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Eagle 3D PCBs with Alibre: Model Sources

Nope, not the kind of models you find at Model Mayhem; this post is all about finding 3D models of your PCB parts.

You can always make your own, but unless you are an MCAD software expert, rolling your own will take a lot longer.

So far I haven’t had to make a model, but I’ve only used connectors, which typically have STEP or IGES models available from the manufacturer.   But many electronics manufactures do not provide models.

Here are some good model sources:

  1. Always check the manufacturer first, especially for electromechanical products (connectors, switches, etc).  You might have to register first.  Also, sometimes you can get a model by asking (I’ve done that successfully with Amphenol).
  2. Check out general purpose CAD part libraries.  I haven’t used any yet, so I don’t have any personal recommendations.  Ten Link’s list looks like a good starting place.
  3. You might be able to use MCAD vendor specific user generated CAD libraries.  If you have good import options (e.g. Alibre Design Expert) you can try importing Solid Edge, Pro/E, or SolidWorks models.
  4. Pay for model creation, using either a free-lancer or a company such as Simplified Solutions.
  5. For MCAD software with an API (which includes Alibre Design), you can use this API and information (for example, from an IDF file) about the part to automatically create models — or pay for someone else’s add-in.  My earlier post has some more information on this approach.
  6. You might be able to use STL, Sketchup, or 3-D POVRay models developed for projects such as Eagle’Up or Eagle 3D.  Sycode makes affordable Sketchup and STL importers for Alibre.
  7. There’s always Google and other search engines.  I place web search near the bottom because a lot of models are hidden where search engines can’t find them.
  8. Do it yourself; in that case, I recommend spending a lot of time and some money learning how to model well (to save you time overall).  The “some money” is best spent on books (such as Introduction to Solid Modeling NOTE: Learn3DCAD website is no longer active) or videos, although don’t forget to search for free resources and check out what came with your MCAD software.

Simplified Solutions does have some interesting solutions, including:

  • An existing library of electrical components in STEP format.  Pricing is reasonable for professional use at $550 for 50 models or $1700 per year for unlimited models.
  • 3D part creation at a reasonable price ($650 for 20 parts, but check on the details; you probably need to provide data in a format they like, e.g. IDF, which for Eagle PCB users means you’ll have to update your library with IDF information).
  • 3D PCB model creation (they model the entire PCB).

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