Printing PCB with air-wires / ratenset

Hi. Getting to really like Kicad, after switching from Eagle. Being that I spent 25 years using eagle there are a few things I am used to that I cant figure out how to do in Kicad.

In eagle, the ratsnest / air-wires are on their own layers. you can choose what layers you want to print, so when we have to add forgotten components to boards that have already been fabbed, its nice to add the component, and have the air-wires so that the tech’s know where the forgotten component needs to be.

To make it short, how can I print the front side of my PCB WITH the air-wires present? Kicad seems to erase them when I print them, and I dont see an layer that they are on.


KiCad is not Eagle.
At the moment KiCad’s use of the ratsnest is only to help you finish routing on the PCB. I have never even tried to print it.

On the Layers Manager on the right side of the screen:

there are a few layers that are specifically designed to add notes or custom graphics to the PCB. All the layers ending in “.User” are completely free to draw whatever you want on them.

For more info on working with layer, check out chapter 5 of the manual at:
Pcbnew / Help / Pcbnew Manual.

My I politely ask that you make air-wires / rats nests their own layer in the future? Also, could you do this for pads and vias? This is extremely useful cam information.

I dont know if you have ever used Eagle (some of which they really got right before they spent the first part of this decade ignoring) – but the CAM output on eagle allows / needs you to tun on multiple layers when making board gerber files. For example, you turn on front, pads and vias for the top layer. You turn on back, pads and vias for the back layer. If you wanted to, you could turn on the rats nest layer too. It make it very flexible for output files.

Just a request, not anything more. thank you so much for all you are doing for the PCB community. I plan to try an contribute my skills one day if I can ever get my head around some of the code.



This forum is by end users for end users. “We” are just peer users. Some developers occasionally read this, but it’s not guaranteed.

More versatile printing/plotting wouldn’t hurt, of course, but are the use cases actually so common and can’t be replaced with other features or workflows so that implementing new features is feasible?

First you should give a much more detailed explanation of your use case. I tried to read it carefully several times, but because I don’t have seen or felt any need for those kind of things, I don’t understand what you want and why this would be needed.

Second, see if printing instead of plotting can help you. It’s not meant for CAM but can still print 1:1 with some options.

Because KiCad is mostly developed by unpaid volunteers in their free time and the wishlist is endless and there are many pressing needs for professional use and common use cases, I doubt this would get high in the prioritized wishlist. But you still can file an issue in the database, and who knows, maybe a developer gets interested or sees how it can be implemented as a byproduct of some larger issue.

Don’t get discouraged by my opinion; make a strong, detailed case, and maybe others will agree with you. Generic features which satisfy many needs are of course more probably implemented than ad-hoc solutions for ad-hoc workflows.


This shows a fundamental difference between KiCAD’s and Eagle’s data models. In KiCAD each design layer is an artwork layer. Where as what you are describing is what seems to be similar to my past experience with CADStar V (yes… that long ago) and MCAD (more recently) where each artwork layer is a combination of multiple design layers. The two data model philosophies may look similar on the surface, but have about as much in common as consubstantiation and transubstantiation. I.e. the underlying philosophies are incompatible with each other.

I’m not saying one is better than the other, but I do have to admit that I personally prefer the KiCad model where we have the one design layer = one artwork layer. And unfortunately for your use case, ratsnest lines aren’t even a design layer.

There may be another way around this, but AFAIK the only way to get a printout of the ratsnest lines is with a screen capture. But, I don’t know if I would trust that for much until curved ratsnets lines (or some other solution) gets implemented because two ratsnest lines of different nets on top of each other is indistinguishable from a single line.

For example, take a 4-pin header. Pins 1 and 3 are on net A, and pins 2 and 4 are on net B. The ratsnest view in KiCAD will look like all four pins are on the same ratsnest line because of the two overlapping lines.

Just a side note - it’s already implemented in 5.99.

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Screenshot or it didn’t happen ! :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s in Post-v5 new features and development news.

Thanks Eelik, it does look nice indeed ! :slight_smile:

I don’t see any advantage in having to turn on three layers to get one gerber.
I can’t imagine any real need (what could be advantage of that way of making gerbers) to get for example a top layer gerber with tracks and pads but without vias.

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