Linux Format

Roundup: . Open source CAD

Which CAD software will you use for your next mechanical project? Mats Tage guides you through the maze of options.


“Usability in CAD software will depend on what it is you are trying to create.”

When it comes to making things at Linux-Format we usually write software, but this cannot create a soap cup for your shower. In this Roundup, we explore ways to design items for your physical world using Linux and Computer Aided Design – CAD. As Linux users, we are, as always, spoiled for choice.

CAD programs have two main ways of functionin­g, apart from the distinctio­n of working in 2D and/or 3D: parametric and direct. You can either write scripts to create your design, or you can draw with your mouse. In some cases, you can also use a combinatio­n of the two. Usability in CAD software will depend on what it is you are trying to create. If you are making a part for your bicycle, for example, you are probably better off first using the sketch feature then setting the sizes with dimension lines to get everything right.

When your shapes are more complicate­d, it may actually be easier, or at least more efficient, to learn some scripting and combine shapes such as circles, cubes, cones, etc. This can be challengin­g and reading explanatio­ns of the functions is essential or your designs will not be useful for anything.

When you get more practised and confident with your software, you will want to visualise your piece to evaluate points of strength and weakness.

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