Sunday, 20 June 2021

Starting FreeCAD: making name plates

Drawing my own objects in 3D is the next logical step on my 3D Printing adventure.

However, 3D CAD software can be tricky to get your head around.

But this is how I designed a few 3D name plates.

The aim was to make a few 2 colour badges or labels using FreeCAD and my 3D printer.


my KitchenPi rebranded as an Ekco Wireless in honour of Eric Kirkham Cole (1901-66)

After quite a bit of confusion, I came up with this 'relatively' simple procedure:-

Open FreeCAD and start a new drawing.

Select the Start workbench.

Note: selecting a Workbench in FreeCAD changes the displayed tool icons to suit the operations relevant to the workbench name.

Select TOP on the orientation cube, and then create a new Part by clicking on the appropriate yellow icon.

Switch to the Part Design workbench.

Create a new Body by clicking on the appropriate blue icon.

Note that under Combo View > Model the tree view should now look like this:-

Create a new Sketch (click on the red/white Sketch icon), select XY_Plane001, then OK.

Enable Show Grid and Auto Constraints.


Draw a rectangle starting from the XY origin, and apply constraints using the horizontal & vertical constraints tools:-

i.e. click the horizontal tool first, then click the 2 lower corner points on the rectangle baseline. This will allow you to set the width to a precise dimension (e.g. 70mm). Repeat the process using the vertical tool to set the height of the rectangle.

Select Close from the Tasks tab.

Click on the yellow Pad icon, which opens the Pad parameters

Set the Length (which is the thickness of the Pad) and OK

Use one of the navigation cube arrows to check that the object is now 3D. Then click back on TOP

Select Draft workbench, and Wireframe;









Create a shape from text by clicking on the yellow S icon.

Make sure that Font File points to a valid font (e.g. in Linux this could be: /usr/share/fonts/truetype/dejavu/DejaVuSans-Bold.ttf )

Enter your text in String  and set text height (this is font height, not z height)

Select Reset Point (ensure x, y & z all equal 0mm) then click OK

Select Model > ShapeString

Select Property > Draft > Size to adjust font size if necessary.

Select Property > Base > Placement > Position then set x & y to achieve required text position. Set z to equal thickness of block.


Select Part workbench

Select ShapeString in tree view.

Select the blue Extrude icon and set Length Along as required (i.e. extrusion height above block thickness)


Apply & OK

Save the file.

Select Edit > Select All then Export the object as a .stl file

OK, I did say 'relatively' simple!

There are certainly a lot of steps just to produce a block base with raised text sticking out of it.

The STL file can now be opened in Cura and printed in two colours as discussed here:


This stuff seems pretty good for sticking PLA to acrylic and other hard plastics;

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