Install the CASCADE module

This is an optional module that adds 3D CAD file support (STEP format) for Chrono using the OpenCASCADE library.

Read the introduction to modules for a technical background on the modularity of the Chrono project.


The CASCADE module uses the functions of the OpenCASCADE open-source library in order to allow loading CAD models that were saved in the STEP file format.

Here are the main features:

  • Load object shapes saved in STEP file format
  • Compute the center of mass, the mass, the inertia of shapes
  • Convert shapes in triangulated meshes for visualization


  • To run applications based on this module:
  • To build this module:

Currently the Chrono API is compatible with the OpenCASCADE v.7.4.0. Previous versions of OpenCASCADE are not compatible.

Building instructions

  1. Repeat the instructions for the full installation, but when you see the CMake window, you must add the following steps:
  2. Set the ENABLE_MODULE_CASCADE as 'on', then press 'Configure' (to refresh the variable list)
  3. Set the CASCADE_ROOT to the path where you have your OpenCASCADE SDK (the one that has inc/, src/, etc. subdirectories), for example it could be D:/OpenCASCADE-7.4.0-vc14-64/opencascade-7.4.0
  4. Set the CASCADE_LIBDIR to the path where the OpenCASCADE libraries are located. Depending on your version of OpenCASCADE, this could be D:/OpenCASCADE-7.4.0-vc14-64/opencascade-7.4.0/win64/vc14/lib, or D:/OpenCASCADE-7.4.0-vc14-64/opencascade-7.4.0/win64/vc12/lib, etc.
  5. Set the CASCADE_INCLUDE_DIR to the path where the OpenCASCADE header files are located. For example it could be D:/OpenCASCADE-7.4.0-vc14-64/opencascade-7.4.0/inc
  6. Press 'Configure' again, then 'Generate', and proceed as usual in the installation instructions.
Warning! if you execute the demo .exe programs of this module, most likely you will get an error message because Windows cannot find some OpenCascade DLLs.

In order to have the DLLs reachable, on Windows, do the following:

Execute the env.bat script in the OpenCascade directory before launching the demo (but only from the same DOS shell, via command line) or better, to have path and environment variables already set all times you start windows, go to control panel / system / environment variables window, and just add this minimal set of data:

  • to the PATH variable, add the paths containing the required OpenCASCADE .dll files (assuming you installed OpenCASCADE 7.4.0 in D:, otherwise put your paths), separating them with ; and no spaces between them:
    • D:\OpenCASCADE-7.4.0-vc14-64\opencascade-7.4.0\win64\vc14\bin
    • D:\OpenCASCADE-7.4.0-vc14-64\freetype-2.5.5-vc14-64\bin
    • D:\OpenCASCADE-7.4.0-vc14-64\freeimage-3.17.0-vc14-64\bin
    • D:\OpenCASCADE-7.4.0-vc14-64\ffmpeg-3.3.4-64\bin
  • optionally you may add also these environment variables (again, modify the path if you used another installation directory for OpenCASCADE)
    • MMGT_CLEAR=1
    • CSF_STEPDefaults=D:\OpenCASCADE-7.4.0-vc14-64\opencascade-7.4.0\src\XSTEPResource In this way, you will be able to start the OpenCASCADE demos by simply clicking on the .exe, without the need of calling the env.bat script before.

How to use it

  • Look at the API section of this module for documentation about classes and functions.
  • Look at the C++ source of demos to learn how to use the functions of this module.


  • if the executables hang, freeze or crash as soon as they are load, probably you are using an older version of OpenCASCADE. Uninstall it, and upgrade it to the version supported in Chrono (see above), rebuild Chrono, set the correct paths in environment variables.
  • Some users reported errors like "missing symbol in dll" when starting the executables even if they installed the correct version of OpenCASCADE: this is most likely due to the fact that you already have an older version of OpenCASCADE installed somewhere, even if you do not know it, where the path to those older dlls is taking precedence in your PATH environment variable. Solution: move your paths to OpenCASCADE dlls before all other paths in the system PATH variable. This might be caused when you installed
    • some packages for Matlab, that use OpenCASCADE under the hood
    • some packages for Anaconda, that use OpenCASCADE under the hood
    • other unknown sw.