Creating CAD files for free

Is there any free tool to create CAD files with? I dont know anything about all the different formats and tools but from what I can see there are multiple file extensions that qualify as a "CAD" file?

I've been playing with free software eMachineShop and got my part drawn up with a little practice but I dont know what I need to get a file i can give to a CNC machinist.

Thanks for the advice!!
 

pidjones

Well-Known Member
Ask your machinest what type he prefers (or can) work with and convert if necessary. When I was doing design for research apparatus, my machinest preferred straight dxf files that he would convert for his machines. We were not doing much 3D back then, and Solidworks was unheard of.
 

Hurco550

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Is there any free tool to create CAD files with? I dont know anything about all the different formats and tools but from what I can see there are multiple file extensions that qualify as a "CAD" file?

I've been playing with free software eMachineShop and got my part drawn up with a little practice but I dont know what I need to get a file i can give to a CNC machinist.

Thanks for the advice!!
CAD just stands for "computer aided design", and is not a file type in and of itself. CAD programs could be a number of differed programs ranging from free to $$$$. Most have in common that there are different formats in which to save said drawings, (pdf, dwg, dxf etc.) but the most commonly used is a DXF (as PID said), which stands for "drawing interchange file".

For 2D software, I use draftsite, which up until this past January was free and is a dang near copy of early AutoCAD software. This year it went to a $100 a year subscription, which was still worth it to me as much as I use it, both for school work and personal stuff. Once a drawing is complete, you simply "save as" whichever file type you choose from the dropdown menu.
 
Ok, if he comes back and says he wants DXF, what is my best course of action?
The eMachineShop software won't export to DXF. That is a "paid feature".

Here is the piece .... rotor to hub adaptor. I don't think any 2D software would work. It would be too hard for me to decipher everything without the ability to render it in 3D and check.
bolt_side.jpg
 

doc_rot

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Fusion 360 is a great program and is free for personal use. you will be abel to output whatever file he needs. it also has native CAM software as well.
 
use blender 3d it can output a bunch of different file type to use in tool path g code ect i use it for my 3 d printers and tormach

tons of tutorials and lessons on you tube good support ect

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OK i will try that. I just got Fusion 360, and it's a f****ng nightmare. Nothing makes sense. Evne a simple function like to move an object. Holy crap, i have not seen a less intuitive piece of software in a long time. This is actually infuriating to try and learn. wow.
 

cxman

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blender is not much better but there are a lot of guides and tutorials
 

doc_rot

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Lol. I thought 360 was very intuitive but i already had been using a couple other programs before getting into that.
 
Lol. I thought 360 was very intuitive but i already had been using a couple other programs before getting into that.
In 5 minutes, I could not even delete a cylinder I created! Right-click - delete, then some other menu comes up to select all faces or something, do that, "OK" button on the delete screen enables, click it, nothing .... yeah, no.

As a software developer myself, I've become extremely critical of software products as well as incredibly impatient. If I cant learn to use a basic feature in 5 minutes it get uninstalled immediately
 
Did you check out any tutorials?
Yeah, briefly, but they don't cover exactly what i need, and to translate that to what i do need looks like its going to take more time than i want to put into this.
I'm just going to find someone to do it for me.

I just spent an hour in FreeCAD and i can't even figure out wtf the missing "2 degrees of freedom" are on a simple circle.
I mean, i know what they are, but how to actually constrain them is beyond me.

What a waste of 2 hrs ..... Thanks for the advice though! :)
 

doc_rot

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In todays age I dont think learning CAD in any capacity is a waste. I use it all the time to work through problems before I execute them with manual tools. For example I made a dimple die the other day; instead of working through the agnles using trig I just drew it in cad and measured what I needed to know before turning it on a lathe manually.
 
In todays age I dont think learning CAD in any capacity is a waste. I use it all the time to work through problems before I execute them with manual tools. For example I made a dimple die the other day; instead of working through the agnles using trig I just drew it in cad and measured what I needed to know before turning it on a lathe manually.
I dont disagree with you at all. I'm just an impatient man, lol.

If I had my own lathe or CNC machine, of course I'd be much more inclined to get better st it as well, for sure.

In fact, I am really considering one of those smaller hobby lathes for around $1200 or so. For machining smaller parts it seems like they work really well, from YouTube reviews.

That adapter I drew above only took me 15 minutes in the eMachineShop software. It's very simple to learn.
 
another rant:

holy hell, this is annoying as hell. Who would've thought drawing up a piece would be by far the more complicated task over measuring and designing. wow.
Add FreeCAD to my list of software that makes no sense to a novice user.

I sent the STL files i had exported to a couple of guys i know to conver to DXF for me, and what they returned is not something i can open up to verify. I sent it off to the machinist to check and see.

How am i supposed to verify this? I was under the impression i can load my design in any of these programs (Fusion, Blender, FreeCAD) and just be able to EASILY view the dimensions on screen. However, i just seem to get the 3D part on a blank canvas with no reference points and no way to verify my measurements unless i use the little "ruler" ..... which, of course, is horribly innacurate because you have to place your marks on the proper pixel to get it right. DA FUQ?!?
 

doc_rot

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I understand your frustration but like everything there is a learning curve, that why there are whole industries dedicated to these programs. Typically the more powerful the program the more difficult it is to learn. think MS paint vs Photoshop. If you want a very simple CAD program that is really easy yo use check out Sketchup. I dont think its free anymore but its cheap. However its not parametric, and not precise, but you will be able to generate simple drawings with it.

STL files are lossy. I would not use that file type AT ALL except exporting final output for 3d printing or machining a very complex curvature. You can cheat it by increasing the triangle count but its still not great.

I know its not what you want to hear but this is why you draw it yourself correctly the first time. Lol. Take the time to learn a one of the CAD programs and learning others will be easy. I started with Alibre about 10 years ago and now I am well versed in Rhino, Solidworks, Fusion, Alias, AutoCAD and Sketchup. I use sketchup everyday for work becuase its incredibly fast for ideation. Once the design intent is solidified I will move to Solidworks or ACAD.

If you don't want to take the time to learn a CAD program just draft this part by hand. Its really not that complex.

Screen Shot 2020-06-05 at 11.49.35 AM.png
 
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sav0r

Member
CAD is not intuitive at first, just learning things like constraints can be very frustrating, never mind creating useful models and then drawings. Depending on file type, dimensions might not be included at all. You have to calibrate the model using a known dimension.

I could model your part in Fusion in less than 5 minutes, as could just about anybody that's somewhat skilled in CAD. But when I first started in CAD, I was generally pretty frustrated because I could draw them by hand in a fraction of the time it took to make a model.
 

SONICJK

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Agreed with Savor and Doc,
Take the time to learn Fusion. You'll want to smash the computer a LOT but once you get it it can do anything.
If you go with lesser "Easier" software you're just going to be more frustrated when it won't do what you want.
Fusion can do everything from a 2d square to a moving model of a engine.


That said i do agree that the basic functions should be more intuitive. I still struggle sometimes just to put something somewhere that doesn't make sense to do with constraints. It just won't let me do it the way my brain tells me to do it, so I have to figure out how fusion wants it done. It's always doable, and usually super simple, just not the way I would set it up myself.

My main issue with Fusion is that it does not handle complex dxf's well at all. I have a very powerful computer I run it on and something as simple as my logo in dxf will freeze everything.
For ALL 2d stuff I use Vectric Aspire, it's hands down the must intuitive program out there IMO. $$ though.
 

cxman

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Charlie i have a feeling you and i are a bit alike

i went into 3d printin and cnc machineing thinking i was buying some tools i could use and produce what i needed

that is just not the case yet all of these are still the domain of twidlers tweakers and geeks that constantly fiddle upgrade and generally screw with

i just want to walk up to it press run or push print and go

sad to say its not happening yet
 

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