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docdivakar
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Re: How good are PCB 3D models?
docdivakar   10/29/2013 3:16:38 PM
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@TonyTib  I agree... one other tool that is more CAD-friendly is Rittal / ePlan's harness & connector design tool, ePlan3D. One nice thing about this tool is that it lets you calculate the equivalent length of straightened cables (nail board model) before you can shape it in 3D. It supports all major CAD tool formats.

MP Divakar

TonyTib
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CEO
Re: How good are PCB 3D models?
TonyTib   10/29/2013 3:07:47 PM
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Yup, that's fine for chips and such (which are pretty simple mechanically), but pretty useless for connectors (which I use a lot).  Here's a model of a break out board I designed in Eagle PCB, and then did the 3D model in Alibre Design (now Geomagic Design Elements).

Breakout board model
How easy is it to create an equivalent model in PCB software only?

BTW, I haven't got played with it yet, but my quick impression of RS Design Mech is that it should be pretty good for PCB modelling, but not competition for traditional MCAD (e.g. Solid Edge, Solid Works)

alex_m1
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Re: Funnily enough...
alex_m1   10/29/2013 2:31:05 PM
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@Aeroengineer , another free cost tool is circuits.io which have a unique way to modularize schematics and PCB and to share them in a way that can save tons of time and complexity.

It seems like something that can have a big effect on the electronics indsutry if liked by people and semi companies.

docdivakar
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Re: How good are PCB 3D models?
docdivakar   10/29/2013 2:07:50 PM
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@TonyTib  typically one has to define the package dimensions and store in the library for 3D visualization. At the bare minimum, one has to define the component height.

Regarding usable output formats like STEP or IGES, very few or none(?) do that at the moment. Cadence's Allegro does have 3D visualization of the board assembly but the current version does not export to the mentioned formats. STL is good for 3D printing (as are the other models) but not ideal for importing to CAD assemblies.

MP Divakar

tom-ii
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Re: PCB Tools
tom-ii   10/29/2013 6:53:52 AM
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FreePCB has been around a long time.  I don't think it's updated any more, but:

 

1) up to 14 layers

2) it can import a PSPICE netlist (with some work)

3) it has a tie-in to a Java-based autorouter (which is helpful for little things)

4) The footprint editor is fairly easy to use.

I've found it to be a really useful tool for smaller PCBs that I do at home, and sometimes even work....

TonyTib
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CEO
How good are PCB 3D models?
TonyTib   10/28/2013 8:33:12 PM
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Where does the PCB software get its information for the 3D model?  Also, can they output the 3D model is a useful file format (e.g. STEP, not just STL)?

At work, I design our PCS (which are pretty simple) in Eagle PCB, and then pass a DXF footprint over to the ME's, who use 3D models from the manufacturers (typically STEP or IGES) to model the board (occasionally they have to model a new part)   This process works well for us; the ME's can model a board pretty quickly, and we don't do it that often.

Aeroengineer
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Re: PCB Tools
Aeroengineer   10/28/2013 7:53:44 PM
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I had not come across FreePCB before, I will take a look.  What are the features that you like about it?  How does it compare/contrast to other software packages?

 

I believe that some of the tools that I mentioned had the ability to push to a spice simulation, but I am not too sure about the import.  I will see if I can look into that.

Aeroengineer
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Blogger
Re: PCB Tools
Aeroengineer   10/28/2013 7:46:51 PM
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MP, I am glad that you have enjoyed the articles, and yes I have seen that I have a few mechanical guys and gals following along.  I really do appreciate the support.  If there are topics that you would like me to write on, please let me know.  I am always open to considering new things, or perhaps I may already have some experience in these areas.

 

As to the mention of KiCAD, I had not see that thread that you mentioned.  Thanks for pointing it out.  I look forward to seeing the promised blog posts.  I have heard that KiCAD is planning on making a few upgrades.  I had heard that they upgraded their 3D viewer and I hear that they will soon have a footprint generator.  This was the biggest thing for me.  I am not a fan of having to go and dig up something similar to make a new part.  It is just a poor workflow.

docdivakar
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Re: PCB Tools
docdivakar   10/28/2013 7:41:25 PM
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@Adam: you certainly have more than one reader! I think I commented on an earlier article of yours while proudly claiming my mechanical engineering background.

You may have seen another thread last week in EE Times on public domain EDA tools where KiCAD was also mentioned:

http://www.eetimes.com/author.asp?section_id=36&doc_id=1319744

MP Divakar

tom-ii
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Blogger
PCB Tools
tom-ii   10/28/2013 3:38:36 PM
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I have, generally, had good luck with FreePCB.

 

One thing that all of them need is better integration with a spice program.  It would be nice to pull a schematic capture from, say, LTSpice, and use that as the netlist for the PCB CAD software.  Or visa versa...

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