In this LibreCAD tutorial, take the first steps towards becoming a CAD professional using a fully-featured open-source tool. LibreCAD, a multi-platform CAD suite, excels at realizing complex drawings, and then communicating the ideas to others. Follow each step as we transform LibreCAD’s ability to create beautiful hatching into a simple lantern.
In this tutorial, we’ll cover the basics of LibreCAD and create a 3D object in the process:
Let’s get started!
LibreCAD is developed in C++ 11 but can be compiled for any platform. Several pre-compiled versions also exist for Mac, Linux, and Windows. Setting up the software is easy:
Programs like TinkerCAD, OpenSCAD, and Fusion 360 all have sketch features, but LibreCAD has some of the richest features, as their focus is just on 2D sketches. One of their most differentiating features is their ability to apply hatching patterns into a closed shape. When it comes to enabling creativity by discovering cool patterns – adding texture to a surface in TinkerCAD or creating a neat pattern for lofting 3D objects in Fusion 360 – LibreCAD’s hatching is pretty neat.
Create a Hatching Container
Select the new Layer_Hatch1 layer and get ready to start sketching. Let’s start with a hexagon shape. After selecting “Polygon (Center, Corner)”, change the number of sides in the top toolbar to 6. Select the size you want using the grid lines or by entering coordinates into the command line.
Configure the Hatch
To begin hatching, click the Hatching tool – hovering over the icons to find the right one – and select a line of the shape you want to hatch in. Then press Enter on the keyboard. In the window that appears, you can change the scaling and rotation angle of the sketch. For this example, choose “Escher”, and a rotation of 90 degrees for the hatch. After clicking “OK” to confirm the hatch, it will appear in the container. For the hatch to show up as part of the DXF hatch layer, click the Explode tool in the left toolbar, then select the hatch sketch, and finally, press Enter.
If you’ve been saving your LibreCAD document, it’s already ready to be imported as a DXF into most 3D design programs. In Fusion 360, for example, you should create a plane for importing the sketch onto. Then, navigate to the Insert menu and select “Insert DXF”.
Create a couple more sketches and start extruding. In this example, we didn’t use all of the Eescher hatch profiles, but if you just want to find some quick inspiring patterns, it works great!
LibreCAD is a great tool for makers and engineers who need to quickly communicate an idea. For more complex objects, LibreCAD’s layer functionality can also help identify possible gaps in the design between parts, or serve as a great tool for creating technical drawings.
Looking for more information on LibreCAD? Check out the LibreCAD wiki.
Feature image source: Sean Tapscott / All3DP
License: The text of "LibreCAD Tutorial for Beginners (4 Easy Steps)" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.