Sunday, April 18, 2010

HeeksCAD, my favorate Open Source CAD/CAM software

I have been using HeeksCAD for a little over a month now, I started using it because I only use Open Source products with my RepRap (I only have windows on my laptop because my wife prefers Windows). It has the look of Sketchup, but with a much more "clean" CAD/CAM GUI. I have used OpenScad, and it's great for modifying existed objects, but I just can't think that abstractly when prototyping. I need the ability to "draw & measure" my prototypes. Unfortunately, even though HeeksCAD is a great software, their Wiki and tutorial choices honestly leave a lot to be desired.

This program has a lot going for it:
-Able to import STL, STP, DXF, STEP, IGES, and Gerber
-It can export as STL, STP, DXF, STEP, and IDGES
-VERY easy boolean function.
-Python scripts available
-Active development
-Open source
-VERY good GUI, with very long Undo Redo string

The current documentation can be found at: (offical site, including VERY bare wiki) (very underpopulated user group) (amazingly active development forum, when was the last time you saw a development forum busier than the user forum?) a french forum, with a gentelman named Andre who is the moderator, great guy, and has made some awesome tutorials for this program. I have linked to Google translate version of this site for us anglophones.

I no longer use blender to modify my STL for the most part, this program renders STL in a much more informative manner than Blender (even though it only allows you to reorient, not modify the actual STL)

I have created a 5 video series on how to uses this Open Source CAD/CAM to make items specifically for RepRap printers. I also uploaded the 1st in a series of project videos showing how to make STL files, and then use Skeinforge to troubleshoot your parts. These are the project videos that I have shot so far, or made more than once and ready to film.

1. Wine Glass (took about 4 minutes to make and skeinforege), already uploaded
2. Spiral Shot Glass (shot, but not uploaded, going to see if there is any interest before I do more work :) )
3. Circuit Board Spacer 4 off re design (shot but not uploaded)
4. Bed spring 4 off (introduces arcs, drawn but not filmed)
5. Frame vertex 6 off (drawn but not filmed)
6. Drive pulley 3 off (drawn but not filmed, I show how to "cheat" a gear out of stl)

Anyway here is the 1st set of videos. I have also filmed the full construction of the Mendel X and Y carriages, but the video still needs to be edited, unlike these screen casts. If I should continue this project, please let me know in the comments.


  1. Just discovered your tutorials today on Youtube, not knowing they were yours until I saw your blog.

    HeeksCAD seems to be a great tool. Have been looking into FreeCAD/PythonOCC as of late. Keep the videos coming!


  2. Looks good! I haven't gotten the chance to watch the video, but I've been looking for software like this for a while. Blender was, as you've said, not meant for technical drawing, and the other package I found (avoCADo) was just too new to be useful.

    Does this support assemblies?

  3. Great tutorial. Thanks!

  4. Good tutorials. Will you be doing more?

  5. I know, I am doing Prusa tutorials now, then will likely do some more with the Heekscad , thanks for asking!