Where to start with 3D models for custom parts?

To follow up on what @LsDelancy stated. You should install two tools:

  1. FreeCAD
  2. @maui`s StepUP tool for KiCAD

Checkout the StepUP thread(s) here and the tool instructions. Once you have the part 3D model, StepUP will read in the KiCAD footprint file and the 3D step file and allow to to interactively align them in FreeCAD. Then, it will write the properly aligned and formatted models back out to your KiCAD library path for use.

I don`t draw models from scratch unless I have to. Here are the places I look:

I already see a few on GrabCad that may match your footprint.

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Be careful when using externally sourced 3d models. Always read the license they have. Most of them do not allow you to share the models with third parties. A lot of them do not allow the use for commercial use cases.

Thanks to all!
You have given me a lot to check out and look in to!!!

Yes, I did not mention this. The three links above have similar in licensing. Generally, you can use the models for your own projects, but may not redistribute them (i.e. don’t submit them back to be placed in the KiCAD library) as @Rene_Poschl has pointed out.

Many are produced by the part vendor themselves to encourage use of their parts commercially. May times you may find the vendor has a model along with its datasheet for download. Again, free to use commercially on your product, but you may not redistribute.

I couldn’t find anything on the manufacturer’s website.
I also can’t access Grab CAD here at work.
But, I’ll check it when I get home.
The actual generating of the 3D model(s) in Inventor would realistically take me less than 30 minutes, but the import process may very well turn out to be more demanding! LOL
If I can’t find a model I’ll be more than happy to share whatever I create here.

please have a look at here

particularly Align Parts and User’s video tutorial…

there is a new Gui I forgot to mention

hoping this will help :smiley:

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Thank you again!

I’m leaving the office in 10 minutes and can’t wait to get home, knock out the “honey do’s” and get on the laptop!

For Inventor based modelling the orientation that gives you placement at 0,0,0 without any further messing is like this (1mm in Inventor = 1mm in KiCAD):

As per image, you need to create the parts as one continuous piece.
Materials can be assigned to features or even faces - only color and shininess info will make it though, no textures.

If you want opaque parts you have to get creative (search forums for my posts on this) as Inventor (tested up to 2015) can only handle this kind of setting per part and not per feature/face.

For direct use in KiCAD you use export as STEP format, like this:

Be aware that if you share your STEP file there will be information about you in them. I run mine past a FreeCAD script that @maui made to get usage license information in there and my personal info out of there.

PS: for DXF outlines for complicated pcb outlines I also posted stuff on the forums. Start with Sheet-Metal in that case and export the flattened part…


That’s good stuff! Thank you, that info will certainly make getting through is faster!!!
I can’t wait to get in there and give it a go!
Now, if life would just quit getting in the way…

With regard to accessing free 3D models I also wanted to point out that we provide access to free models through https://www.ultralibrarian.com/ and have a special page dedicated to KiCad file exports https://www.ultralibrarian.com/solutions/cad-vendors/kicad-pcb-libraries I hope you can find this information useful in your search for free CAD models.

What is the license of the resulting files?
I assume the user can not share files downloaded from your webside. Otherwise your businessmodel will break down. (This would rule out the use of your stuff for any open source project. It does not rule out the use of these files by a kicad user creating a closed source project.)


Generally you are not allowed to redistribute the parts you download; however, you may redistribute your designs, and your designs can have our parts in them, so I don’t think there’s an issue creating open source projects with our parts. With regard to sharing downloaded files, there’s no point in sharing the parts since anyone can go get their own, but we’re really not worried about what most people do with the parts they download. Our main concern is that someone is not building their own library for redistribution.

Well no, because I can take parts out of an Open Source project and redistribute them. With your parts, I couldn’t do that.

Considering that your license agreement threatens to sue users who break the agreement, it is irresponsible to suggest people use your parts in ways not compatible with the agreement.

There is a point, which is that it is very tedious downloading individual files. In KiCad, it would be much more convenient to have a footprint library hosted on github for example.


I tried two parts and just got directed to a page that links to retailers. No models included. Won’t be bookmarking and using the site at all.

There is also the 15 downloads a week limit. (Might seem a lot but this is used up quite fast.)

Just to be clear: Nobody is complaining that you offer this service. But be up front what the exact terms of your license are.
And make sure you understand them before telling us it is ok to use something in an open source project.
There is a difference between one employee of a company promises that it is tolerated to use something in an open source project compared to it is explicitly allowed by the license.
A non binding promise can be broken. This might happen if your company is bought by someone who does not like open source for example.


Do you happen to know if these same rules hold true for models created in Solidworks?
I can’t seem to get any time at home to get back to work on this, but I can use my lunch break at work to whip this up real quick at the office.

You may find this useful

But I would suggest to give a try at StepUp that can import your footprint in the mechanical CAD, then your work will be easier :wink:

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Solidworks is a tool. The choice of copyright of the output belongs to the user (or their employer)

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He was replying to Joan, about alignment I suppose

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Yes, I was asking about the orientation and scaling.
The linked post answered the orientation question.
If I’m reading right, SW models will have to be scaled where Inventor models do not?
Everyone says to model in MM, but I drew my footprint in mils, so I assume I can create my model in inches as well?