Free CAE software

This is a list of free and open source CAE (computer-aided egineering) software packages. More precisely FEM (finite element method) software.


- Code Aster

Code_Aster provides, well beyond the standard function of any other thermo-mechanic calculation code, a whole array of analysis methods and multi-physic models. Its application domain extends from seismic analysis, to porous medium, without forgetting acoustics, fatigue, stochastic dynamics… Its models, its algorithms and its solvers have improved in robustness and thoroughness (1000000 lines of code, 200 operators). Completely open, it is chained, coupled and encapsulated in thousands of ways. All in all, the user has complete freedom of choice.

  • Phenomena
  • Loadings
  • Dynamics
  • Analysis types
  • Multiphysical
  • Nonlinearities in static and dynamic
  • Thermal analysis...



SALOME is an open-source software that provides a generic Pre- and Post-Processing platform for numerical simulation. It is based on an open and flexible architecture made of reusable components. SALOME is a cross-platform solution. It is distributed under the terms of the GNU LGPL license.

SALOME can be used as a standalone application for generation of the CAD model, its preparation for the numerical calculations and post-processing of the calculation results. SALOME can also be used as a platform for integration of the external third-party numerical codes to produce a new application for the full life-cycle management of CAD models.

What can you do with SALOME?

  • Create, modify, import and export (IGES, STEP, BREP, ...), repair and clean CAD models.
  • Generate mesh for CAD models; edit meshes; check mesh quality; import and export mesh data (MED, UNV, DAT, STL, ...).
  • Handle physical properties and quantities attached to geometrical items.
  • Perform computation using one or more external solvers (coupling).
  • Display computation results (scalar, vectorial data).
  • Manage studies (create, save, reload, ...).


- FreeCAD - FEM workbench

The FEM Workbench provides a modern finite element analysis (FEA) workflow for FreeCAD. Mainly this means all tools to make an analysis are combined into one graphical user interface (GUI).

The steps to carry out a finite element analysis are:

  •  Preprocessing: setting up the analysis problem.
  •  Modeling the geometry: creating the geometry with FreeCAD, or importing it from a different application.
  •  Creating an analysis.
  •  Adding simulation constraints such as loads and fixed supports to the geometric model.
  •  Adding materials to the parts off the geometric model.
  •  Creating a finite element mesh for the geometrical model, or importing it from a different application.
  •  Solving: running an external solver from within FreeCAD.
  •  Postprocessing: visualizing the analysis results from within FreeCAD, or exporting the results so they can be postprocessed with another application.


- CAELinux

Welcome to, the website dedicated to the open source computer aided engineering Linux distribution CAElinux.

With the integrated open-source tools of CAELinux, you can simulate incredibly complex physics with the open-source FE & CFD solvers Code_Aster, Code-Saturne, OpenFOAM & Elmer: non-linear thermo-mechanics, coupled fluid-structure dynamics, seismic / non-linear explicit dynamics, contacts, visco-plasticity, fluid dynamics, heat exchange, convection heat transfer and radiation in other words nearly all physics problem can be addressed with the integrated solvers!! Then reload your results files in post-processing applications like Salomé, GMSH or Paraview to visualize your data in 3D... And don't forget all these features are based on open-source / free softwares, so now you don't have to pay for any expensive licenses and if you want, you can even improve it.


- OpenFOAM

OpenFOAM is the free, open source CFD software developed primarily by OpenCFD Ltd since 2004. It has a large user base across most areas of engineering and science, from both commercial and academic organisations. OpenFOAM has an extensive range of features to solve anything from complex fluid flows involving chemical reactions, turbulence and heat transfer, to acoustics, solid mechanics and electromagnetics. More...

OpenFOAM is professionally released every six months to include customer sponsored developments and contributions from the community. It is independently tested by ESI-OpenCFD's Application Specialists, Development Partners and selected customers, and supported by ESI's worldwide infrastructure, values and commitment.

Quality assurance is based on rigorous testing. The process of code evaluation, verification and validation includes several hundred daily unit tests, a medium-sized test battery run on a weekly basis, and large industry-based test battery run prior to new version releases. Tests are designed to assess regression behaviour, memory usage, code performance and scalability.

OpenFOAM releases are scheduled every six months in June and December. 


- Gmsh

Gmsh is an open source 3D finite element mesh generator with a built-in CAD engine and post-processor. Its design goal is to provide a fast, light and user-friendly meshing tool with parametric input and advanced visualization capabilities. Gmsh is built around four modules: geometry, mesh, solver and post-processing. The specification of any input to these modules is done either interactively using the graphical user interface, in ASCII text files using Gmsh's own scripting language (.geo files), or using the C++, C, Python or Julia Application Programming Interface (API).



ONELAB is an open-source, lightweight interface to finite element software. It is completely free: the default ONELAB software bundle contains the mesh generator Gmsh, the finite element solver GetDP and the optimization library conveks. Many other codes (free or not) can be easily interfaced as well.

ONELAB can interface finite element and related software (ONELAB clients) in two ways:

    By directly embedding the ONELAB C++ library or the ONELAB Python module. This is what GetDP (a finite element solver for electromagnetism, heat transfer, acoustics and generic PDEs), Gmsh (a mesh generator with built-in CAD engine and post-processor) and the ONELAB mobile app do. Any C++ and Python code can do the same.
    By preprocessing the input files of any software. The different steps of a simulation (meshing, solving, post-processing) are then controlled by a python script, which dynamically regenerates the input files. Elmer, OpenFOAM, Code_Aster, Abaqus or CalculiX can for example be readily interfaced this way. 


- Elmer

Elmer is an open source multiphysical simulation software mainly developed by CSC - IT Center for Science (CSC). Elmer development was started 1995 in collaboration with Finnish Universities, research institutes and industry. After it's open source publication in 2005, the use and development of Elmer has become international.

Elmer includes physical models of fluid dynamics, structural mechanics, electromagnetics, heat transfer and acoustics, for example. These are described by partial differential equations which Elmer solves by the Finite Element Method (FEM).


- FreeFEM

FreeFEM is a popular 2D and 3D partial differential equations (PDE) solver used by thousands of researchers across the world.

It allows you to easily implement your own physics modules using the provided FreeFEM language. FreeFEM offers a large list of finite elements, like the Lagrange, Taylor-Hood, etc., usable in the continuous and discontinuous Galerkin method framework.

FreeFEM has it own internal mesher, called BAMG, and is compatible with the best open-source mesh and visualization software like Tetgen, Gmsh, Mmg and ParaView.

Written in C++ to optimize for speed, FreeFEM is interfaced with the popular mumps, PETSc and HPDDM solvers.

- CalculiX

CalculiX is a free and open-source finite-element analysis application that uses an input format similar to Abaqus. It has an implicit and explicit solver (CCX) written by Guido Dhondt and a pre- and post-processor (CGX) written by Klaus Wittig. The original software was written for the Linux operating system. Convergent Mechanical has ported the application to the Windows operating system.

The pre-processor component of CalculiX can generate grid data for the computational fluid dynamics programs duns, ISAAC and OpenFOAM. It can also generate input data for the commercial FEM programs Nastran, Ansys and Abaqus. The pre-processor can also generate mesh data from STL files.

There is an active online community that provides support via a Yahoo! discussion group. Convergent Mechanical also provides installation support for their extended version of CalculiX for Windows.



MoFEM is an open source (GNU LGPL) C++ finite element library. It is capable of dealing with complex multi-physics problems with arbitrary levels of approximation and refinement. MoFEM can read various input file formats, and work with preprocessors like Gmsh, Salome, Cubit, and many more.     

MoFEM can be used for parallel processing on desktop computers and high-performance clusters. Its modular toolkit-like structure allows for development of open modules and private industrial sensitive projects. At the same time, it is designed to suit both researchers developing computer methods and engineers solving real practical problems.     

Getting started offers a wide range of information including guides on installation, basic tutorials, instructive videos. Developer section contains MoFEM design philosophy and tutorials on how to implement problems from solid mechanics to fluid mechanics.


- Goma

Goma 6.0 is an open-source, parallel, and scalable multiphysics software package for modeling and simulation of physical processes. It solves problems in all branches of mechanics, including fluids, solids, and thermal analysis. Goma 6.0 employs advanced numerical methods for solving problem with coupled phenomena for manufacturing and performance applications. It also provides a flexible software development environment for specialty physics. Goma 6.0 is being used to reduce process-development time, understand fundamental processes, and to educate the next generation of computational mechanics experts.

Goma 6.0 has an unique feature for those who need to add new physics, equations, and material models to evaluate their process or product. Unlike commercial codes, Goma’s source code is available allowing easy exploration of new algorithms, physics, and verification. Additionally, Goma takes advantage of parallel processing architectures without extra licensing fees assessed per processor, which is often standard practice in commercial codes. Through open sourcing Goma, we plan to help create the next-generation of computational mechanics experts through a hands-on development process