OpenSCAD: Open Source 3D Modeling Software using Scripting Interface

About OpenSCAD

OpenSCAD is a multiplatform free and open source 3D modeler software that uses a scripting interface to create CAD designs. It is not interactive and instead it relies entirely on precise instructions given by a simple and readable set of functions. In view of this, its main application are not organic shapes but precision parts or objects. It is available for Windows, Mac OS X and several linux distributions and the installer is less than 25MB.


OpenSCAD Formats

OpenSCAD in based on two modeling methods:

  • Constructive solid geometry: Consisting in creating seemingly complex objects by cleverly combining a set of primitive objects (typically cuboids, cylinders, spheres, etc) using boolean operations (intersection, union and difference) between them.
  • Extrusion of bidimensional shapes: Obtaining 3D objects by either linear or rotational extrusion of 2D objects. These objects can be simple 2D primitives or complex shapes (even imported 2D outlines).

OpenSCAD Features

On top of these two methods, OpenSCAD also supports the use of mathematical expressions (a set of mathematical operator is already built-in), instruction loops, defining custom functions, creating modules for repetitive tasks, and defining variables to create parametric designs.

Thanks to the intrinsic precision of a written set of instructions, OpenSCAD is particularly suitable for precision designs like mechanical parts as well as adaptative and/or parametric designs that needs to be modified in complex ways during the modelling process. At Sculpteo SCAD files are not only supported but you can even edit OpenSCAD variables online, modifying your design on the fly.

Additionally  all the primitive objects are well defined and 3D printable, hence OpenSCAD designs are almost always ready for 3D printing (regardless, in the rare case of any issues with your file, you can alway count on our online tools or resources site).

Once the design is finish, it can be easily exported as an STL file, although other formats like OFF, AMF, DXF, SVG, CSG are also supported. The native file format to save OpenSCAD files is SCAD, which includes solely the generation code and as such is generally way smaller than a regular 3D file as STL.

You can learn more about the full potential of this great tool in our quick introduction guide to OpenSCAD on our Blog .

To get started, download OpenSCAD. It’s supported by MS Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux/ UNIX. Once the download is completed, click on the file to open it. The dialog window will give you all the necessary instructions; the installation should be a reasonably quick process. After the installation of OpenSCAD is completed, you’re ready to start with our tutorial. 

The tutorial will help you understand how OpenSCAD operates; you will learn basic shapes construction and valuable functions to prepare your file for 3D printing. 

OpenSCAD is a free 3D modeling software for creating CAD models. It focuses more on the CAD aspects of the design than the artistic side. OpenSCAD is the perfect software for you if your aim is to 3D design machine parts or other engineering models instead of animated movies. 

OpenSCAD is not interactive software; instead, it reads the code and translates it into a 3D model. It’s an instrumental technique for mistakes- finding the broken part of the code is much easier than trying to fix the issue with different modifiers like it’s done in other 3D modeling software. OpenSCAD points out the mistake in the code with a red dot for you. OpenSCAD mainly operates in the C++ language, so if you’re familiar with Arduino programming, it will help you with OpenSCAD!