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What is OpenSCAD?

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OpenSCAD is a software for creating solid 3D CAD objects. It is free software and available for Linux/UNIX, MS Windows and Mac OS X.

Unlike most free software for creating 3D models (such as the famous application Blender) it does not focus on the artistic aspects of 3D modeling but instead on the CAD aspects. Thus it might be the application you are looking for when you are planning to create 3D models of machine parts but pretty sure is not what you are looking for when you are more interested in creating computer-animated movies.

OpenSCAD is not an interactive modeler. Instead it is something like a 3D-compiler that reads in a script file that describes the object and renders the 3D model from this script file (see examples below). This gives you (the designer) full control over the modeling process and enables you to easily change any step in the modeling process or make designs that are defined by configurable parameters.

OpenSCAD provides two main modeling techniques: First there is constructive solid geometry (aka CSG) and second there is extrusion of 2D outlines. As data exchange format format for this 2D outlines Autocad DXF files are used. In addition to 2D paths for extrusion it is also possible to read design parameters from DXF files. Besides DXF files OpenSCAD can read and create 3D models in the STL and OFF file formats.


Getting started

You can download the latest binaries of OpenSCAD at Install binaries as you would any other software.

When you open OpenSCAD, you'll see three frames within the window. The left frame is where you'll write code to model 3D objects. The right frame is where you'll see the 3D rendering of your model.

Let's make a tree! Type the following code into the left frame:

cylinder(h = 30, r = 8);

Then render the 3D model by hitting F5. Now you can see a cylinder for the trunk in our tree. Now let's add the bushy/leafy part of the tree represented by a sphere. To do so, we will union a cylinder and a sphere.

union() {
  cylinder(h = 30, r = 8);

But, it's not quite right! The bushy/leafy are around the base of the tree. We need to move the sphere up the z-axis.

union() {
  cylinder(h = 30, r = 8);
  translate([0, 0, 40]) sphere(20);

And that's it! You made your first 3D model! There are other primitive shapes that you can combine with other set operations (union, intersection, difference) and transformations (rotate, scale, translate) to make complex models! Check out all the other language features in the OpenSCAD Manual.


Have a look at the OpenSCAD Homepage ( for documentation.

Building OpenSCAD

To build OpenSCAD from source, follow the instructions for the platform applicable to you below.


To build OpenSCAD, you need some libraries and tools. The version numbers in brackets specify the versions which have been used for development. Other versions may or may not work as well.

If you're using a newer version of Ubuntu, you can install these libraries from aptitude. If you're using Mac, or an older Linux/BSD, there are build scripts that download and compile the libraries from source. Follow the instructions for the platform you're compiling on below.

Getting the source code

Install git ( onto your system. Then run a clone:

git clone git://

This will download the latest sources into a directory named 'openscad'.

To pull the MCAD library (, do the following:

cd openscad
git submodule update --init

Building for Mac OS X


  • Xcode
  • cmake
  • pkg-config

Install Dependencies:

After building dependencies using one of the following three options, follow the instructions in the Compilation section.

  1. From source

    Run the script that sets up the environment variables:


    Then run the script to compile all the dependencies:

  2. Homebrew (assumes Homebrew is already installed)

  3. MacPorts (assumes MacPorts is already installed)

    For the adventurous, it might be possible to build OpenSCAD using MacPorts. The main challenge is that MacPorts have partially broken libraries, but that tends to change from time to time.

    NB! MacPorts currently doesn't support Qt5 very well, so using Qt4 is the only working option at the moment. However, MacPorts' Qt4 has a broken moc command, causing OpenSCAD compilation to break. This may be fixed in MacPorts by the time you read this.

     sudo port install opencsg qscintilla boost cgal pkgconfig eigen3 harfbuzz fontconfig

Building for Linux/BSD

First, make sure that you have git installed (often packaged as 'git-core' or 'scmgit'). Once you've cloned this git repository, download and install the dependency packages listed above using your system's package manager. A convenience script is provided that can help with this process on some systems:

sudo ./scripts/

After installing dependencies, check their versions. You can run this script to help you:


Take care that you don't have old local copies anywhere (/usr/local/). If all dependencies are present and of a high enough version, skip ahead to the Compilation instructions.

Building for Linux/BSD on systems with older or missing dependencies

If some of your system dependency libraries are missing or old, then you can download and build newer versions into $HOME/openscad_deps by following this process. First, run the script that sets up the environment variables.

source ./scripts/

Then run the script to compile all the prerequisite libraries above:


Note that huge dependencies like gcc, qt, or glib2 are not included here, only the smaller ones (boost, CGAL, opencsg, etc). After the build, again check dependencies.


After that, follow the Compilation instructions below.

Building for Windows

OpenSCAD for Windows is usually cross-compiled from Linux. If you wish to attempt an MSVC build on Windows, please see this site:

To cross-build, first make sure that you have all necessary dependencies of the MXE project ( listed at ). Don't install MXE itself, the scripts below will do that for you under $HOME/openscad_deps/mxe

Then get your development tools installed to get GCC. Then after you've cloned this git repository, start a new clean bash shell and run the script that sets up the environment variables.

source ./scripts/ 64

Then run the script to download & compile all the prerequisite libraries above:

./scripts/ 64

Note that this process can take several hours, and tens of gigabytes of disk space, as it uses the system to cross-build many libraries. After it is complete, build OpenSCAD and package it to an installer:

./scripts/ mingw64

If you wish you can only build the openscad.exe binary:

cd mingw64
qmake ../ CONFIG+=mingw-cross-env

For a 32-bit Windows cross-build, replace 64 with 32 in the above instructions.


First, run 'qmake' from Qt to generate a Makefile.

On some systems, depending on which version(s) of Qt you have installed, you may need to specify which version you want to use, e.g. by running 'qmake4', 'qmake-qt4', 'qmake -qt=qt5', or something alike.

Then run make. Finally you might run 'make install' as root or simply copy the 'openscad' binary ( on Mac OS X) to the bin directory of your choice.

If you had problems compiling from source, raise a new issue in the issue tracker on the github page.

This site and it's subpages can also be helpful: