3D without the M.E.

Most companies using Altium Designer have adopted the use of 3D images into their PCB layout process. This process allows the mechanical and electrical design aspects of the design to integrate better.

Not everyone designing PCBs has access to a dedicated mechanical engineer or high-end mechanical tools such as AutoCAD, Solidworks, or ProE; however, this doesn't mean that the PCB designer cannot take advantage of the 3D capability with Altium Designer.

We will focus on the ways a PCB designer can create or obtain 3D components in Altium Designer.

Topics include:

  • Why using 3D in PCB design is beneficial if not crucial?
  • A brief review of the how-to-draw 3D bodies in Altium.
  • A brief review of importing STEP files into Altium and how to orientate them.
  • Demonstrate the 3D batching capability of Altium.
  • Demonstrate a novel way of creating 3D objects in Altium that the 3D bodies cannot do (i.e., gull wings).
  • Recommendations and sites for finding components on the web.
  • A brief demonstration of the Onshape mechanical tool. This will be presented by Tom Cassidy, a team member who frequently uses this tool to draw 3D bodies for many of our service engagements quickly.

Altium Example from Webinar


In the webinar, there was some discussion about using the PCB board itself to create a STEP file. However, in later versions of Altium Designer, a button in the 3D body properties was provided that allows the user to convert their 3D body into a STEP. Altium Designer does not allow 3D bodies to be rotated; however, once they are converted to STEP, the user may rotate them as necessary. In this video, we will demonstrate the gull-wing creation in the PCB library and show how to create and rotate a solid triangle.

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