[Fab] free-cad - the one true free mechanical CAD package that will save the world!

Michael Prados mprados at gmail.com
Thu Mar 22 18:28:53 PDT 2012


Hi Poppy,

Thanks for at least trying it out, maybe they will heed your advice.  It
looks like Art of Illusion and Wings are broadly, like Blender, from the
"3D Graphics" category of software tools:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_computer_graphics_software

There is a lot of overlap between these programs and the ones that identify
as mechanical CAD, and I have a hard time keeping track of where one ends
and the other begins.  My impression is that for this type of program, the
open source options are already at that GIMP vs Photoshop level, but I'm
only a novice at any of these so I can't really say.

I think the conventional wisdom is that if you are going to make something
precise, machine parts, and complex assemblies, mechanical CAD purposed
programs have a big advantage.  If you want to 3D print organic shapes,
mock up sculptural forms, or render computer graphics, then the 3D Graphics
programs are often the best tools.

That said, today, if you really need to get something done with mechanical
CAD, you are probably going to have to get access to a conventional
proprietary program, which is especially obnoxious for someone who runs
MacOS.  I'd be happy to show you Solidworks and free-cad at Noisebridge
some time, which may help you decide whether you want to put effort into
the build process.  It does seem that, if you generated binaries for your
version of the Mac SDK and made them available for download, it would be a
great service to other people like you!

-Mike



On Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 5:59 PM, poppy <poppy at foostache.com> wrote:

> I'm interested; unfortunately their Mac build is 10.7 only right now. I
> filed a bug about it, but I'm not interested in spending the time to get a
> monster of a build system running just to try out the program. You say it's
> worth it?
>
> http://sourceforge.net/apps/**mantisbt/free-cad/view.php?id=**635<http://sourceforge.net/apps/mantisbt/free-cad/view.php?id=635>
>
> I've been learning Art of Illusion instead, in the meantime. (I tried
> learning blender several times over the years, but it's just a mess to me
> compared to other apps. #nopatience) Wings is also somewhat interesting to
> me, but the UI seems mostly impenetrable so far.
>
> + p
>
>
> On 2012-03-22 17:29, Michael Prados wrote:
>
>>
>> My background is in mechanical engineering, so I'm only being slightly
>> hyperbolic in the subject heading.
>>
>> http://sourceforge.net/apps/**mediawiki/free-cad/index.php?**
>> title=Main_Page<http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/free-cad/index.php?title=Main_Page>
>>
>> I have spent some time with Blender, Bricscad, and Openscad, and they
>> are each useful for many tasks.  But I am convinced that the fundamental
>> architecture and philosophy of these projects means that they will never
>> displace mainstream mechanical CAD programs, even with focused attention
>> and support.  That is fine, because they are intended for different
>> purposes.
>>
>> Free-cad, on the other hand, has strategically tied together several
>> free software projects to create a package with the potential to win the
>> hearts and minds of people doing mechanical design, given enough support
>> from the community.  I have been watching it for a couple of years, as
>> it surpassed several other nascent projects to become the prototype of
>> something that could transform how we interact with physical objects.
>>
>> It isn't there yet, but its developers seem capable and determined, and
>> I think it is time they got some love.  Last Sunday, Stallman cited CAD
>> as one of the three most important areas for free software development.
>> I find this fact very encouraging, since he, unlike me, has no reason to
>> be especially passionate about how objects are designed.
>>
>> I want to see if there is interest at Noisebridge in aggregating a
>> special interest group devoted to free and open source mechanical CAD
>> software.  My intention would be to focus on free-cad, but if another
>> serious contender should arise, I'd be interested in learning about this
>> too.
>>
>> The goal that inspires me is a future where free-cad is a strong
>> alternative to Solidworks, Pro/Engineer, and Inventor, to at least the
>> same extent that Gimp is an alternative to Photoshop, and ideally to the
>> extent that gcc is preferrable to many proprietary compilers.  Some of
>> the things that I think a special interest group at Noisebridge could
>> focus on are:
>>
>> * learning to use the package as it is
>>
>> * creating new tutorials
>>
>> * evangelizing to people doing mechanical design, who generally don't
>> know much about free software
>>
>> * studying the architecture and workflow of the program, and how it
>> compares to proprietary alternatives
>>
>> * reaching out to the core developers, and providing feedback
>>
>> * writing code, at any of three levels - bolt on extensions, patches,
>> and contributing to the core
>>
>> * exploring how free-cad might be better tied in to rendering, 2d cad,
>> 3d printing, CAM, 3d object scanning, open source robotics, openscad,
>> and online 3d repositories like thingiverse and google 3d warehouse
>>
>> Unfortunately, I'm sort of committed until late April, but I wanted to
>> get the idea out there while it is on my mind.  Am I the only one
>> interested in this topic, or am I in good company? Are there people
>> interested in meeting to talk about this?
>>
>> -Mike
>>
>>
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>>
>
>
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