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

Chris Reilly creilly at saic.edu
Fri Mar 23 00:36:55 UTC 2012

Mike, I'm definitely interested. I've also tested Free-CAD, and lots of 
other open-source CAD packages. Free-CAD has some real advantages (see 
details here 
<http://diylilcnc.org/forum/topic/software-workflows#post-640>), but as 
you say... it needs some love. I am in LA, but could tele-collaborate on 
any of the development points you mention.

Let's keep the ball rolling!


Chris Reilly
Open-source plans for a low-cost, easy-to-build CNC mill.
info at diylilcnc.org

On 3/22/12 5:29 PM, 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
> 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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