FreeCAD is a CAD/CAE parametric modeling application. It is still in early stage of development, so don't expect to be able to use it to produce work already. But, if you are curious about what FreeCAD looks like and what features are being developed, you are welcome to download it and give it a try. At the moment, much functionality is already present, but not much user interface has been created for it. This means that if you know a bit of python, you will already be able to produce and modify geometry relatively easily. If not, you will probably find that FreeCAD still has few to offer to you. But, be patient, this is expected to change soon.
And if after testing you have feedback, ideas or opinions, please share it with us on the FreeCAD discussion forum!
First of all (if not done already) download and install FreeCAD. See the Download page for information about current versions and updates. There are install packages ready for Windows, Ubuntu and openSUSE.
Several modules of FreeCAD contain already enough functionality to produce and modify geometry. To import and manipulate meshes, head to the Mesh Module. To get into the CAD capabilities of FreeCAD visit the Part Module page. There is also a 2d Draft Module availible as a plugin. As said above, those modules have at the moment very few elements of user interface (icons & buttons), so most functionality is availible only by python scripting.
Python scripting in FreeCAD is very easy, you can get an idea about it by reading FreeCAD Scripting Basics. To know what you can do with the Mesh Module by scripting, read the Mesh Scripting page. In a similar way, the Topological data scripting page shows how to access and use the Part Module. The Draft Module already has a User Interface, and can be used without scripting.
Simple exercises that can already be done in FreeCAD
- Importing existing files: The mesh, part and draft modules are already able to import several file formats. Mesh formats are imported by the Mesh Module, advancd 3D CAD formats are imported by the Part Module, and 2D formats are imported by the Draft Module. By simply using the File > Open menu entry, you'll be able to check which formats are currently supported.
- Creating new geometry: Each of these modules already have simple UI commands for creating basic primitive elements like cubes, planes, lines or circles. Try changing the workbench to one of the above mentioned modules, and see what tools become available.