Thermal Analysis Using KiCad

I have my PCB design in Kicad V.6.
There are some high power traces on the board. Is it possible to run a thermal simulation to analyze temperature profile for given trace currents etc.? How this can be done possibly for free if a software addition is required.

I don’t know of a free system that includes using the copper traces in analysis, but a long time ago I used the FreeCAD StepUp workbench to convert a KiCad board design and then used FreeCAD’s other thermal analysis tools to approximate dissipation. This thread is probably what I originally found.

For context while you search for more detailed tools, the general term involved is “Finite Element Modeling” or FEM. Unfortunately, the tools tend to be very expensive: especially if they take into account the copper thickness, width, ground plane dissipation paths, etc.

There have been some plans to integrate FEM into KiCad, see Finite Element Simulation (FEM) integrated into pcbnew (#8398) · Issues · KiCad / KiCad Source Code / kicad · GitLab, but I haven’t seen any new action by @pointhi.

there is a new try here:

@MitjaN did some very interesting work… I don’t know if he is still on the subject


There have been some plans to integrate FEM into KiCad

@eelik this seems very promising… hoping it is still active

This looks so cool, thank you for updating me!

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It seems like FreeCAD is not at this time at a level to import a PCB design into it and analyze thermal characteristics.
Is it possible to simply layout a bare FR4 PCB with a few traces and analyze temperature rise vs. trace currents it in FreeCAD?

I posted this (Link) a good while back… It may be helpful…

So there is an adventurous user who is trying to incorporate SparseLizard into kicad for this

With some detective work you’ll notice that @Drinausaur who was mentioned by pointhi in the FEM related issue linked to above is Fabien Corona who made the merge request.

Sparselizard could be very useful, still there is a problem to fully integrate FEM in kicad until a real MCAD kernel could be merged (i.e. to a full 3d analysis of pcb plus models)

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