OSE Lesson - FreeCAD - 1 hour

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To do

  • Does Tutorial 1 + 2 over all which is needed for the basics and for the test?
  • Which test is it`?
  • Exercise instructions for making your own tool.
  • See more
    • how to print your tool.
    • how to incorporate into log part of see more or of this lesson

Trashcan content

Put all documents you can find which may be useful to build the lesson here, and then sort it later.


The below viideo is too long for an 1 hour course. The referenced tutorials are included further down.

Lesson 3: OSE Basic Workflow Tutorial

A lecture on the basic workflow in FreeCAD that allows you to produce any 3D design - while using a restricted set of functions so that the functionality is easy to learn - by avoiding many other functions possible in FreeCAD. The goal of such an approach is to involve a large number of people in basic design - under the assumption that large-scale collaborative design works better when many people are coordinated to perform simple tasks - as opposed to a small number of expert users doing more advanced tasks as a smaller group. The workflow involves the Sketcher, followed by extrusions and pockets - followed by more sketches on faces for creating complex geometries. This workflow in itself is sufficient for people to get involved in meaningful work with OSE - and the intent is for this workflow to be learnable in about an hour of practice. This has indeed been proven. In 2019, at the Medialab Prado workshop in June - 5 out of 8 people were able to do a basic design test in 1 minute, and 7 out of 8 completed it in 2 minutes. The test consisted of drawing a shape in sketcher, extruding it to 3D. Then drawing another feature on a face of the first 3D object (pocket or pad)

At 14:04 we also discuss the use of Sketcher for motion analysis of articulated joints.

Along with FreeCAD, we recommend BlocksCAD as a graphical interface on top of OpenSCAD - where OpenSCAD is more for power users. Also shown is the concept of importing real CAD from manufacturer websites as a way to create accurate CAD models and as a way to generate part libraries that can be reused in different machines of the OSE product ecologies.

We made 2 more very compact introductory videos on FreeCAD - which are referenced in the video below. These are the OSE FreeCAD Tutorial 1 and OSE FreeCAD Tutorial 2 videos, each about 5 minutes long. These must be paused every few seconds or rewatched several times to understand all the content found in them. This is because there is zero dead space in these videos - and these videos are for those people who are fast learners and who do not want to watch a more lengthy instructional. Lengthy instructionals also must be rewatched - so we believe that zero-dead space videos are the most effective way to transfer knowledge effectively. Note that to have easy access to FreeCAD - use FreeCAD Legacy

Presented at the Open Source Microfactory 2018 Boot Camp.

Documentation, files, etc

OBSERVE: You need to substitute the template in order to not change the source

This lesson is part of
OSE 9 Day STEAM Camp
Day 1
Lesson-1 Welcome & OSE Introduction
Lesson-3 OSE Lesson - D3D Universal 3D Printer
Lesson-4 Universal Axis
Lesson 5 Universal Controller - 1 hour
Lesson-6 D3D Universal - Wire & Calibrate
Lesson-7 FreeCAD
Day 2
Lesson 3 Collaborative literacy and OSE product development
Lesson 4 Modular Electronics 1h
Lesson 5 Designing an Arduino Uno in KiCAD 1h
Lesson 6 Build a circuit plotter 1h
Lesson 7 Plotting and Etching an Arduino Uno 2h
Lesson 8 Soldering an Arduino together 2h
OSE Lesson - Plotting and Drill Combined Exercise 1h
Lesson Repository
v · d · e

About this lesson

Purpose of this lesson, what will we build, and why. Where does this product fit in human technology

  • Subject(s) -
  • Course Topic -
  • Time allotment - 1 hour

Learning Objectives

  • Basic FreeCAD workflow for design
    • Drawing in Sketcher, extruding, drawing on faces and extrusion ad infinitum, and hackig it for round faces
      • Basic workflow: keep doing this over and over until you can draw an object with 2 successive feautures in 1 minute.
      • Understand hiding, selection vs editing, part tree
    • Test: time yourself after 30 minutes of practice
  • Embedding 3D WebGLand part library into wiki

Course Content

  • FreeCAD Tutorial 1 - Video
  • FreeCAD Tutorial 2 - Video
  • FreeCAD Workflow Exercise (vs developer test?) - See Developer test for future OSE Instructors Developer Test
  • FreeCAD Design something simple to 3D print
  • Integrate 3D parts in wiki-log

pdf-file of full downloadable version


Prerequisite lessons

You need to have an understanding of

  1. xxx - covered in lesson yyy
  2. xxx - covered in lesson yyy

Prerequisite tools and parts

You need to have the following parts to get the most from this lesson:

  1. xxx - built in lesson yyy - can be bought from *link*

Subsequent Courses

How to enroll

There are three alternatives to enroll

  • DIY
  • Prerecorded
  • Webinar - recordings, live participation, Q&A

Background reading

Background reading - background information, videos, etc - to prapare for the lesson (in addition to earlier finished modules)


Original article: FreeCAD 101


FreeCAD is a free and opensource program for designing structures, parts, and machines. It is mostly used in architectural and mechanical engineering contexts. OSE uses FreeCAD both for its mechanical design work for the machines in the Global Village Construction Set, and for helping create educational documents for teaching people to build those designs.

FreeCAD Resources

Here are some general resources for familiarizing yourself with FreeCAD.

Note: the following tutorials are dense. Please pause the videos as needed in order to practice the demonstrated lesson.

OSE FreeCAD Tutorial 1

Tutorial 1 Introduces the sketcher workbench in FreeCAD, so you can then create any 3D objects imaginable

OSE FreeCAD Tutorial 2

Tutorial 2 Introduces part libraries. Importing parts from libraries and assembling them is a powerful way to do design work. This can get the casual user to powerful design capacity using real geometries.

OSE FreeCAD Basic Workflow Tutorial

Workflow test

To summarize: the Basic FreeCAD Workflow test involves creating a 3D object, putting a feature on it, and then putting another 3D feature upon that feature: in 1 minute of time. This test verifies that a person can navigate within FreeCAD with sufficient effectiveness to begin meaningful development with OSE.

Design a tool exercise

Scale experiment instructions

Modularity experiment instructions

Course Completion

Grading and test

Incentive Challenge


Teacher's corner


  • 0-15 min
  • 15-30 min
  • 30-45 min
    • 30 min mark:
      • Number of people in group:
      • Nr of people who succeeded:
      • Nr of remote participants:
      • Nr of remote that succeeded:
  • 45-60 min Round up, try to quite before the end of the class to give people some time to go to the loo before the next class.

Read More

FreeCAD 101