OpenSCAD User Manual/Libraries

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Library locations

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OpenSCAD uses three library locations, the installation library, built-in library, and user-defined libraries.

  1. The Installation library location is the libraries directory under the directory where OpenSCAD is installed.
  2. The Built-In library location is O/S dependent. Since version 2014.03, it can be opened in the system specific file manager using the "File->Show Library Folder..." menu entry.
    • Windows: My Documents\OpenSCAD\libraries
    • Linux: $HOME/.local/share/OpenSCAD/libraries
    • Mac OS X: $HOME/Documents/OpenSCAD/libraries
  3. The User-Defined library path can be created using the OPENSCADPATH Environment Variable to point to the library(s). OPENSCADPATH can contain multiple directories in case you have library collections in more than one place, separate directories with a semi-colon for Windows, and a colon for Linux/Mac OS. For example:
Windows: C:\Users\A_user\Documents\OpenSCAD\MyLib;C:\Thingiverse Stuff\OpenSCAD Things;D:\test_stuff
(Note: For Windows, in versions prior to 2014.02.22 there is a bug preventing multiple directories in OPENSCADPATH as described above, it uses a colon (:) to separate directories. A workaround, if your libraries are on C: is to leave off the drive letter & colon, e.g. \Thingiverse Stuff\OpenSCAD Things:\stuff. For more about setting Windows environment variables, see User Environment Variables.
Linux/Mac OS: /usr/lib:/home/mylib:.
OpenSCAD must be restarted to recognize any change to the OPENSCADPATH Environment Variable.

When you specify a non-fully qualified path and filename in the use <...> or include <...> statement OpenSCAD looks for the file in the following directories in the following order:

  • the directory of the calling .scad file
  • the User-Defined library paths (OPENSCADPATH)
  • the Built-In library (i.e. the O/S dependent locations above)
  • the Installation library

In the case of a library file itself having use <...> or include <...> the directory of the library .scad file is the 'calling' file, i.e. when looking for libraries within a library, it does not check the directory of the top level .scad file.

For example, with the following locations and files defined: (with OPENSCADPATH=/usr/lib:/home/lib_os:.)

1. <installation library>/lib1.scad
2. <built-in library>/lib2.scad
3. <built-in library>/sublib/lib2.scad
4. <built-in library>/sublib/lib3.scad
5. /usr/lib/lib2.scad
6. /home/lib_os/sublib/lib3.scad

The following include <...> statements match to the nominated library files

include <lib1.scad>  // #1.
include <lib2.scad>  // #5.
include <sublib/lib2.scad>  // #3.
include <sublib/lib3.scad>  // #6.

Since 2014.03, the currently active list of locations can be verified in the "Help->Library Info" dialog.

The details info shows both the content of the OPENSCADPATH variable and the list of all library locations. The locations are searched in the order they appear in this list. For example;

OPENSCADPATH: /data/lib1:/data/lib2
OpenSCAD library path:


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In Windows, Environment Variables are set via the Control panel, select System, then Advanced System Settings, click Environment Variables. Create a new User Variable, or edit OPENSCADPATH if it exists.

On Linux, to simply add the environment variable to all users, you can type in terminal:
sudo sh -c 'echo "OPENSCADPATH=$HOME/openscad/libraries" >>/etc/profile'
to set the OPENSCADPATH to openscad/libraries under each user's home directory. For more control on environment variables, you'll need to edit the configuration files; see for example this page.

On macOS, you can use launchctl to set the environment variable for the current logged in user:
launchctl setenv OPENSCADPATH "/Users/myuser/my/own/path"
The variable will be available the next time you launch OpenSCAD.

OpenSCAD bundles the MCAD library.

There are many different forks floating around (e.g.[1], [2], [3]) many of them unmaintained.

MCAD bundles a lot of stuff, of varying quality, including:

  • Many common shapes like rounded boxes, regular polygons and polyhedra in 2D and 3D
  • Gear generator for involute gears and bevel gears.
  • Stepper motor mount helpers, stepper and servo outlines
  • Nuts, bolts and bearings
  • Screws and augers
  • Material definitions for common materials
  • Mathematical constants, curves
  • Teardrop holes and polyholes

The git repo also contains python code to scrape OpenSCAD code, a testing framework and SolidPython, an external python library for solid cad.

More details on using MCAD are in a later chapter, OpenSCAD User Manual/MCAD.

Other libraries

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There is also a list with more libraries here:

Other OpenSCAD tutorials and documentation

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