Blender -> KiCad 3D model export plugin


Those of you who use Blender know that it contains a VRML export plugin. This plugin was totally useless for KiCad, models produced by it would not display in PCBNew in the best case, in worst they could even crash the 3D previewer.

So I took it and modified to make its output compatible with KiCad. After a month of thorough testing I can say with confidence - it works, and it works excellently.

The plugin can be downloaded here:

The same GIT repository contains a number of KiCad footprints & 3D models I made in past weeks.

Here are some examples of models I did with the plugin, rendered in pcbnew:


More examples, as the above link seems dead :frowning:

Great ! Thanks!

I want to ask how precise is blender to model a 3D model ?

It will be as precise as you wish (but you pour more time into it of course). However, if you need models for mechanical purposes I do not recommend using Blender or any other VRML generator. Instead use STEP (or the older IGES) and Maurice’s StepUp tool (which you can search for in the threads). Maurice also has an ongoing project to create STEP models of parts via FreeCAD.

In the development branch of KiCad there has been a lot of work in the past year to support rendering of STEP/IGES models and I’m hoping that all packaging issues can be sorted out so that the next stable release will include all these goodies.

Of course if you only want a nice 3D render then VRML models are perfectly adequate.

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You mean this one ?

it is great ! Thanks .

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Hi @sprhawk
thanks for using my kicad StepUp tools and for the skull you gave me :smiley:
please fell free to ask for any advice you may require

Blender is 100% precise. I do my models using manufacturer drafts together with the footprint, and usually after I open the 3D preview the model fits absolutely exactly in its place.

Also, Blender allows you to enter coordinates and sizes manually. For example, to create a simple 0805 resistor you can create a box, then open the object properties dialog (press ‘N’) and change box size: set X size (length) to 2.0, Y size (width) to 1.25 and Z size (height) to, say, 0.8. Then you can export it to KiCad WRL (File -> Export -> KicadVRML2) and instantly try it in pcbnew.

I like FreeCAD but it’s in its early developement, while Blender is a stable mature program with very advanced editing capabilities. Perhaps Blender misses some ‘real CAD’ features but for KiCAD-related tasks it is more than enough.

Blender is a very good sw, but the problem is CAD interoperability. …
If you have a look to all main ECAD packages, STEP is the only format used for 3D mechanical designing…
unfortunately Blender is lacking of STEP import and export plugins …
so the best choice is a sw that can handle STEP format which is the status for ECAD MCAD collaboration…
Moreover, using STEP you don’t even need to design anything; you can just get the model directly from the manufacturer…
MCAD road is the only way to have also interference analisys. …
I use FreeCAD to design 3d models or enclosures and Blender to create realistic rendering… so my path is using STEP as source for mechanical design and VRML as 3d rendering both in Kicad and in Blender…

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For most professional KiCad users, “3d rendering looks beautiful” is less important than “does it fit in the box”

Maybe write a STEP import / export plugins for Blender is not a hard thing ?

If Blender has that plugins ?

@maui I’m just a beginner to KiCad. I’m digging many aspects on it. I’m a programmer too, maybe some day I can write a great plugin too, haha

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That’s a good point, maybe one day I’ll write a STEP input/output plugin for Blender :slight_smile: then you can do interference analysis in Blender as well. In fact, it would be useful if KiCad could export directly to some 3D format.