Associating 3D Models with Footprints

I’m updating a v4 PCB to v5 and adding STEP models to all the components. I downloaded the Packages3D directory and put it into KiCad\share\kicad\modules. If I open a footprint in the editor and select Properties, there is only a wrl model. I can add the STEP model to the 3D models, but I cannot then save the footprint to the library it came from because it’s a kicad master github library, so I’m stuck saving a bunch of generic components like 0603 resistors to my own library, which seems kind of silly. I feel like I must be missing something basic - is there a way to set up the directories and/or paths so that the STEP model is automatically associated with the footprint when a library component is loaded/placed/updated?

Typically we just use the WRL models provided in the library for kicads viewer. They are made from the step files, so the accuracy should be the same. When exporting a step board with KiCad or kicad stepup, they are automatically replaced with their step “Sister”

Hm, there must be something wrong with my setup. In v4, I had all the vrml models in the 3D viewer, but in v5 I don’t see any 3D components in the viewer until I add the STEP models. I didn’t know that exporting automatically substitutes the STEP models - that’s fine.

The naming scheme has changed quite a bit between 4 and 5, perhaps your footprints are simply pointing to the old models

Probably. And I should probably give up on updating old stuff and just start on new boards. It’s difficult to find a concise guide as to where to put everything and how to set the path variables (if that’s necessary); there’s a lot of disjointed information scattered around from the past year or so. I assume it’ll all be packaged in a nice installer eventually but I have a new job coming up soon that I want to start in V5, so I’ve been “practicing” with the nightly builds.

At the middle of the page there are links for:
Library Downloads for the Future KiCad Version 5

I think that is part of the work in progress;; but I don’t think that will happen at the current point in time. Others on the forum will know more than I do.

Yes, that’s where I downloaded them from, and I believe I put them in the same directory that the v4 libraries were in (renaming or deleting the v4 libraries).



I just started with KiCad2 a month ago. I installed V4.0.7 and quickly realized V5 was far better so I installed V5. Now I was in the same boat as you. Being a new user, simply finding the correct directories was an effort.

So…I uninstalled everything, (I’m using Windows 10)

  1. Installed a V5 nightly (with no libraries at that time)
  2. Created the following directory: C:\Kicad_Libraries
  3. I installed all the V5 libraries as shown in the photo.***
  4. Deleted all environment variables and pointed to the libraries from the program setup


What I think I accomplished was:

  • I understand the Library structure
  • I can easily back up the libraries.
  • I probably cannot easily update the libraries (but I don’t know yet as I haven’t tried)

So far everything works.

*** From each library copy sym-lib-table and fb-lib-table to C:\Users<your_acct>\AppData\Roaming\kicad

Hi JohnRob,

Thanks for your most helpful reply. I’ve been cleaning up my directory structure and “Environment Variable Configuration”, and I think the last piece of the puzzle may indeed be the lib-tables as you point out. Tomorrow. :slight_smile:

I’ve used v4 for a few years actually, but never had to mess with this stuff because the installer took care of it all. One thing that’s maddening is the inconsistent nomenclature: “footprints” go into “modules”, and “symbols” go into “libraries”, etc. Of course once you know it you know it, but when you don’t, and there’s no step-by-step in a central location, it can be confusing.

And I agree that v5 looks to be a lot better than v4 in many ways!

Remember: You are not running kicad v5. You are using a nightly (=development) build! V5 has not yet been released.

One of the reasons libs are not included in windows nightlies is that you are expected to update them daily. If they included the libs you would need to download nearly one gigabyte every day. So the decision was made that libs are not to be included for windows nightly build installers. (There simply are not enough resources to provide two installers for nightly builds.)

For linux the libs are a separate package. (At least for ubuntu and other well supported distros) But even then the sym lib and fp lib tables can not be updated by the installer as it is likely that you will have personal libs in there as well. Meaning you would loose access to your personal libs if it would update these files. (Kicad 4 did not update the fp-lib-table if you updated kicad. It only updated the local libs if they where even included.)

The full v5 installer will most likely take care of the lib setup in the same way the v4 installer did. (But again updating kicad will never update your personal files. Two of these personal files are the sym-lib and fp-lib tables.)

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Yes, of course I understand that and that I am a bit on the bleeding edge here, but I want to get a head start on v5. I doubt that the distinction affects the inconsistent nomenclature that I mentioned. Also, whose idea was this color scheme of black on brown?!?! :upside_down_face:

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