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3D Models of Automation PCBs

I’ve been investigating affordable, automatic creation of 3D PCBs models; what I’ve found doesn’t match up well with my needs.

I would like an easier way to create accurate models of automation PCBs, such as break out boards, which mainly use through-hole connectors (think of something like my FP-SMC-1 PCB).  I want to use the model to verify my footprints, check that everything fits together mechanically (for example, fits into the DIN rail holder without any conflicts), and do an initial check that the board will be easy to use (enough space between connectors, etc).

I’m not interested in an approximate visualization; I want accurate an accurate model (preferably exportable in STEP format) created from manufacturer’s STEP or IGES models (which are typically available for connectors).

I took a quick glance at PCB Pool’s 3D visualization service, DesignSpark PCB, and KiCAD, and felt the reward wasn’t worth the effort of trying to get everything set up.  Later I plan on looking into this again, but for right now, I’m back to using Alibre Geomagic Design and having fun trying to get everything to mate.  (As far as I can tell, DesignSpark Mechanical does not support mating, and it doesn’t export STEP files, so GD is a better path for me).


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