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PCB Design 3D Model View

by: May 22,2021 5463 Views 0 Comments Posted in PCB Design Tutorial

KiCAD PCB layout PCB Design

Summary:       If you like the KiCAD program for designing PCBs, then stay tuned and follow this tutorial on the 3D model.

Hello everyone! Hello PCBWay!

We all know the KiCAD program, we like it a lot, we use it, but we also like to see our PCBs in 3D view before sending it to the manufacturer for manufacturing. How important is the 3D model for an electronic component? How many times have you presented your PCB as a 3D model? As you well know, KiCAD offers us the 3D model for various components, but in this tutorial I will show you how to add your fingerprint even more on the PCB created by you. I will show you how to change the color of various 3D models belonging to the components in the KiCAD library using the FreeCAD program. As you well know, KiCAD recommends installing the FreeCAD program, which is quite useful for 3D design.


Some elements are needed:

1. The footprint of a component, for example a 5mm LED (I wanted to change this one the most, the red color had started to get a little boring);

2. 3D model of the 5mm LED.

I will start with step 1. namely the acquisition of the footprint for the 5mm led. It can be found at the address below with the name like LED_D5.0mm.kicad_mod:

C: \ Program Files \ KiCad \ share \ kicad \ modules \ LED_THT.pretty

And the 3D module of the 5mm led can be found at the address below with the name LED_D5.0mm.step:

C: \ Program Files \ KiCad \ share \ kicad \ modules \ packages3d \ LED_THT.3dshapes

Attention, we need two files, one is STEP File and the other is 3D Object (Figure 1):

Figure 1

We copy all these files and place them in a directory created by us (don't lose track of them).

Let's start with modifying the 3D model. For this we open FreeCAD (if you have not already installed it, you can find it here: https://www.freecadweb.org/).

Figure 2

This is the interface with FreeCAD (Figure 2). We open a new project, Click File-> Open, and select the two 3D model files for the 5mm LED (Figure 3).

Figure 3

In fact, we can only upload the STEP FILE file, if you want (Figure 4). The interface looks like this:

Figure 4

In the dial named Model on the left side, right-click on LED_5.0mm and select Set colors (Figure 5):

Figure 5

A window like the one in Figure 6 opens:

Figure 6

There is a red color of the LED, the same color of the 3D model we are used to, but I want to make it green (hmm..interesting). We click a left click on a facade of the 3D model (Figure 7):

Figure 7

It can be seen that a facade has been selected, then in the left window we have a menu with some colors. To do this, left-click on that little red rectangle (Figure 8):

Figure 8

Select the desired color and press OK (Figure 9).

Figure 9

It can now be seen how part of the 3D model of the LED is now green (Figure 9). To navigate around the component, use the balloon in the upper right of the workspace.

After coloring all the facades of the piece, click OK (Figure 10).

Figure 10

I like this green color of the LED.

Now, to save the project, File-Save As and save the project where we want.

From now on, we are heading for the footprint. In the previous tutorial, I showed you how to create a new library with footprints, if you don't know how to do this, you can enter there to see (https://www.pcbway.com/blog/PCB_Design_Tutorial/Insert_a_resized_logo_on_the_PCB.html).

It is necessary to open a KiCAD Project, then Footprint Editor. I located my footprint for the 5mm LED, I saved it under the name LED_D5.0mm_Green (Figure 11).

Figure 11

Now we go to Footprint Properties (Figure 12):

Figure 12

It can be seen that my 5mm LED is still red, it must be green. We must first clear the path to the red 3D model, then we must add the path to our green 3D model (Figure 13).

Figure 13

After locating the green 3D model, click OK. Save the footprint in the Footprint Editor.

Figure 14

Now we visualize the 3D model of the green LED (Figure 14).

I had some free time and I also made a blue Terminal Block (Figure 15):

Figure 15

I think it is quite important to have a 3D model for a PCB. Think about where you should present your PCB, and you don't have a physical board, but you have a 3D model on your computer. If you have several LEDs, for example, of different colors, it is easier to identify an LED by color and say that this green LED is placed next to the power supply of the circuit. This is a battery voltage indicator circuit (Figure 16):

Figure 16

Wouldn't it be great if the LEDs were all red, right?


Thanks to the PCBWay team! You have some of the most interesting activities.

Have a good day!

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