3D Text Label over Chips

Hello there !

I discovered KiCad yesterday and I must say that this software turns out to be really pleasant to use and that it is particularly optimized (no lag at all :+1:)

I come to you to find out how to put labels/texts above 3D model (to put the references of my chips directly on them).

I’m sorry if my question is stupid and I want to apologize in advance if this question has already been answered elsewhere but I can’t found how to do it despite near 2 hours of Google it. :anguished:

I come to you to find out how to put labels/texts above 3D model (to put the references of my chips directly on them).

I suppose this will not work at all.
Kicad takes a complete 3D-step-model for every component, but doesn’t alters it.
The silkscreen-elements (reference / labels / graphic text) are plotted directly onto the board-plane (where the real silkscreen after production is printed).
Producing a “hovering” silkscreen which sits on top of the 3D-step-models of each component is currently not possible.

You can raise a feature request on the GitLab issue tracker

I don’t think this would be implemented, unless someone can propose a reliable non-hacky solution which doesn’t involve modifying the existing 3D models. Anyways, where exactly should they be placed? As if they were printed to the surface of the models? That wouldn’t even be possible to do reliably for all models, or maybe most of them.

Use blender for rendering, adding text maps when preprocessing

Thanks all for your answers, I understand now why I can’t find a way to do it :grin:

My goal isn’t to have a printable solution, text that are only virtual are perfect for what I need as the goal is only to be able to read the names/models/trades of the chips and some other components in the 3D view.

Export to Blender is a classic convert-export-import-mess-conflict-solution and I think is not viable on the long term. All in one software is way more comfortable.

A solution may be to have a special text, something like “Virtual Comments” with a pop-up saying “You can place virtual comments everywhere, they’ll only be showed in the 3D Viewer” and for each one it’s a 3D plane with a text box letting choose font size/color and X/Y/Z rotate/position/scale.

This way you can place texts everywhere, even at 85 degres vertical to follow the shape of some Resistor Array.

It’s not a ‘One-Click’ and you’re done process, but…

There are a couple of ways to do it and perhaps the most practical way that yields a reusable part is as follows

You can use whatever Software you want as long as it can add Text (or sketched text) to a 3D model or 3D-Graphic (such as WRL). Example below uses a 3D-Step model

From the following, you can conjure-up a process that may work for you

• Let’s say you plan ahead and know there are some parts you will want to reuse that will have text

• In PCB, look at the various Footprints (view in 3D, too) and locate desired models - make a list of them

• It’s convenient to draw a PCB shape (I just draw a Circle for this)

• Place only One of the desired Footprints on the PCB

• Export STEP

In your favorite software for doing this (I use FreeCAD, thus the following step’s)
• Create a New file
• Import the Exported STEP model
• Change Workbench to Draft-workbench
• Orient the model as needed
• Select ‘Shape-String’ tool

I’ll leave learning how to use Shape-String to you but, you’ll want to place (or, re-position) the Text at desired location

(I prefer to also Extrude (Pad) the text just a bit to raise it, yielding some sense of 3D)

When satisfied, Export the STEP… You can use the KSU StepUp plugin in FreeCAD - it will export the Step as a Footprint, thus making this a much simpler sequence/process.

Then, in Kicad, you load your new Footprint…

Some process images…

Kicad PCB and 3DViewer

FreeCAD (with the exported STEP)

FreeCAD with the PCB Deleted and the Text Added to the Model

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I’ll try to export a 3D Text from Blender and import it as a 3D model in my project. Put it in addition to the current 3D model and use the scale/position/rotate to put it in the good place.

The problem with that solution is that it’s not easily editable after (for each text you need to export/import a 3D model). The good point: I could also make the logos.

I think I have around fifty different texts :nerd_face:

Regarding the Text using ShapeString - my vid on making a Capacitor includes using the ShapeString (here’s the link)

Tip: You can make a 3D-Part of just the Text and make a Footprint with it. Then, in Kicad, place the Text Footprint and adjust it’s position (x,y and Z)… simple

Using FreeCAD enables using StepUp with it’s Footprint making ability. Thus, avoiding having to make a Footprint in Kicad…

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Demo of:

I created ShapeString Text in FreeCAD

Exported as STEP

I made a Footprint in Kicad and used the STEP

I placed the Footprint above the LM7805 and adjusted (edited) the Footprint’s Elevation to desired height


Thanks for the advices!

I make the texts & logos with Inkscape as .svg and import them into Blender.
From Blender I export in .x3d and add on my 3D model in Pcbnew.


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