Flexboards bending and STEP export

I often make flexboards. Is there a way in KiCad to bend these in the 3D view (radius, angle)? Then the board should be exported as a STEP file. This is important for the mechanical designers to import the board into their design program and make collision checks.

KiCad does not go further then exporting a straight .step PCB.
There is no real support for flex PCB’s, and a flex PCB is a choice made when ordering the PCB’s.

I would think that the bending part is the responsibility of the mechanical department.

That’s right, KiCad isn’t a mechanical CAD program. KiCad has a good connection with FreeCAD through the StepUp workbench and maybe @maui is willing to give you some advice.

You can do some ‘cheating’ to get something ‘somewhat useful’ for graphic representation… depends on your cleverness and needs…

Cannot bend boards in Kicad but, you can use a Bent Board Shaped Footprint if willing to put the circuit on an overlayed board… (shown in light green)

In FreeCAD, I Swept a thin cross-section, Compounded it and exported it from KSU Stepup workbench.

In Kicad, I made a Footprint (just some lines for Silkscreen) and used the exported file in the 3D panel (with proper offsets to get what I want).
I loaded the footprint into PCBnew with it’s PCB Setup (board thickness = the one from FreeCAD)

There are ways to make parts/tracks happen on the sides and bottom of the bent shape via separate sections… (that’s where your cleverness comes into play…). If doing in sections, you can do a complete circuit with parts then, load them into FreeCAD and manipulate the ‘Position/Angle’ as needed…

EDIT: You can load a completed (flat) board with parts and traces into FreeCAD using StepUp, then, try using the SheetMetal workbench to bend the board where you want to…

I no longer have the sheetmetal wb so, not able to try it but, might be worth your trying…

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An alternative is to Project the Flat image onto a surface of desired shape using the ‘Part’ workbench and the Projection Tool.

Quick Example… I did this:
Loaded the PCB using StepUp
Created a cylinder (could have been any shape) and positioned it underneath with desired side of projection
Projected each desired items
Colored some items
Deleted and Hide what I didn’t want


Projection makes it wrong size.

It’s for graphic representation ONLY. As the original poster desired for the 3Dviewer (to me, that means/implies only graphic). And, naturally, if accurate dim’s needed, use a Sheetmetal tool/workbench

Euhm, nope.

And some extra character shit to comply to this sutputib forum thingie character length 20 bullshit that does not accept qouted text as “valid”. Sigh.

Thanks for your creative ideas. As already mentioned, I need this to precisely check for collisions, mounting holes, FFP/FPC connectors, etc. I can’t do anything with an empty board. All components must also be aligned. I’ve already used this feature with Altium Designer.

I found a video on YouTube

Brilliant, how easy it was implemented for the user.

The link you posted shows just about the same thing as the actions of using a Sheet Metal tool, as I stated twice (such as this one for FreeCAD)

EDIT - I re-installed the SheetMetal wb and it took about 10 seconds to do the image below. did not bother to bend the traces but, you get the idea (same as in your vid - draw a line and fold at the line… set radius…etc). Everything will be accurately dim’d and usable for Collision checking…

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using FreeCAD and the Sheetmetal WB + the tool ‘Fold a wall using a sketch’ is perfect for the pcb.
But the user would need to place the components on the right angled placement manually. Anyway, using some i.e. drill reference would be quite easy to achieve.

I had some spare time to make a test and it seems that FreeCAD plus StepUpWB and SheetMetalWB and ManipulatorWB are working quite well for this task :slight_smile:


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