Welcome to our FreeCAD tutorial for 3D printing! FreeCAD is a 3D parametric modeling program, designed for creating and customizing real-life objects. The beauty of this program lies in the complete ease with which you can modify your designs, while still being an open-source platform that is completely free to use.
In the 5 lessons of this FreeCAD tutorial, you will learn the basic commands and tools to visualize your ideas on screen, ready for 3D printing. We will show you how to construct a seemingly simple object, step by step, to familiarize you with important features. By the end of the tutorial, you will be ready to print your first self-constructed CAD model.
After each instruction, you will find pictures that highlight the steps you will need to take.
In the first lesson of this FreeCAD tutorial, you will learn the basics of handling the program.
To start, you need to first download and install FreeCAD. The program is available for free from FreeCAD.com. There are versions that support Windows (32-Bit, 64-Bit), Mac (64-Bit), and Linux (64-Bit AppImage).
If you want to ensure that FreeCAD is appropriate for your specific project, make sure to visit the FreeCAD forum.
Before you start with a project you will have to decide what units you are going to use. In this FreeCAD tutorial, we will be using the metric system, which is generally more friendly with the majority of 3D printing software.
When you open FreeCAD, you should see something comparable to this:
Click on “Create new”. Now you can set your preferred navigation style. For this tutorial, we will use Blender. Rightclick > Navigation styles > Blender.
The menu allows you to use navigational gestures similar to other CAD programs. This can be useful if you use other software or plan to switch to another program later.
You are ready to get going! Follow these steps to change the units.
How to change units in FreeCAD
Now, we will start a new document by pressing CTRL+N. You will see a new, unnamed tab open in the bottom left side of the window.
If the Combo View window on the left is already open, you can skip the next step.
Open the Combo View by clicking on View > Panels> Combo View
This window is very useful for issuing commands quickly. It also contains the Tree and Property view which allow you to have a closer look at the structure of your project.
To build a three-dimensional object, you will first have to sketch a base.
FreeCAD automatically sets constraints to your sketch, which you can see in the Constraints window on the left. Click on Close to exit the Sketch. You can now extrude the sketch to a three-dimensional object.
2nd length will be enabled by switching the Dimension tab to Two Dimensions and will extrude the object on two sides. We will not use this function for our model. Go back to Dimension and click OK.
You can also move the object around and take a look at it from different sides.
To begin with Lesson 2 of this FreeCAD tutorial, open the last lesson’s project and switch your Workbox to Part Design. First, we want to hollow out our box with the cut feature.
Set the dimensions of the Pocket feature found in the combo view.
In Lesson 3 of this FreeCAD tutorial, you are going to learn how to multiply a piece and make corners round. To begin, open the box you created in Lesson 2.
Now we will create a fillet from the circle pads with the radius of 2.4mm.
First, create a rectangle on the existing rim. Cut it by 2.5mm and then select the outward rim of your box to create a fillet.
In lesson 5 of this FreeCAD tutorial, you will create the cover of your box. The cover will be curved and hollowed out with the Revolution feature. No, you are not going to overthrow a government, but you will create a solid curved shape around a sketch. To begin, open a new document and save it as “Box cover”. Then switch your Workbox to Part Design.
Now, you should be all set to 3D print your model.
If you don’t own or have access to a 3D printer, you always can use a 3D printing service like the ones that you find here: Craftcloud, the 3D printing and price comparison service from All3DP.
Be aware that minor modifications might be needed to tackle problems that may arise during the 3D printing process.
Congratulation on completing this FreeCAD Tutorial for 3D Printing!
If you have any questions or problems regarding this FreeCAD tutorial, please do not hesitate to leave a comment. Also, if you want to add suggestions for this course, please use our feedback forum – thanks!
License: The text of "2019 FreeCAD Tutorial for 3D Printing: 5 Easy Lessons" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.