Workbenches

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FreeCAD, like many modern design applications such as Revit or CATIA, is based on the concept of Workbench. A workbench can be considered as a set of tools specially grouped for a certain task. In a traditional furniture workshop, you would have a work table for the person who works with wood, another one for the one who works with metal pieces, and maybe a third one for the guy who mounts all the pieces together.

In FreeCAD, the same concept applies. Tools are grouped into workbenches according to the tasks they are related to.

When you switch from one workbench to another, the tools available on the interface change. Toolbars, command bars and possibly other parts of the interface switch to the new workbench, but the contents of your scene doesn't change. You could, for example, start drawing 2D shapes with the Draft Workbench, then work further on them with the Part Workbench.

Note that sometimes a Workbench is referred to as a Module. However, Workbenches and Modules are different entities. A Module is any extension of FreeCAD, while a Workbench is a special GUI configuration that groups some toolbars and menus. Usually every Module contains its own Workbench, hence the cross-use of the name.

Built-in workbenches

The following workbenches are available on every FreeCAD installation:

  • Workbench Arch.svg The Arch Workbench for working with architectural elements.
  • Workbench Complete.svg The Complete Workbench hold all commands and features from all the modules and workbenches which met certain quality criteria. Deprecated in v0.17
  • Workbench Draft.svg The Draft Workbench contains 2D tools and basic 2D and 3D CAD operations.
  • Workbench Drawing.svg The Drawing Workbench for displaying your 3D work on a 2D sheet.
  • Workbench FEM.svg The FEM Workbench provides Finite Element Analysis (FEA) workflow.

External workbenches

FreeCAD workbenches are easy to program in Python, there are therefore many people developing additional workbenches outside of the FreeCAD main developers.

The external workbenches page has some information and tutorials on some of them, and the FreeCAD Addons project aims at gathering them and making them easily installable from within FreeCAD.

New workbenches are in development, stay tuned!