1 2 First Previous 20 Replies Latest reply on Aug 22, 2018 6:17 AM by Wim Creyghton

    3D PCB viewer

    Wim Creyghton

      We are using VX.1.1 and we don't have the 3D Layout option.

      If I want to view my board in 3D, I can make an IDF file.

      This IDF file will only show the PCB, the components (boxes) and holes in the board.

      Is there a way, direct from Xpedition or with a 3rd party plug-in, to view all the items (components, traces, pad's, holes) on the board?



        • 1. Re: 3D PCB viewer

          maybe of help, to provide review documentation we use a free gerber viewer (GC-Prevue)

          link here

          GraphiCode - The Original Gerber viewer

          We export gerber/nc drill data from expedition and import in GC-Prevue - this can then be view by engineers and manufacturing to review data and includes all layers including traces, holes, parts and testpoints.

          It is only 2D so not much use if you require a 3D view.

          • 2. Re: 3D PCB viewer
            Wim Creyghton

            Hi Greg,


            For viewing gerber we have a Gertool license.

            It is for one of our customer who wants to see the PCB in 3D for mechanical checks.

            All the pcb's must fit in custom made housings, so 2D in no option.

            • 3. Re: 3D PCB viewer

              If you are wondering if there is a free IDF Viewer, there are many. The first one I tried worked well:

              3D PCB - Simplified Solutions Inc.

              If you are looking for a Viewer that shows traces pads and holes, Mentor has that for free (PCB Browser)

              If you want to see traces pads and holes in 3D, I know Charles Pfiel's illustrations in his book "BGA Breakouts and Routing" had some beautiful examples of that, but I'm sure it wasn't FreeWare or Shareware that created them. I've never heard of a free app that could do that yet.

              (write back if you find one!)


              • 4. Re: 3D PCB viewer

                Check this free program out. 3D gerber viewer. Mentor are you seeing this? Very cool!



                ZofzPCB: FREE 3D Gerber Viewer. - YouTube

                • 5. Re: 3D PCB viewer


                  That is really cool!

                  Just tried it, up and running one of my designs in less than 10 minutes.

                  (can't believe it's free - what's the catch?)

                  worth a look, anyway...



                  • 6. Re: 3D PCB viewer

                    Jack, I don't know. Has to be a catch. Right! I have not tried it yet. Looks really cool! Just need to get IT to let me install it now. They block me from downloading it.

                    • 7. Re: 3D PCB viewer

                      Just tried ZofzPCB loaded a design very impressive at first sight.

                      Tried to load another design and nothing happens - think it could be the design is too complex, but not sure. Maybe it just really takes a long time to load more complex designs.

                      Definitely worth looking at as a 3D viewer.

                      • 8. Re: 3D PCB viewer

                        From the eevblog "just tried one of my 'monsters' ... took over 3 hours to load and crunch but  renders perfectly"

                        • 9. Re: 3D PCB viewer

                          Thanks for info, just a case of impatient user (i.e. me) not allowing enough time for program to do its stuff.

                          • 10. Re: 3D PCB viewer
                            Wim Creyghton

                            I have tried the ZofzPCB tool and it looks nice. It is a representation of the layout, but you can't add or export 3D (STEP, IDF) related files.

                            Our customer wants that for mechanical checks in his own system.


                            I did a little research about different PCB design software with 3D view / 3D rendering / STEP import/export and I was shocked what I found.

                            When we switched to VX.1.1, I thought that the 3D Layout option was a standard feature in the software (especially the xPCB Layout 200 version), because Mentor claims to be "The EDA Technology Leader" and 3D layout is the new standard.

                            I was wrong. 3D layout for Xpedition in not standard and costs a few thousand Euros / Dollars .

                            This is i.m.o. not right.

                            Even PADS standard, which is a lot cheaper, has a 3D rendering with STEP import/export feature.

                            All the big software competitors like Altium, Pulsonix, Cadstar and OrCAD have 3D standard functions.

                            Even Target3001, PCB123, DipTrace and KiCad have 3D standard functions, where PCB123 and KiCad are even free and if you look at the different Electronics Component Distributors like DigiKey (Quadcept), Farnell (Eagle), RS (DesignSpark) and Mouser (Multisim Blue) they all have free or cheap software with 3D options.

                            So i.m.o. if Mentor still wants to be the EDA Leader in the future, they have to make the 3D option a standard feature and not a special option you can buy for a lot of money.


                            I'am using the Mentor tools (Veribest --> Expedition --> Xpedition) since 1998 and I was very happy with the software, until now.

                            If I want to compete with my VX.1.1 software against the other tools I think I will lose it on the 3D part.

                            More and more of my customers are asking for some kind of 3D / STEP view, import/export option which they can use for verifying and checking.

                            If nothing changes, it is just a matter of time for me to leave the Mentor software and I think other users will also make this decision and maybe they already have.

                            • 11. Re: 3D PCB viewer

                              I have downloaded the viewer and unable to load my gerbers. I am using VX.1.1 (update 7) and exported gerbers but they do not import. Does the tool require 274D gerbers or 274x ? Also, can it import ODB data instead? Any help is much appreciated.

                              • 12. Re: 3D PCB viewer


                                I am sorry you feel this way.  However I need to provide some additional information.

                                • 3D in Xpedition is not just a viewer.  Our customers to Mentor 3D viewing was not enough therefore asked us to integrate a full 3D environment into the layout product.
                                • It support full 3D Placement Planning and Placement within the 3D View
                                • It's has incremental update capabilities for 98% of the changes.  Thus placement, routeing, drawing will be reflected in both 2D and 3D view dynamically.
                                • We have full online 3D DRC for components as they are placed and moved including separate warning and error clearances.
                                • We have full Batch 3D DRC using the same clearance definition as online
                                • The system support full DRC thus when you move a part in 3D it continues to validate the clearances in 2D but then allow additional 3D validation.
                                • We can import 3D Models with full visualization, online and batch DRC
                                • We can easily map 3D component models to your existing design library.  As of VX.1.2 we automated support parametric model mapping for parts in your design that do not have 3D models.
                                • We have full MCAD Collaboration between ECAD and MCAD using IDX and ProStep
                                • Ability to Export a STEP model of your design.
                                • I had one customer said that Xpedition 3D shaved 2 weeks off his layout schedule specific to electrical mechanical validation so the ROI is real.

                                You can not compare our xPCB 3D solution to pretty much all of the ECAD providers mentioned specific to functionality.  Xpedition's 3D Kernel is modern (for which we pay royalties to our development partner), supporting very high performance 3D visualization and DRC.  I know that some of the system you list fall apart as soon as you have a design with any real number of 3D components or imported 3D assemblies.  In the end we priced all of our 3D technology ~$1000 US which is extremely low compared to other add-on's features and was made very low on purpose.


                                I hope this helps others understand there is a difference between technology and features specific Xpeditions 3D Layout and we are being told by our enterprise customers that what we have provided is the Cadillac of 3D EDA solutions with a very low price point. 



                                2 of 2 people found this helpful
                                • 13. Re: 3D PCB viewer
                                  Wim Creyghton



                                  Thanks for the additional information.


                                  I know that the Xpedition 3D option is very powerful, but something worries me.

                                  It is an option, where other software, like Altium (costs a 1/3 in comparison with Xpedition), put it in as a new standard.

                                  I think, when Mentor wants to be the best in class, don't make it an option.

                                  Nowadays I have seen that companies switched from Xpedition to Altium because of the price/function ratio.

                                  Some high tech companies are even switched to Eagle or KiCad, what in my opinion not a good development is.

                                  The PCB designer has to work with the software that his manager buys and the manager don't want to pay for something that he can get cheap or free.

                                  Also Eagle and KiCad are getting stronger and stronger, where KiCad has a CERN development roadmap.

                                  I, as a PCB designer, want to work with a nice piece of software, but my manager only looks at the costs.


                                  We will see where this ends in a few years.




                                  • 14. Re: 3D PCB viewer
                                    Wim Creyghton

                                    This is what I was looking for: http://www.ecad.io

                                    A simple online ECAD to MCAD file conversion tool which replaces the 3D viewer in older Expedition releases.

                                    Now you can load an IDF file and convert it to a Step file which our customer can use.

                                    You can replace the IDF component boxes for nice component shapes.

                                    This tool and maybe the ZofzPCB tool closes the gap between nothing and Xpeditions 3D Layout.

                                    We do not all need a "Cadillac" to go from A to B!

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