How to share step 3D model with all the components on the PCB too?

this is kicad pcbnew basic interface…

  • File Export
  • VRML
    I cannot include the kicad manual in StepUp guide…
    Can you confirm that in pcbnew 3d-rendering you see the 3D parts correctly?
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Okay Great! Yes I have now changed the settings to match your screen shot thank you. I was exporting the defaults. So now what I Do with the correctly exported VRML file with FreeCAD…

Yes I do! But it is KiCAD? It hasn’t changed at all from the steps I did above?

PS what problem are we trying to solve :blush:, I get a STEP output file, but its just not as nice as the VRML PCB. I think it is working…as per this image: No?

so what is your prob?

  1. you have your Kicad board and you can see it in internal 3D-viewer
  2. you have a FreeCAD 3D MCAD model of your board and parts both in native FreeCAD file and in STEP format
    then … you are not able to see VRML exported file with parts?
    that is really strange … anyway as I told you you may share the board with the forum or with me to check your internal 3D config… or you may create a test board with i.e. two or three components and do the same conversion for that and see if you have the same prob … then send that test board…
  1. STEP file is a mechanical file for MCAD interchange … not mainly for artistic rendering …
  2. I though you were asking help to interchange STEP data (that is the title of your thread)
  3. you are visualizing the FreeCAD wired interface… changing to ‘Shaded’ will please you a bit, but still you are not in the right path … kicad StepUp is a set of tools for MCAD interchange … if you need just a realistic rendering try to learn Blender…
    that image is done with Blender using all models coming from kicad StepUp…

Also Altium does not export copper or silk
Because Altium does not export either copper or text, the file size is reduced without losing mechanical information about individual objects on the board.
so there is no point in having that, unless you are focused on photo realistic rendering


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Hi Maui, thank you for your great help.

The MCAD work you have done has helped a lot of people. Although photo realistic rendering looks nice, it is not as useful as the .STEP output. .STEP output is what the people want!

I only meant the PCB file has extra info like silkscreen and pads and copper. So I thought maybe one could combine them, but I see no now. KiCAD stepup is way more useful than the VRML output.

Thank you again!

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you can export your VRML for a realistic rendering, but you need a correct configuration…
the Blender rendering it has been done using the kicad VRML export menu…
Moreover you could add silkscreen and pads and copper to MCAD file in a tricky way as I suggested few post before to xavierw … but this is something different and requires more work in MCAD environment…

here there is a fully Open Hardware KiCad project that @Anool did at Hackaday with all STEP and VRML models coming from @Anool, @Joan_Sparky, me and StepUp libraries
I updated the 3D VRML models adding Material Properties as per your Guide Lines

hack-VRML.7z (272.8 KB)

hack-fused_FreeCAD-016.7z (780.7 KB)
and the MCAD + VRML combination (mechanical model plus VRML aesthetics)

They are not as nicer as @xavierw rendering but at least they are GPL’d and fully shareable … this, IMO, is the only way to have a MCAD collaboration, the only other option is buying STEP libraries around
I hope they could be useful for your rendering tests…
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Materials look ok. Was it render in 3d-viewer using all material properties?
Next week I will try render it in raytracing…

I think so (you can see a shiny border of usb connector in 3d-viewer)… anyway I zipped also the VRML files with models up-there so it is just easy as a click to test it

Render with the new work in progress 3d-viewer:


If you’re talking about MCAD files like STEP (or even IDF) then scaling is frowned upon and you would need a STEP model for each scale of box you use. The scale factor is only ever applied to the VRML/X3D models because those models do not have a mechanism for conveying the units used and different generators will create models with a different defacto unit. Although you can abuse the scaling to rescale a box within VRML, that sort of thing is simply not done in the MCAD world.

If you want eyecandy you would need to use Mario’s branch:

Then you will have a pretty board in View3DScene which uses the STEP models. The only downside is that the only currently supported color model is RGB; STEP allows for more complex color models and one day we may be able to support the OpenGL lighting model for STEP in cases where the model specifies the extra information.

just played with Blender and wrl materials

and some lights

rendering time 30s on a mobile platform…
all the models come from FreeCAD (parametric scripted or manually generated) converted to VRML with kicad StepUp and imported in Blender automatically assigning the materials as in the models :smiley:

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I got this up and running in about 30 minutes with my board. This is a great tool!


Well, then you’re ahead of me, that’s for sure :laughing:

@Ldoiron17 thanks for your positive feedback! :smile:
I’m always happy to see that my StepUp tools are @ work!
When I started my StepUp project I was a completely noob in FreeCAD, so I made them thinking that the user would be able to play with the STP exporting without a knowledge of FreeCAD itself…
That approach it becomes useful also if the user has a different MCAD software to play with mechanical design.
@Joan_Sparky … I’m sure that when you’ll need a mechanical collaboration with kicad in some of your design, you’ll get StepUp exporter working very fast! :wink:

That is the reason I needed it. I am designing an open source motor drive board that uses a CPU cooler for thermal management. I will post some renderings up when I get it looking good.

I don’t plan on using freecad too much, I have solidworks and I am not willing to make the switch until there are some more functionalities available in freecad.

@maui I haven’t quite figured out how to take a single .wrl file and create a step from it using your macro. I tried the “Export toKicad” STEP and scaled VRML 1/2.54" button but it doesn’t seem to have any outputs or errors when I click this.

I want to take some of the stock .wrl files from the kicad standard libs and port them over to my own libraries, so this conversion will be really useful when I figure it out.

Any advice?

@Ldoiron17 the path from wrl to STEP is not useful / feasable, you will get a very bad STEP model coming from a tessellate model (VRML is a lot of triangles representing the outer surface of the component)
It is a pity because all the kicad mesh models out there are useless for MCAD world…
The only way is from a mechanical model STEP to a VRML model
for that reason I started the 3D MCAD library of STEP models

please have a look there to see if you can find the models you are missing, or just put a list here and I will see if I could found some for you

Ah, that makes sense why I couldn’t figure that out. I looked there for the footprint I want but couldn’t find it. I need a directfet package. I will draw it up in solidworks and make a step and vrml of it.

Is there one place where all of the 3D stepup models are living? The most comprehensive spot I found was @Joan_Sparky’s github link here:

I just use that github repo to have a place for @maui and the rest of the gang to get to the ones I made :wink: