open-sorce cad design software?

hy everyone i have a question for you-i know that there might be some blenderers that use both blender and a cad design software so yhis one is adressed to you:What cad software are u using and as far as i know there are several cad software open-sourced like open-cascade and blr-cad(or so).Can u suggest such a software to use with blender for designing precise dimensioned objects(i guess parametric would be a suitable word)that can be assembled and animated (parts moving rotating etc)
thank tou.

Blender and SolidWorks, here.

I know of no OS/free parametric CAD software out there. I’ve downloaded and tried a “free” (tho not OS) AutoCAD LT clone (read: 2D and non-parametric), but didn’t use it enough to see if its any good (and I’ve lost the link… I’ll check if I’ve got it at work…) There was talk of Alibre giving away a “lite” version of their software (read more here) but I don’t know what came of it. (Looks like you are aware of that thread as you posted there…)

My guess is you’ll never find such a thing because, IMO, such software is used in the design and manufacture of marketable products, which in turn make a business profitable, which makes investing in such tools (with real $) viable and logical. It doesn’t make much sense, from a capitalistic standpoint, to give such a financially-advantageous tool away for free, especially when companies are willing to spend thousands on it to aid in streamlining their time-to-market pipeline.

So why is there such a thing as Blender 3d? (my opinion again…) The product produced by this software is typically electronic in nature (ie: not a real-world marketable object - such as you’d pick up off the shelf in your local Wal-Mart). It is digital content, artwork. Yes, this can be a “product”, but marketing it is a different animal from mass-producing a gumball machine (for example) mostly because its visual in nature, and the average Joe on the street probably won’t shell out a buck for what you make with Blender. Either you have to make your Blender-produced product attractive to said Joe, or you have to sell it to such customers as would be in need of it. The Orange Project is one attempt to produce such a product. Many others are marketing their Blenderized “products” daily, with varying rates of success, I’d guess.

Okay, not sure what my point was here… I guess I’d like to see a free/OS parametric/solid-modelling CAD package out there, but just doubt it could happen, since the profit potential is so great. (Looked at Alibre Design Xpress, but don’t think it does assemblies/physical simulation like you’re after.)

Besides, Ton’s push to get Blender Opensourced was a somewhat unique situation & a neat opportunity. Its not every day that one has the opportunity to marry a fairly large and dispersed and talented user base with a software product such as Blender was under its former owner.

/me ends late-night mindless rant. We now return you to your regularly scheduled sanity.


AutoCAD LT at work everyday. QCad on Linux at home.

It’s very important to me if I’m going to continue with Blender that I can import precise 2D geometry from AutoCAD via DXF R12. But at the moment my opinion is that the 2D DXF import in Blender needs more work. It seems to stumble over curves and circles, leaving you to unravel a mess of misplaced geomety, you then spend far too long unravelling the mess.

I’ve tried finding an open source / free DXF converter but the only decent free one can’t handle curves and circles, it just ignores them.

QCad 2D DXF export isn’t handled correctly in Blender giving the same results as described earlier.

When you finally get the DXF into Blender be careful, save your work often, I’ve noticed recently that the 2D DXF geometry Blender does import is unstable. I’ve found that if you try selecting stuff it doesn’t highlight, if you try joining stuff especially curves blender crashes outright and that goes back to 2.37a, all CVS builds I’ve tried and 2.40 alpha on winshite and linux.

People here will tell you to convert to .obj etc but that isn’t an option from AutoCAD and the conversion software I’ve tried only vrml 1.0 imports well from 2D DXF conversion.

I just happened to try a 3D DXF import and that worked well. But to me that’s not much use. Blender severly lacks decent 2D geometry creation tools like CAD so it makes sense to me that they’d have concentrated on getting 2D CAD import right to suppliment Blenders great 3D modelling tools.

Simple 2D stuff you might find works just fine.

good luck

2D or 3D?

BRL-CAD - not easy to use and not available on windows - 3D

python-CAD - not available on windows - 2D

QCAD - free version not available on windows - 2D


yellow, thanks for the info on 2D DXF. I’m interested in this topic for importing architectural plans and turning out 3D from them. I read your thread about your troubles with this and am always looking for possibilities.

Question: have you tried to export WMF (Windows MetaFile) from ACAD LT (WMFOUT)? Many other vector graphics apps (like maybe(?) Inkscape) could import this, then output an svg or ai version of it. I know CorelDraw supports such functionality. Downside: you’re likely to lose overall scale, tho relative scale should be maintained.

Then there are some blender importers for these formats: see - AI importer (?) - SVG importer - SVG export
I’ve not found anything on a direct-blender-import of WMF vector files, tho.

I haven’t tried this myself, but would be very interested in any testing of this. Kinda jumping thru hoops, tho. DXF used to be a great “translation” format, but (as with many things) Autodesk screwed it up to try to keep it proprietary.

I tested out this app on my home laptop and it seems pretty cool. Aparently has some assembly functionality, tho some features are disabled. If you can deal with the adware aspect of it (you have to be online to run it), its pretty handy for small projects. It also exports STL (I think…) as is, which can be imported into blender. I did this with one part successfully. This capacity alone (a parametric-boolean-solid modeler for blender) makes it valuable to this community. I plan to look into its surface/nurbs/spline capabilities next. I know its “3D Sketch” functions are disabled, so this may be a significant hindrance to such work… (such feature can be purchased/unlocked tho, I think)… I dunno… I’ll report what I find out here.

Okay, tried to do the AutoCAD DXF --> WMF --> AI/EPS/PS/SVG/whatever thing yesterday with no success. My version of CorelDraw does not export to AI, so I was tinkering with PS/EPS and trying to use jms’s path import script to get those into blender - but with no success (not the exact version required, even after re-exporting the PS/EPS files using Adobe Acrobat 6 Standard and Ghostscript.) Even direct ACAD to PS (using the PSOUT command) wouldn’t import with the paths script.

Okay, so I also tried out Inkscape, but it doesn’t import either DXF or WMF or EPS/PS (unless someone knows of an importer out there.) I was hoping to save an SVG version of the AutoCAD drawing, but no luck.

Direct import of an AutoCAD-generated 2D DXF (of several versions: r12-2004) gives varying levels of success - none acceptable.

Anyone have any other thots?

Thanks for the heads-up, FishB8, I’ll look into it. (Great handle, BTW… took me a while to catch it! :slight_smile: )

Here’s what I did find out works: It involves the following software:

Acme CAD Converter
and jms’s path import script (see this thread)

Acme CAD Converter (a great little app, btw!) gets DXFs into SVGs that Inkscape can read. You then must use Inkscape to “tweak” them a little (I had to break apart all the elements of the generated SVG, as well as remove the “watermark” text that Acme puts in there, being shareware. I also changed the fill to none and the outline to black, while all the entities were selected - not necessary, but makes seeing things easier.)

This Inkscape-saved file (tho it might have to be “standard SVG” rather than “Inkscape SVG” in the save dialog… not certain, here…) was imported well with jms’s script (which itself has to be installed properly - be sure you read his instructions carefully) as a path in blender, which then has to be converted to mesh (alt-c) and all the usual remove-doubles, etc., stuff has to be done to clean it up. You should then be ready to extrude z and away you go!

For posterity (and elysiun searcher’s) I thot I’d post a solution found by yellow:

To bring this topic back on track: has anyone out there tried CADMAI? (I tried to search for it here at elysiun before asking… really!)

It’s not easy to use, even not easy to compile but worth to know it.

What gcc version are you using?

Haven’t tried to compile it, Twingy mentioned that there was a pending commit of a windows port a couple of weeks ago so perhaps that has gone in now.


I think what we need is to have Blender provide us with precision and units conversion (km,m,mm,…) ability then improve the blender-cad script and DXF import.

I’m with Jumpy-Monkey on that one… would sure be nice… but who am I to complain. I just don’t seem to have that kind of coding talent… :frowning:

I actually compiled BRL-CAD on windows, and have the files. For the windows users wanting this I have the latest brlcad files and if I can host them I will give you the links. Let me know if there is an interest. Compiled using CygWin

I want to have it, please upload it thanks