Who uses KiCAD?

and what about KiCad and FreeCAD mechanical integration?
That ECAD MCAD collaboration in KiCad came 2 years before the Autodesk move :smiley:


KiCad’s DRC has been severely limiting with high voltage and/or galvonically isolated regions for me, as noted by hyOzd and Phyzic. It has driven me to use other CAD packages for these designs.

As Phyzic said, clearance net class-to-net class is required rather than just global clearances. Also, a net should be able to be a member of multiple net classes as far as clearance goes (currently clearance, default trace width, default via size are mixed together in a net class so this doesn’t work with the current architecture).

For high voltage, an additional consideration for multi-layer boards is to have inner layer rules be able to be set differently than outer layers, as the clearance requirements are often much smaller on inner layers, even by an order of magnitude. (See table of “Electrical Spacing” in KiCad’s PCB Calculator. Column B1.) Outer layers have traces and/or pads that can arc to each other in air or by tracking across the surface. Inner layers are sandwiched in between prepreg layers with no air (unless you get cheap boards with voids in them and/or delaminating boards), so the clearance requirements are significantly smaller. This allows routing many more high-voltage traces on inner layers. For space-sensitive designs, this is a must.


In the past I did use FreeCAD for the mechanics. A lot of good tutorials are available on youtube. Therefore Autodesk is not an advantage. STEP files are pretty industry standard. This approach was good enough for me as an electronic design engineer. Mechanical engineers may disagree in this point.

I did use Eagle for the past 20 years making maybe up to 80 designs with it. Eagle did the job. However to be honest in my opinion there was not much inovation. Therefore a plus was the license which once it was bought you could use this version as long as you fealed confortable with it.

Now Autodesk did completly mess up with this culture.

Today I did use the layout tool within KiCAD only a few hours. However I was extremly surprised (positive) about the quality of the tool. Sorry at the moment I see no reason to use Eagle anymore for new upcoming projects.


[OT]@hyOzd @Phyzic @nikolx please sign up in launchpad and let developers know this bug report its affecting you.

There is a bug report assigned to this case

In that link I confirmed that its affecting me and also subscribed to the bug report followups. Doing so you increase the importance of the bug and increase its visibility to the developers. The next best thing is to actually send kicad devs a patch adding the feature, but thats out of my reach.

So please get involved and give our devs feedback about this, many of us need the feature and its kind of under reported.


I did some research an it turns out that ugly ducklings turn into beautiful swans.
Just like KiCad.

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[OT] Done, thanks for the link.

Similar (edging on duplicate) bug report for clearance matrix:

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I have seen that KiCad is mentioned on lot of job postings on linkedin job search.

Maybe because there is a lot less software piracy these days. Until 10 years ago you used to see '“99 Electronic Engineering essentials” compilation CDs with Protel and Orcad cracks on them.

KiCad is good enough for many tasks now

My feedback on another thread:

Since then, I have pulled someone else in to help with libraries and layout on occasion with no extra software cost incurred. Also, the libs being a text file means we can both add components to the Kicad libs and cleanly merge them in Git. (or selectively in whatever Diff tool you like)

I will say the biggest wish I have is region-based DRC. I also have BGA and High-Voltage zones with varying DRC requirements on the same board.

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DRC improvement is 2nd for me after native via stitching

Lately (abt from the beginning of 2017) KiCAD is perfectly fine for MCAD integration. Forget old WRL models: KiCAD directly uses .STEP files received from part manufacturers or places like 3dcontentcentral. Whole model (parts + board) can be exported also in STEP format.
It came true without any notice: I kept playing with 3d part from time to time, and suddenly worked! I already got rid of all WRL 3d models and have a neat “STP only” 3dpackages folder.

The plan is to integrate the stepup approach so the step exporter searches for a step file with the same name as the WRL assigned in the footprint

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A recent discussion on the KiCad developer mailing list showed that Ucamco, the “inventor” of the Gerber file format (a file format which everybody in the PCB industry should at least have heard of) is working closely with the KiCad developers to integrate and test a new feature for the Gerber X2 file format.

This already happened in the past:

KiCad Blog post: Gerber X2 Support

News article: Ucamco’s Gerber Netlist Goes Live with KiCad

I see this as an accolade for the KiCad development team and I think it shows that, while maybe lacking some features of the “big players”, KiCad in general is taken seriously.


Of course, it’s great that big players are interested in KiCad, but I suspect Ucamco’s interest is more about pushing their own Gerber X2 format, rather than other open or sort of open formats (ODB++, IPC-2581). It seems that as well as publishing “advertorials” for X2 in blogs, trade press, Ucamco are also going round every EDA package and industry user encouraging them to support X2.

Ucamco bought the company that previously owned the Gerber spec, obviously they want to make the most of their investment.

I don’t know, maybe X2 is the best spec and it will become the industry standard. Certainly something better than Gerbers is needed, it’s a pity there are three competing standards.

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IMHO, the battle will be won at the fab house. Whatever format they support, have the least problems with and like the most (or what will be available in their house-tool) will be the one everybody else must be using.

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Yes, anything that requires expensive software will only be found in the high end fabs

I’m a staff scientist for an automotive electronics company. I’ve been a proponent of Opensores software for 26 years (since college).

I came to KiCAD after I heard about it thru CERN’s website and have managed to get it partially adopted at work for product PCB designs (both re-engineered and bespoke). Currently we are testing the integration of FreeCAD and KiCAD using the KiCAD Stepup module. Ultimately the plan is to get the company off of OrCAD, Eagle and Solidworks which will save us a fortune. (people that use “cracked” software are thieves.)

Electronics and Programming are not my hobby at all. My hobbies are bicycling, camping, my girlfriend and maybe mathematics.

Asking this question here is going to give you a false impression of the user base of KiCAD because you are really asking who is using https://forum.kicad.info/. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-selection_bias.


I’m a professor at the University. I use Kicad to develop little-to-medium scale designs mainly for students doing their final graduate thesis and some little modules used in undergraduate lab sessions. Also for personal pet projects.

have you tested the new improvements?
Kicad StepUp: a Seamless ECAD/MCAD PCB Data Integration

I can’t answer that accurately but I just sent this link to my colleague who is integrating case design in FreeCAD with the PCB footprints. At only 11 days old I doubt he has seen this yet.