Putting components on both sides of the board

I am designing a 4 layer board and want to put components on both front and back side of the board. I selected appropriate option on the layer selection stage in the PCBnew.

So now, how can I make sure I am really keeping the components on both the side? I can select different layer and do thinks like power plane creation etc. but component placing part is not clear to me.

Can anyone please help?

When moving the component hit “F” to flip it to the other side of the board, you’ll notice the pads on SMT parts change from red to green or back. Alternatively right click the component and select “Footprint xx on layer x.Cu” -> “Edit parameters” and on the left in the group box labelled “side” select Top or Bottom to choose what side of the board the part will go.

Using the 3D view can help visualise what the real board will look like, especially if you’re using a newer version with the “Realistic View” option.


Another thing (albeit a possibly confusing way of doing it) is to turn off the pads and tracks on the bottom side of the board, When you do what Nathan says and Flip (by hitting “F” to the bottom side), it will effectively make the part “disappear” because the bottom layer is hidden. However, as in any design, I usually recommend that you make a “best guess” placement of your components up front to make your layout a little smoother.

Along with what Nathan said, I recommend making your colors between the front and backside drastically different. Instead of the green/red default, I usually prefer yellow/red because it’s such a change in brightness as well. Change colors by middle clicking on the layer in the list of all layers and a dialog appears.


Hi Chris, do you know if there’s a way to flip the current view so the back side is facing the user, and the front side is facing away from the user (i.e. opposite of the way it is by default)? I’m having a hard time looking into the mirror and will probably avoid stupid mistakes if there’s a way to do this. :smile:

get a login for launchpad and support the wishlist feature on there (click on this bug affects me too) once you’re registered… link for bug/wishlist is in that thread ^^

You could open the 3D viewer and flip the board over to see how the backside actually looks. Not the most convenient technique, but it has the advantage that it is already working.

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Time to figure out how Wings 3D works! I have always ignored that installation option in the past.

Ok, I’ll do that now.

@devbisme meant the inbuilt 3D viewer that comes with KiCAD (PCBnew > View > 3D Viewer) or just hit [F3]

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Ah, okay thanks for the clarification. I had no idea that was possible. I’ve just registered on Launchpad and +1’d the request.

That’s a really nice feature. But I hate the way it rotates because it’s completely different that the mechanical CAD systems I use. :smile:

There is some work going to enable board flipping in pcbnew, hopefully this will make the next version!

The 3D viewer is a very cool feature and even better now.

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start reading here in regards to 3D view navigation developments/etc…

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Thanks for the link. I have a lot of reading to do. I agree with your points about rotating about the click location. Like inventor, that’s how geomagic and solidworks work as well, and it’s just way easier to use… of course, that’s probably subjective. Anyhow, very cool to have the 3D viewer and now I have to figure out how to put the components in, so I’ll read up on it. May post if I still can’t figure it out. Thanks!

Quick question regarding this.

I’m designing a SMT board. I want to place the components on both sides of the board to make the board smaller. I figured out how to place the components on the back side. Thanks to this thread.

However, how do I connect a footprint on the back side to the footprint on the front side. There is no way to avoid this. Is it possible or shall I just go with bigger but one layer board?

Thank you

Varun R

You will need to use vias. As you have such a beginners question i suspect you might be interested in this: Tutorial: Introduction to PCB design with KiCad version 5.1 (Getting Started) (For your current question: see section Vias for Connecting GND pads.)


Thank you for your reply. Sorry, I’m new to SMT board design.

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No need to apologize. https://xkcd.com/1053/

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I’ll often put all the SMT on one side and through hole on the other which does help make the board more compact, however if I tried to put SMT on both sides the ones on the underside would likely reflow and fall off when I flip it over to bake those on top, or at least that’s what I thought.

How were you planning to avoid that (or is it not an issue and I should double-side without hesitation)?

There are some techniques to mount components on both sides. Sure there are some tutorials in the internet (I have found a good tutorial in Spanish).

Most common technique is adding adhesive paste to the components soldered in first place so they cannot fall down when the card is flipped and heated in the oven the second time. This is the purpose of the F.Adhes and B.Adhes layers in Kicad.