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Conversion? Gerber to 3D (.sat, .dxf, etc)

Discussion in 'CAD' started by Christopher Ott, Dec 11, 2006.

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  1. I'm curious if anyone out there knows of a method to convert Gerber-x files
    to some type of 3D CAD format. I prefer .sat, but I can import most common
    formats. This would be quite helpful for creating photorealistic 3D
    renderings. I'm using Protel99SE in the event there is some built in method
    that I haven't found.

    I know that one of the versions of Protel (after 99SE) could export 3D
    models from the board in 3D function, but the rest of the "upgrade" was such
    a piece of shit that I couldn't bring myself to buy it...

    Any ideas?

  2. surtees

    surtees Guest

    I've used CircuitWorks with both PADS & ProE, great program &
    not to expensive - check out the web page below.


    Steve in New Zealand
  3. Chris,

    Gerber data is 2-D data. That is, X & Y co-ordinates.

    What you are wanting is 3-D. You would need a third dimension (let's call it
    Z) that is not in the Gerber data.


    James Jackson
  4. Looks kind of like what Altium built in the newer versions of Protel.
    Unfortunately Protel99SE does not offer IDF as an export option.


    uldn't see where this handles gerber data, just IDF files which Protel
    cannot export.
  5. Yes, the Z axis would need to be extruded by a nominal distance to show the
    depth of the copper.

  6. Chris,

    So... all you want to see is the bare board copper, and its' associated
    height? What about the components on the PCB?


    James Jackson
  7. Hi James,

    Actually, I have my components modeled up separately.

    My primary goal is to get the top silkscreen layer converted to 3D so when I
    do a wireframe rendering, the silkscreen shows up. I use wireframe
    renderings with a white background for my data sheets (it gives the look of
    being pencil drawn). My current method of applying an image of the
    silkscreen to the surface of the PCB model works nicely for when I want full
    color renderings with shadows and ray tracing and such. But the surface
    imagery doesn't show up in wireframe for obvious reasons.

    Also, on really high end boards, I sometimes like the top layer traces to
    show up in the color renderings. It gives more of a photorealistic effect. I
    currently accomplish this with a surface image as well.

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