- 1 Choose Your Operating System
- 2 Installing additional contents
- 3 External software supported by FreeCAD
- 3.1 Support
- 3.2 Finite element
- 3.3 File formats
- 3.4 Rendering
- 4 Related Pages
Choose Your Operating System
FreeCAD is a truly multi-platform application, developed with the world-renowned Qt framework. This means FreeCAD looks and acts the same on Windows, Linux and Mac. However, the installation procedure is a little different for each operating system. Choose your operating system for details on installing FreeCAD.
|Install on Windows||Install on Linux/Unix||Install on Mac|
Installing additional contents
The offline documentation is not shipped with all installers, but it is available as a separate package; see Installing a helpfile.
Apart from the default workbenches bundled with FreeCAD, there is a growing collection of useful additional workbenches and modules made by community members available on the web. Several efforts are in progress to gather them and make them available to you in a convenient way. They are listed below.
Since these workbenches are not part of the official FreeCAD package and not supported by the core FreeCAD team, you should read the information provided with them, to make sure you know what you are installing. Bug reports and feature requests should be made directly to each addon developer.
The FreeCAD-addons repository
As of FreeCAD 0.17, the addons can be managed directly from the Tools menu, so there is no need to install the macro mentioned here.
This is a gathering of useful workbenches, using the git submodules system, which allows keeping constantly updated contents. The FreeCAD-addons repository can be found at https://github.com/FreeCAD/FreeCAD-addons. This repository features an installer macro that can be launched from inside FreeCAD that will list, download, and install any of the addons automatically.
With FreeCAD 0.17 and higher install use the Addon Manager.
*With FreeCAD 0.16 and older versions, install the addon installer macro:
- Right-click on addons_installer.FCMacro and choose Save as...
- Place the downloaded macro in your FreeCAD Macros folder. The FreeCAD Macros folder location is indicated in menu Macros → Macros → User macros location:
- Restart FreeCAD. The addons installer will now be listed in menu Macro → Macros and can be launched by selecting it then clicking the button:
The pluginloader addon The plugin loader is a much more elaborate way to install and manage additional content for FreeCAD. Install it with the method above, or following the instructions on the pluginloader page.
The pluginloader addon has been superceded by the Addon Manager.
External workbenches, when they are fully programmed in Python (which is the majority) can be easily installed manually, simply by downloading them (clicking the FreeCAD/Mod folder (or in the Macros folder if they are macros). Refer to the instructions on each addon page for complete information.or buttons on GitHub), and placing them in your user's
Notes for users with 32-bit system and FreeCAD 0.16.6706
After attempts to install, the additional workbenches may not be available. In this case
- hold the report panel open while starting FreeCAD, and read the error
- see this forum thread: (Solved)Assembly2 in Version: 0.16.5602 (Git)
External software supported by FreeCAD
FreeCAD supports a whole lot of external software packages out of the box. This means, you just need to install the software and it will be automatically available, the next time you start it. There's no need to recompile it. This section aims to provide a list of all such software packages, together with some information of where it's used in FreeCAD and where you can grab them.
OpenSCAD is solid 3D modeller based on the constructive solid geometry (CSG) paradigm, where the model is created through a script. It can not handle meshes, but operates exclusively on solid geometry. FreeCAD can import and export files created from OpenSCAD through the Std Import and Std Export tools by the selecting the OpenSCAD CSG format or the OpenSCAD format file types. You can get OpenSCAD from https://www.openscad.org.
GitPython is a library to interact with Git repositories. The Addon Manager can use this library to import addons from a Git repository. The project is hosted on GitHub at https://github.com/gitpython-developers/GitPython.
CalculiX is a suite of two finite element packages:
- CalculiX CrunchiX, or
calculix-ccx, is a FEM solver.
- CalculiX GraphiX, or
calculix-cgx, is a GUI frontend to display the results of the solver.
Only the solver is supported by FreeCAD. It can be accessed from the FEM Workbench through Solve → Solver CalculiX. There's a standard and experimental solver supported by FreeCAD. CalculiX can be downloaded from http://calculix.de
Elmer is a multi-physics simulation software, which was open sourced in 2005. In FreeCAD its Grid and Solver modules can be used by the FEM Workbench through Solve → Solver Elmer. The project's homepage is at https://www.elmerfem.org and it can be downloaded from GitHub at https://github.com/ElmerCSC/elmerfem/releases.
FEniCS is a computing platform to solve partial differential equations (PDEs), which are widely used when solving FEM problems. As such it can be used by the FEM workbench. FreeCAD can import and export FEniCS meshes through Std Import and Std Export by selecting the FEM mesh fenics file format. The homepage of FEniCS is at https://fenicsproject.org.
Z88 is another FEM program, containing a mesher, solver and converters, which can be used by FreeCAD's FEM workbench. It can be accessed through Solve → Solver Z88. Z88 distributes several packages, which all freely available, but are closed source. The Z88OS however, published under an open source license, is what is needed by FreeCAD. The homepage is at https://en.z88.de/. Z88OS is also hosted on GitHub at https://github.com/LSCAD/Z88OS, if you want to compile it yourself.
OpenFOAM is a large collection of libraries for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations. OpenFOAM can be used by external workbenches that build on top of FreeCAD to work as a preprocessor. The project resides at https://openfoam.org.
A proprietary, closed source application for exchanging various file formats used in CAD. You can use it to convert proprietary, closed formats into a format which is accessible by FreeCAD. The homepage is at https://cadexchanger.com/ where you can download an evaluation version or purchase a license for the application.
FreeCAD has a native importer and exporter for DXF files, programmed in C++. Currently this importer does not implement all features of the DXF format. If you rely on a not yet implemented feature, you enable an older python based importer/exporter through Edit → Preferences → Import-Export by activating the Use legacy python importer option. You can then choose to let FreeCAD automatically download the needed files or you can grab them from https://github.com/yorikvanhavre/Draft-dxf-importer. The chosen importer and exporter is used by Std Import and Std Export and choosing the AutoDesk DXF 2D file format.
ODA File Converter
The ODA file converter is a proprietary, closed source, binary and freely available application to import and export DWG and DXF file formats. In FreeCAD it can be used by Std Import and Std Export when you select the AutoDesk DWG 2D file type. It can be downloaded from https://www.opendesign.com/guestfiles/oda_file_converter.
IfcOpenShell is a library for working with the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) file format used in architectural design. It can be accessed from the Arch Workbench through Arch → Utilities → Ifc Explorer. It's homepage is at http://ifcopenshell.org.
Pycollada, also known as
python-collada, is a Python library to read and write COLLADA documents, a standard for exchanging 3D scenes and elements. If it is installed you can import and export scenes to and from COLLADA files through Std Import and Std Export by selecting the COLLADA file type. The project is hosted in GitHub at https://pycollada.github.io/ and you can download the releases at https://github.com/pycollada/pycollada/releases/.
POVRay is a well-known raytracer which can render photorealistic images. It is one of two raytracers currently supported by FreeCAD in the Raytracing Workbench. You can download POVRay from https://www.povray.org.
LuxCoreRender, also known as LuxRender, is one of two currently supported render engines in FreeCAD. It is used through the workflow on the Raytracing Workbench. Currently only the old and abandoned LuxRender-1.x is supported by FreeCAD. Downloads for LuxRender-1.6 can be grabbed from the LuxCoreRender GitHub release page at https://github.com/LuxCoreRender/LuxCore/releases. The homepage for the current LuxCoreRender project is at https://www.luxcorerender.org.