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Arch panel tools

Posted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 1:38 pm
by yorik
The Arch Panel in the Arch WB gained two new side-tools: Arch Panel Cut and Arch Panel Sheet. Their main objective is to create DXF cut sheets of panel constructions like the Wikihouse project. The workflow is very simple, you design your stuff with Arch Panels, then, the Arch Panel Cut tool produces a 2D view of these panels in the XY plane, then, you can combine several Arch Panel Cuts in an Arch Panel Sheet, the final result you can produce are DXF files like this, which are identical to the ones produced by the Wikihouse project:




With this, FreeCAD is now totally geared to build wikihouse projects like this from A to Z:


I am in the process of writing a tutorial that explains how to port existing Wikihouse files to FreeCAD.

Of course there is much room for improvements, we could think of using the Path WB to directly output Gcode from the cut sheets, it would also be interesting to start building a library of basic wikihouse components, etc... But so far this workflow more or less reproduces the existing Wikihouse workflow, I thought it important to start from there.

Here is a test file I'm working on: ... dulo.fcstd

Re: Arch panel tools

Posted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 3:04 pm
by triplus
I use Draft WB occasionally to produce similar results as seen above. Therefore likely this tools will automate the procedure a bit more.


Re: Arch panel tools

Posted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 3:28 pm
by cox
Wow, Yorik

This looks absolutely fun and useful :D Thanks

Re: Arch panel tools

Posted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 8:48 pm
by sliptonic
Wow! This is really cool. I'd really like to add some 2D specific tools to Path to generate gcode for cutting panels.

As a first step, I tried making panels and panel cuts from an existing project.

I've attached the assembly file.
Here's what I tried.
First I select one of the faces back part: altoidrack_back_01 and create a panel from it.
It seems to create the panel and if I check the length of the Panel.Shape.Edges list I see many edges as I'd expect.
Then I select the panel and create a panel-cut.
This adds 'View of Panel' to the tree and throws no error but there's no layout.
The length of its edge list is 0.

If I create panels directly from sketches, it works.

I'd like to talk more about how to access the panel/cut/sheet attributes from Path but I'll start another thread in a more appropriate place.

Re: Arch panel tools

Posted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 9:50 pm
by NormandC
Very nice, Yorik!

I believe this could also be useful for RepRap 3D printer projects where the frame is made of lasercut wood or other flat materials. They often provide a DXF containing a similar layout of pieces.

O/T: I noticed your LibreCAD screen shot had a vastly different UI than my own version! I was using the Ubuntu repo package but switched to the librecad-dev daily PPA. Those changes are great too! BTW the About LibreCAD dialog has a "Copy" button. I wonder if they got the idea from FreeCAD! :D

Re: Arch panel tools

Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 1:42 am
by bitacovir
Good work Yorik!

Someone should publish this news in the wikihouse community chanel to let them know.

Re: Arch panel tools

Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 4:15 pm
by yorik
Thanks for the early testing sliptonic! Will look at your file.
NormandC wrote:BTW the About LibreCAD dialog has a "Copy" button. I wonder if they got the idea from FreeCAD! :D
Several of the LibreCAD wizards are hanging around our #freecad irc channel... ;)
bitacovir wrote:Someone should publish this news in the wikihouse community chanel to let them know.
I already tried to contact the wikihouse people many times to tell them what I was doing, but nobody answered... I actually don't know any community channel.

Re: Arch panel tools

Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 11:25 pm
by yorik
ok @sliptonic, you are trying to make an Arch Panel from your existing solid objects. When you are making an Arch object out of a solid object, The Arch object simply takes the shape of the base object. No calculation is done. This is so you can basically work with any other FreeCAD tools and just turn your objects into Arch objects at the very end.

So your Arch panel doesn't perform an extrusion, and therefore it doesn't have profile information.

This works: Draft Downgrade your object, and make the panel from one of the base faces. Or make a Draft Facebinder from one of the faces. Then everything works, panel, panel cut, etc.

Of course the panel cut could be a little more intelligent and find extrusion data even if the panel itself is not a direct extrusion. Always room for improvement :)

Re: Arch panel tools

Posted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 4:18 pm
by claytonprest
@yorik This is brilliant!!! Thank you for documenting your workflow so well too.

I must confess that I'm not a regular FreeCAD user (yet). But I do work for the WikiHouse Foundation and really appreciate what you've done here to make the wikihouse Wren system accessible on more software platforms/formats like FreeCAD. Awesome stuff :D

Also apologies that you haven't had any response previously through the enquiries line. We've relatively recently moved the community group forum from google groups to a Slack channel where all the active wikihouse contributors around the world discuss new developments. You can sign up and join here:

For future projects, what other types of files and formats can we help provide as part of the 'standard' Wikihouse building type repo on Github?
How can make it easier for you and other FreeCAD users to import geometry? (If possible avoiding going through sketchup).
Would it help if we included .dae or .dwg model files too?

We've recently added a whole of lot of documentation for the Wren system, as well as parametric Grasshopper files, to github here: ... sign-Guide

Let me know if there's any other way we can help support your project :)

Re: Arch panel tools

Posted: Thu Dec 22, 2016 8:32 pm
by yorik
Hi @claytonprest,

Great to see you here! I'm registering to the slack group. Sorry I haven't been able to find it myself.

At the moment the main "problem" is to get a file which has only the flat outlines of the panels, without their thickness. So far I have not much idea of how that could be done without having to open sketchup and do it manually. That might be a good subject to discuss with other people involved.

My next move is to start building a set of reusable outlines for all the parts of the Wren module, I think with that a lot of the difficulty above will be gone already. I still need to think of a way to make the panels "snap" together counting the small spacing left between some of them too.

Anyway, lots of issues to raise and solve ahead :) When people start playing with all this, more shortcomings will quickly appear.

If anyone around the wikihouse community is interested in trying FreeCAD, we can arrange something (online workshop, etc), I'd be glad to help, and many of the highly knowledgeable people here would certainly be as well.