Life size view of PCB

Hi all,
I wanted to view on the screen a life-size rendition of my PCB.
I have found this is not possible to achieve.
Can I suggest to include this option on next version of Ki-Cad?


Afternoon, what do you mean “lifesize”
Do you mean visually scaled
Do you mean rendered

Hi Naib,
thank you for your response.
For life-size I mean that if i measure the PCB on the screen, with a ruler, it will reflect the actual distentions of the manufactured PCB.

Some time ago I made a little tutorial for test-fitting footprints.
The main steps are:

  1. Print the PCB mirrored on paper.
  2. Glue on some cardboard.
  3. Cut it out / punch holes with a needle.
  4. Try if your footprints fit in the holes.

This is of course real-size and you can also use the mockup to test if you can mount it in a cabinet, if screws are too close to the side or footprints, or all the other real-life thing that are hard to see on a monitor.


I’m not sure this can be achieved because even when the app can read the DPI it may not be accurate. And how would you put a ruler to the new curved screens? Why not use the dimension tool?

3D view or Layout?
Both can be zoomed, naturally not to the exact dimension as your screens DPI plays a role and KiCAD has no control over that, except for providing smooth zooming instead of the stepped system we have now (which has its reasons).

Also, much more importantly, what are your trying to accomplish? - most boards are tiny and its not useful to look at them in their real size if we need microscopes to actually assemble them anyway.
Maybe there is another way for you to do what you actually want to do?

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thank you for your comment.
It would be nice to see a real size, 3d model of your PCB.
Currently this is not possible. Maybe the zooming step could be reduced, so that one can get closer to the real size.

I do understand that sometimes there are some technical obsticals to overcome.
You could have a way to know how close to the actual size the 3D model is.
So you then adjust the zoom the best you can, and the print it-out.


You mean a physical 3D model of your pcb to make fit tests in enclosures/etc. with?
Or just the 3D view on your screen so it matches real world size?

The physical 3D route is done via STEP export and then using whatever toolchain you got to get it printed with a 3D printer.
Plenty people doing this on a regualr basis.
See StepUp workbench in FreeCAD for one example.

Export to Autodesk Inventor shown…

As for the 3D view on your screen…
If you have the 3D view in window mode (not maximized) you can adjust the window size and fine-tune the size of the 3D view on the screen to real world dimensions.
But again, no point in doing this.

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I’m not entirely sure, but I think you’re betting on the wrong horses.
I assume that what you want is to get a better idea and feel of what the PCB is really like after it has been manufactured.

Accurate scaling is not the biggest limitation you are facing in this regard. The fact that your monitor is flat and can only represent an approximation of a 3D object is a much bigger obstacle, and KiCad can’t change it.

Another problem is that you can’t hold the PCB image in your hand. Not only for the actual feel of holding it, but also to see the PCB in relation to other objects such as your hand. This can be partially fixed. For example you can export the PCB to .step and load it in a mechanical CAD program and put some real-life objects next to it. Best case you have a 3D model of the housing in which the PCB is going to be mounded and can put it in there for size comparison and testing mounting hole locations.

thank you for the comment.
I really like this forum. People are so helpful and knowledgeable.
I have started using KiCad for 4 months now. For a free package it is really good.

I print a paper copy of my board. My printer is right on for size. I do not trust a new printer so I usually (for the first time) mark some sizes on the PCB. I mark the board outline as 10cm x 9cm and then make certain the printer is accurate.

I have seen software where you can calibrate the monitor to real numbers but this adds a real burden to the CAD software. I just checked my monitor. 93.66 dots/inch horizontally, 93.9 dots/inch vertically. The CAD tools would need to know that. All that is already worked out through the print and plot functions.


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