recently i used Blender to create a few 3D models for KiCAD and was unsatisfied with the workflow. I tried different ways to get my models from Blender to KiCAD which all had some minor problems.
- Blenders internal VRML 2.0 exporter doesn’t use all material properties why exported models look not very good in KiCAD.
- Blenders internal X3D exporter works fine with all material properties and the models look good in KiCAD, which can also read X3D models. But when exporting the whole board in pcbnew as VRML all X3D models were missing, which was a problem when importing the whole board back into Blender.
- For me the only working way so far was to export the models from Blender as OBJ or 3DS files and import them in Wings3D. Then i had to export them in Wings3D to the VRML format and can use them in KiCAD with no restrictions. Sadly i found no commandline mode in Wings3D which makes the extra step a bit annoying when converting multiple 3D models.
So i thought that i create a modified VRML 2.0 exporter for Blender which incorporates all relevant material properties. Than i could just use the new exporter and didn’t have to use the extra step with Wings3D in-between.
I used the existing VRML 2.0 exporter from Blender as basis and removed all unnecessary parts (like textures, etc) and added the missing material properties. Now it’s easy to create KiCAD 3D models with Blender in just one step and another good thing is that Blenders VRML models are only about 20-25% the size of the Wings3D exported files because i removed some parts which are not used in the 3D viewer (like Normals).
So if anybody wants to try the Blender addon it could be downloaded from this dropbox link
To install just download the file from pastebin, go to Blender “User preferences->addons->Install from file” and select the Python file. After that activate it in the addon list (categorie TESTING) and you have a new export option available named “VRML2 to KiCAD (.wrl)”.
The default options work for me if you use 1 blender unit as 1mm while modeling. Therefor the default scaling is set to 1/2.54=0.39 to correct the dimension when exporting. When you work with inches you have to change the scaling in the export window.
Suggestions and bugfixes are welcome here in the thread or as private message to me.