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What is FreeCAD Print
October 2013
What is FreeCAD?
  • FreeCAD calls itself a parametric 3D CAD modeller. It is used to make models of designed objects.  Parametric means that FreeCAD keeps track of imagined relationships for model features and exposes it as a parameter for simple modification. FreeCAD is under active development and not at its final release state- some features like complex multi-file assemblies are not developed yet. However FreeCAD, in its present state, does provide necessary features to make models in a variety of ways.
  • FreeCAD is built on the open sourced Open CASCADE Technology geometry based kernel which gives it a breadth of features, some of which aren’t exposed to the user interface.
Improving FreeCAD performance:
  • FreeCAD’s performance benchmarks were done by downloading some freely available online models and then loading them into the viewport. The viewport was set spinning, and the total frames per second were taken note of. These benchmarks provided an impression of the performance ability of FreeCAD for many part assemblies. This benchmark revealed that the CPU was the defining performance metric and not dependent on GPU.  Nevertheless, this issue will be investigated further.
FreeCAD’s supported formats:
  • FreeCAD provides support for the three most popular parametric file formats- STEP, IGES and Autodesk DXF. FreeCAD provides a model verifier and healing tools to ensure that models of maximal quality. This broad CAD file format support makes FreeCAD a good choice for interoperability between CAD programs. FreeCAD also supports Wavefront, and Collada which are popular for artistic CAD programs. This makes it a good choice for creating architectural parts for rendering with an artistic CAD tool.  Exchange formats supported:
•    ISO 10303 STEP (.stp) is a standardised interchange format for AEC.
•    ANSI IGES. This is a standardised interchange format for AEC.
•    Autodesk drawing interchange format (.dxf).
•    Scalable Vector Graphics (.svg) for 2D drawings.
•    STereoLithography (.stl) format for 3D printers.
•    IFC, industry foundation classes. This is a standardised architecture and construction format for interchange. 
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