I’m guessing I am not the only one who simply won’t put any energy into trying to learn OpenSCAD. As a CAD user with more than 15 years of experience working with a few 2D and 3D CAD packages (among them the ubiquitous AutoCAD and parametric programs such as Autodesk Mechanical Desktop, Solid Edge and SolidWorks), I find it extremely hard to understand how anyone can design by programming lines of code, even less how can anyone analyze and modify OpenSCAD parts made by others.
A couple of guys have worked on an OpenSCAD module for FreeCAD and it was first included in the 0.13.1828/1830 stable version which came out last February. But until now I hadn’t used it much.
Well I tackled it in the past week and found out you can get surprisingly good results. The OpenSCAD importer reads .csg files or .scad source files and generates a CSG tree. I don’t like CSG work flow as I find it too primitive and a hassle to edit, but it beats the hell out of trying to figure out OpenSCAD syntax, or modeling the part from scratch using the STL as reference (which I had been doing until now).
For example here’s the AO-101 x-end-idle_ACME.scad file in OpenSCAD:
And here it is, converted into a B-rep solid in FreeCAD 0.14.2362 (latest development version in which the OpenSCAD has benefited from a few fixes):
And all I had to do was open the scad file, that’s it!
I also used the OpenSCAD import module to convert the Prusa3-vanilla parts to FreeCAD (I’m building the assembly just for fun ) and only a few parts out of the lot failed to import. There are a few OpenSCAD functions that are not supported, like the hull function or the Minkowsky transform. Also, don’t even try to load those gears, FreeCAD will crash. So it is not fully functional yet, but pretty useful already.
I’ll explain how to configure FreeCAD for OpenSCAD import in the next post.