think traffic cone).

My background is mostly in Solidworks, but I have used other packages. If y'all have a lot of negative feedback on FreeCAD, I do have access to Solidworks, but I have some non-technical reasons for wanting to test out FreeCAD.

Other software suggestions welcome; I have never really looked into free-as-in-beer or free-as-in-freedom CAD before this.
posted by whatzit to Computers & Internet (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This may not apply, since it seems like you are mainly looking for 3D software, but when it comes to free CAD programs, you really can't beat Draftsight. I think Dassault gives it away for free to just to annoy the folks at rival company Autocad. However, as far as I know, Draftsight mainly does 2D, so you may have problems outputting to a 3D printer. I haven't really worked all that much with surface lithography, but lots of people seem to think Sketchup will work with stl. Finally, here is a "pro tip"-- Whenever you are having problems with file types, try opening it in Rhino. Rhino can open just about anything without trouble. Plenty of companies that don't use it for their primary software still keep a copy of Rhino around just to do safe file translations. Rhino is great for many other things-- especially soft curves and organic shapes. It's also pretty cheap.
posted by seasparrow at 7:35 AM on April 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

So then, apparently the Venn diagram of Open Source and 3D Printing enthusiasts here on Metafilter apparently contains just one person. Perhaps you will have more luck at Make magazine's forums. Best of luck!
posted by seasparrow at 9:21 PM on April 29, 2013

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