How I transformed myself from a novice to an amateur FreeCAD modeler ?
To introduce myself, I am a sophomore university student studying biotechnology in Lithuania. Owing to my ardent desire and passion in science, I approached Professors to allow me to assist them in on-going projects but with no avail. Obviously, I realize now that I had been too much ambitious but fortunately, a junior researcher recognized by passion to try something new and decided to take me under his wing. This particular project involved modelling a mini-incubator and that’s how I stepped into the world of parametric modelling.
I will explain how I improved over time and will offer some tips for faster progression.
I use FreeCAD v0.18 (with add-ons). I know it is not the best 3D modelling tool out there and is under active development but it fulfills my requirements.
Here we go!
5 tips I wish I had known when I started learning FreeCAD:
When I first launched FreeCAD, it was an absolute clutter. But there are lots of online resources (especially YouTube) which proved to be very useful by offering comprehensive explanation of the workflow and helped me familiarize with the tools and workbenches. FreeCAD documentation and forum can also be sought for more specific queries.
Firstly, learn how to rotate your model and how to hide/unhide your operations. Also, be familiar with the attributes of your solid/sketch. Mastering the placement tool for sketches (after deactivating the map mode) is beneficial in the long-run.
2. Be imaginative:
As always, there are many possible ways to solve a problem. Try to imagine a model or seek inspiration from the daily-life objects around you and try to bring it to life digitally 😉. Try coming up with original ideas to solve the problem rather than sticking to advise from experts.
Perhaps, sometimes the process is more enjoyable than the outcome.
Science is a way of life. Science is a perspective. Science is the process that takes us from confusion to understanding in a manner that’s precise, predictive and reliable — a transformation, for those lucky enough to experience it, that is empowering and emotional.
3. Know your outcome:
Expect the outcome of your operations and try to minimize randomness as much as possible. This will enhance your critical thinking skills and enable you to tweak your problem-solving abilities.
4. Be keen on geometry:
Parametric is a term used to describe a dimension’s ability to change the shape of model geometry as soon as the dimension value is modified.
Parametric modelling is the creation of a digital model based on a series of pre-programmed rules or algorithms known as ‘parameters’. Knowing how to work with the parameters is one of the basic skills of a parametric modeler.
Be clear with the constraints you apply for your sketches and ask yourself ‘why’ every time. Being clear with planes is crucial.
5. Play around:
Explore different built-in workbenches and try installing new workbenches from GitHub or using Addon Manager. And Play Around!
These are the 5 tips I want to offer for those who are considering to work with FreeCAD.
A bit of a back-story here 😁. I started off from basic models like these:
To modelling more complicated models like these:
PS- The last one is my bottle cap!