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

tedward arbzed at gmail.com
Wed Mar 28 20:07:40 UTC 2012

So I bit the bullet, installed FreeCAD and messed around with it for a bit.

I was able to place primatives, mutate them, and do some simple
transformations without resorting to documentation.  That bodes well!  I
was not able to do that with SolidWorks.  I  also like that I can open a
python console and poke around the app's guts. I'd potentially be
interested in hacking on this.  I've been looking for an excuse to play
with pyQt.

Is it cool if I sit in on your discussion this evening?


On Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 7:44 PM, Michael Prados <mprados at gmail.com> wrote:

> All right, since you asked so nicely!  Not sure I've got an hour of demo
> with freecad so far, but I think there is definitely an hour's worth of
> discussion of what makes an effective mechanical cad tool and why.  I can
> be there a little after 8pm Wednesday.
> -Mike
> On Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 11:24 AM, miloh <froggytoad at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 5:29 PM, Michael Prados <mprados at gmail.com>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
>> Mike, I know you said you were busy until late April, but can you come in
>> and present Freecad and your vision for Freecad for an hour at Replicator
>> Wednesday this week (03/28/2012)? I'm really interested in the project and
>> I think I can get some others in the community interested in checking it
>> out.
>> We can have a few presentations using the big screen and audio. I'll ask
>> Matt to come and show off his http://reconstructme.net/ kinect based
>> scanner, and I'll present some things I made with the  elegant and simple
>> http://www.openscad.org/
>> Of course Andrew Rutter will also bring in Type A Machines prototypes and
>> have them printing samples.
>> Replicator wednesday isn't just for the 3D printer types, in lieu of any
>> other regular meetings we are the de facto regularly meeting fab group at
>> Noisebridge, focusing on all the things to make all the things.  If you
>> want an introduction to the Noisebridge tools shop, the Makerbots or
>> Repraps at Noisebridge,or the Nb Laser cutter, come to Replicator Wednesday
>> the first of the month (04/04/2012 in April) and we'll give everyone an
>> introduction.
>> -R. Miloh
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