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The BRL-CAD package is a powerful Constructive Solid Geometry (CSG) solid modeling system with over 20 years development and production use by the U.S. military.

BRL-CAD includes an interactive 3D solid geometry editor, a network-distributed symmetric multiprocessing high-performance ray-tracer, network-distributed framebuffer support, image and signal-processing tools, ray-tracing support for rendering and geometric analysis, path-tracing and photon mapping support for realistic image synthesis, animation capabilities, ray-tracing and numerical processing libraries, a system performance analysis benchmark suite, an embedded scripting interface, and a robust high-performance geometric representation and analysis library.

The solid modeling system is frequently used in a wide range of military and industrial application including in the design and analysis of vehicles, mechanical parts, and architecture.

The package has also been used in radiation dose planning, medical visualization, computer graphics education, CSG concepts and modeling education, and system performance benchmark testing among other purposes.

 BRL-CAD 7.24.0

Free to download


BSD License, GPL License, or Lesser GPL License

28 developers


System Requirements
gcc, make, GNU Autotool toolset

Mailing Lists, Documentation, Overview, Introduction to MGED, Principles of Effective Modeling, SourceForge Project Page

Selected Reviews:
Free Software Magazine

BRL-CAD includes a number of projects:

  • Geometry Modeling Kernel provides fundamental geometric representation, ray-trace analysis, and geometric processing capabilities via a high-performance procedural C
    API designed for multithreaded processing and fast ray-intersection evaluation
  • Network Package Library implements a client-server network connection that multiplexes synchronous and asynchronous messages across stream connections
  • Multiple-device Geometry EDitor (MGED) is an interactive solid modeler that provides a graphical user interface as well as a robust text-based command interface
  • Archer is a GUI-based solid model viewer and editing tool
  • The Advanced Distributed Ray-Tracer (ADRT) includes a high performance triangle intersection engine (libtie), a real-time ray-tracer (ISST), and a path-tracer for realistic image synthesis (RISE)
  • The BRL-CAD Benchmark Suite is a system performance analysis benchmark that tests the performance of a given system's CPU, memory, cache coherency, kernel context switching, and compiler optimization capabilities
  • Image Processing Tools support several common formats including PNG, RLE, PPM, PS, and SUN images as well as a variety of image processing tools that work on raw image data
  • Signal processing utilities manipulate raw data streams according to specified criteria.  These manipulations include data conversion and filtering capabilities as well as various transformations including discrete and non-discrete Fast Fourier transforms (FFT) and wavelet decomposition
  • Geometry converters: Exporters include DXF, EUCLID, NFF, OBJ, STL, TANKILL, VRML, X3D, and OpenGL vertex array buffers.  Importers include CY, DXF, ENF, EUCLID, FAST4, NASTRAN, PLY, STL, TANKILL, and VIEWPOINT
  • New geometry converter for the United Kingdom's INTAVAL format from Her Majesty's Ministry of Defence
  • A variety of ray-racers for analyzing geometry for visualization or geometric purposes
BRL-CAD in action

Return to Graphics Home Page | Return to CAD Home Page

BRL-CAD also features in our 'Linux Equivalents to Windows Software' section. The category selector below allows you to filter the different types of software included in that separate article.


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Last Updated Wednesday, April 29 2015 @ 02:37 PM EDT

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