Kicad StepUp and FEM Thermo Mechanical Analysis

thanks to FreeCAD community, now it is possible to do some Thermal Analysis on Kicad Boards…
Using kicad StepUp for the conversion from the board and the MCAD model to be analyzed, FreeCAD development release now can do a thermomechanical analysis on kicad pcb boards…
here is a demo of the basics

and here a result of a simulation on a quite complex board
FreeCAD forum: FEM simulation results


Two different builds of 0.17 used for this?
I am still using 0.16 so far, the new features of 0.17 are not discussed yet on the FreeCad website that I can see

Is that just assuming an isotropic board or does it use the copper layer patterns as well?

this is on the edge of developing … still not fully supported in windows without some tricks
at the moment just board and chips are supported, but still is something that only expensive sw tools can offer … and here everything is open source
but the concept under this is that FreeCAD is going to be more and more a stronger companion of Kicad for ECAD MCAD Thermomechanical collaboration design…

I’ll have to try to find time to try it one day. The interface looks much easier than other interfaces to SALOME and the various flow solvers.

Do you think it is better in this case to use IDF extrusions to describe the components in the analysis?

I hope it develops to a degree where we can see the heat dissipation on internal layers etc. :slight_smile:

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Seems @maui just got incentivized to someday being able to grab the copper information from KiCAD to get it over to STEP :wink:

Annyhow, very nice work and cool visuals. Keep up the good work! :+1:

this tool is at the very early stage, so bounding boxes are perfect for now
(you can obtain the board with bounding boxes directly with kicad StepUp)
… but the tool is very promising and there is a lot of effort on it!
later on it will be possible to add directly the STEP models and copper layers … just stay tuned to FreeCAD dev channel :slight_smile:

This weekend I was wondering about this… did anyone tried it?
I remember setting up this thermal simulation a year ago, but I don’t remember how and the youtube video seems down…
I’m also wondering if the tool improved and if we have a way to export the step model of the copper layers :grinning:
We have a couple of OSHW boards that would look great showing this because the critical thermals are in resistors not connected to copper pours and TO-247 transisors, so we could work without copper information.

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this is a new FEM video tut from the original author

I’m also wondering if the tool improved and if we have a way to export the step model of the copper layers

FEM workbench has improved a lot, but those improvements are available only on FC0.17.
This workflow has to be adapted from mechanical point of view to electronics boards environment.

StepUp is still aimed to MCAD collaboration, so no copper layers are available ATM.
There is some work done on that direction, mainly for CAM pcb manufacturing…
At the same time the calculation for a bare pcb and bounding boxes of parts is already quite heavy in computational resources…
There is also some work in progress for improving the generation of thermal modelling…

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Thanks maurice.
That video showcases a metal part, very low thermal resistance, its different for electronics. I just installed a daily build to try to figure it out. So far I have a mechanical load simulation working.

I found the python script for CAM manufacturing, but crashed on my .kicad_pcb file, it probably doesn’t like a nighly file format.

I would suggest you to post your query to FC forum… FEM devs are very helpful