Here are the most used functions and classes of madcad.


  • surface generation (3D sketch primitives, extrusion, revolution, …)

  • fast boolean operations

  • common mesh file format import/export

  • kinematic manipulation

  • indirect geometry definition through the constraint/solver system

  • blending and envelope completion functions

  • objects display with high-quality graphics

data types

The most common object types of MADCAD are the following:

math types:


a 3D vector (with fast operations)


linear transformation, used for rotations and scaling


affine transformation, used for poses, rotations, translations, scaling


a quaternion, used for rotation (faster and more convenient than matrices for non-repeated operations)

details in module mathutils

mesh data:


used to represent 3D surfaces.


used to represent 3D lines.


used to represent only contiguous 3D lines.

details in module mesh

kinematic data:


each instance constitutes a kinematic undeformable solid


holds joints and solids for a kinematic structure, with some common mathematical operations

details in module kinematic

most of the remaining classes are definition elements for kinematics or meshes, see primitives , constraints , and joints modules.

Most common operations

Math operations

>>> a = vec3(1,2,3)
>>> O = vec3(0)
>>> X = vec3(1,0,0)
>>> normalize(a)
vec3( 0.267261. 0.534522. 0.801784 )
>>> 5*X
>>> cross(a, X)         # cross product  a ^ X
>>> dot(cross(a, X), X)         # X is orthogonal to its cross product with an other vector
>>> quat(vec3(0,0,2)) * X               # rotation of the X vector by 2 rad around the Z axis
vec3( -0.416147. 0.909297. 0 )

Geometry primitives

# define points
O = vec3(0)
A = vec3(2,0,0)
B = vec3(1,2,0)
C = vec3(0,2,0)
# create a list of primitives
line = [
        Segment(O, A),          # segment from 0 to A (the direction is important for the surface generation)
        ArcThrough(A, B, C), # arc from A to C, with waypoint B
        Segment(C,O),           # segment from C to O
>>> web(line)   # convert the list of primitives into a Web object, ready for extrusion and so on
Web( ... )
>>> show([line])


Suppose that you want to set the Arc tangent to the A and B segments, and fix its radius. It is not easy to guess the precise coordinates for A, B and C for this. You can then specify the constraints to the solver. He will fix that for you.

csts = [
        Tangent(line[0], line[1], A),   # segment and arc are tangent in A
        Tangent(line[1], line[2], C),   # arc and segment are tangent in C
        Radius(line[1], 1.5),           # radius of arc must be equal to 1.5
solve(csts, fixed=[0])          # solve the constraints, O is fixed and therefore will not move during the process

That’s it ! The primitive list can now be converted to Wire or Web with the good shape.

>>> A, B, C    # points have been modified inplace
(vec3(...), vec3(...), vec3(...))


Prior part design (or after for assembly), we may want to see how what we are making should behave. We use then a Kinematic, using the current engineering conventions. In the same spirit as for the primitives, the solvekin function solves the joints constraints.

# we define the solids, they intrinsically have nothing particular
base = Solid()
s1 = Solid()
s2 = Solid()
s3 = Solid()
s4 = Solid()
s5 = Solid()
wrist = Solid(name='wrist')     # give it a fancy name

# the joints defines the kinematic.
# this is a 6 DoF (degrees of freedom) robot arm
csts = [
        Pivot(base,s1, (O,Z)),                   # pivot using axis (O,Z) both in solid base and solid 1
        Pivot(s1,s2, (vec3(0,0,1), X), (O,X)),   # pivot using different axis coordinates in each solid
        Pivot(s2,s3, (vec3(0,0,2), X), (O,X)),
        Pivot(s3,s4, (vec3(0,0,1), Z), (vec3(0,0,-1), Z)),
        Pivot(s4,s5, (O,X)),
        Pivot(s5,wrist, (vec3(0,0,0.5), Z), (O,Z)),

# the kinematic is created with some fixed solids (they interact but they don't move)
kin = Kinematic(csts, fixed=[base])

# solve the current position (not necessary if just nned a display)


Kinematics are displayable as interactive objects the user can move. Thay also are usefull to compute force repartitions during the movmeents or movement trajectories or kinematic cycles …



Most of the common surfaces are generated from an outline (closed is often not mendatory). An outline can be a Web or a Wire, depending on the algorithm behind. Those can be created by hand or obtained from primitives (see above).

Generaly speaking, generation functions are all functions that can produce a mesh from simple parameters by knowing by advance where each point will be.


Most generation functions produce a surface. To represent a volume we use a closed surface so you have to pay attention to if your input outline is well closed too.

The most common functions are

  • extrusion

  • revolution

  • thicken

  • tube

  • saddle

  • flatsurface

Suppose we want a torus, let’s make a simple revolution around an axis, the extruded outline have not even to be in a plane:

    radians(180),       # 180 degrees converted into radiaus
    (O,Z),              # revolution axis, origin=0, direction=Z
    web(Circle((A,Y), 0.5)),    # primitive converted into Web

Join arbitrary outlines in nicely blended surfaces.

interfaces = [
        Circle((vec3(0,0,3),vec3(0,0,1)), 1),
        Circle((vec3(-1,-1,-1),normalize(vec3(-1,-1,-1))), 1),
        Circle((vec3(1,-1,-1),normalize(vec3(1,-1,-1))), 1),
        Circle((vec3(0,1,0),normalize(vec3(0,1,-1))), 1),

m = junction(
                (interface[3], 'normal'),
for c in interface:
        m += extrusion(c.axis[1]*3, web(c))

details in module generation


For some geometries it is much faster to rework the already generated mesh to add complex geometries. Putting a hole in a surface for instance. Thus you won’t need to generate all the intersection surfaces by hand.

# obtain two different shapes that has noting to to with each other
m1 = brick(width=vec3(2))
m2 = m1.transform(vec3(0.5, 0.3, 0.4)) .transform(quat(0.7*vec3(1,1,0)))

# remove the volue of the second to the first
difference(m1, m2)

An other usual rework operation is cut edges with chamfers or roundings. Because round is already a math function, we use the term bevel

# obtain a mesh
cube = brick(width=vec3(2))
# cut some edges
        [(0,1),(1,2),(2,3),(0,3),(1,5),(0,4)],          # edges to smooth
        ('width', 0.3),         # cutting description, known as 'cutter'