Altium Designer Documentation

3D Body

Modified by Phil Loughhead on Jun 16, 2017


The 3D Body Dialog.

Summary

The 3D Body dialog allows you to modify the attributes of an extruded, cylindrical or spherical 3D Body object in the PCB editor, or to link to or embed a generic STEP model. A 3D body is a primitive polygonal design object that is used to represent the 3 dimensional shape of the physical component that is mounted on the assembled PCB. Any number of 3D body objects can be used together to create complex shapes.

The following 3D model formats can be used in Altium Designer:

  • Altium Designer 3D Body Objects, place these to build up the required component shape.
  • STEP models - *.Stp and *.Step
  • SolidWorks parts - *.SldPrt
  • Parasolid Models - *.x_t and *.x_b

Generic model support includes STEP, Parasolid, or SolidWorks format models when choosing a model from the 3D Body dialog.

For more information about 3D Body, click here. For more information about using 3D bodies in a component Footprint, see the Creating the PCB Footprint page.

Access

The dialog can be accessed during placement in the PCB Editor, or PCB Library Editor - select Place » 3D Body from the toolbar to commence the placement process and open this dialog.

After placement, the dialog can be accessed in the PCB Editor and PCB Library Editor in the following ways (in 2D display mode):

  • Double-click on the 3D Body object.
  • Place the cursor over the object, right-click and choose Properties from the context menu.

Options/Controls

3D Model Type

Select a model type for the 3D body object. The editing and control options vary for each type, providing controls necessary for sizing and positioning in the 3D workspace. Available options are:

  • Extruded - Interactively define the plan view of a 2D shape, which is then extruded by the amount defined in the Extruded section of the dialog.
  • Generic 3D Model - In this mode the 3D Body is simply a container for a linked or embedded 3D model. The placed 3D Body is automatically shaped to be the smallest rectangle prism that just encloses the model. Supported 3D model file types are STEP File (*.Step; *.Stp), Parasolid File (*.x_t; *.x_b), and SolidWorks Part File (*.sldprt).
  • Cylinder - A 3D cylinder, which has its radius and height defined in the Cylinder section of the dialog. In the default orientation the cylinder stands vertically, use the Rotation settings to change the orientation.
  • Sphere - A 3D sphere, which has its radius defined in the Sphere section of the dialog.
  • Convert To STEP - Click to convert an Extruded/Cylindrical/Spherical 3D Body object to a STEP model. Use this feature when the design includes an Extruded 3D Body object that needs to be rotated. The STEP model is automatically embedded in the design file.

Properties

  • Identifier - A human-readable name used to identify the 3D Body object. Identifiers are useful for selecting a 3D body in the PCB panel.
  • Body Side - The side of the board the 3D Body will project from. This will be either Top Side or Bottom Side (project up, or project down). This setting is automatically changed if the 3D Body object is flipped to the other side of the board as part of a component flip.
  • Layer - The Mechanical Layer that the 3D Body exists on. Only mechanical layers that are currently enabled are available. If the chosen mechanical layer is paired, then the when the body is flipped to the other side of the board as part of its component, it will also be moved to the paired mechanical layer.
  • Locked - Check this option to prevent the 3D Body from being inadvertently edited or moved.

Display

  • 3D Color - Click the 3D Color swatch to specify the 3D Body's color using the Choose Color dialog.
  • 3D Color Opacity - Specify the transparency of the 3D body from invisible (left-most) to completely opaque (right-most). This setting is a permanent setting for this object, it is also possible to adjust the object opacity temporarily in the PCB panel, when it is set to 3D Models mode.

The next four sections (Extruded, Generic 3D Model, Cylinder & Sphere) will be optionally displayed according to the chosen 3D Model Type.

Extruded

  • Overall Height - The distance from the board surface to the topside of the Extruded Body.
  • Standoff Height - The distance from the board surface to the underside of the Extruded Body. Use a negative value for Extruded Bodies that must pass down through the PCB.
  • Texture File - Defines an image to by displayed on the top surface of the Extruded Body. Accepted file formats are *.bmp;*.dds;*.dib;*.hdr;*.jpg;*.pfm;*.png;*.ppm;*.tga
  • Center - The X and Y offsets that the center of the texture image will have with respect to the center of the top surface of the Extruded Body.  For example, a value of 100mil, 0mil will shift the center point of the image 100mils in the X direction from the center point of the top surface of the Extruded Body.
  • Size - The width (X-direction) and height (Y-direction) of the texture image. By default, the texture image will be uniformly scaled to fit the bounds of the top surface of the Extruded Body.
  • Rotation - The counter-clockwise rotation angle of the texture image.

Generic 3D Model

  • Filename - The name of the file containing the 3D model. The text below this entry will reflect whether the model is currently embedded, or linked. In the latter case, the path to the file will be presented.
  • Rotation X - The angular rotation (in degrees) of the 3D model around the X-axis.
  • Rotation Y - The angular rotation (in degrees) of the 3D model around the Y-axis.
  • Rotation Z - The angular rotation (in degrees) of the 3D model around the Z-axis.
  • Standoff Height - The distance from the board surface to the underside of the 3D model. Use a negative value for a model that must pass down through the PCB.
  • Embed 3D Model - Click to open the Choose Model dialog, from which the designer can browse their hard drive / network and select a 3D model (STEP, Parasolid, SolidWorks Part) to embed.
  • Link To 3D Model - Click to open the Choose Model dialog, from which the designer can browse the defined model paths and select a 3D model to link to.
If no model paths have been specified, click the Add Directories button to access the PCB Editor — General page of the Preferences dialog. In the Models region of the page, click the Model Search Paths button to open the Model Search Path dialog. Click the  button to browse and locate the folder containing your 3D Model files, then finally click the Add button to include that folder in the Model Search Path list. After clicking OK to close the Preferences dialog, all 3D models (STEP, Parasolid, SolidWorks Parts) found along the paths will be listed in the Choose Model dialog.
Note when the Generic 3D Model option is chosen, the 3D Body object simply acts as a container for it, and it is automatically re-sized to enclose the chosen model.
  • Update from Disk - this button becomes available when the 3D model is linked, and the linked file has been detected to have been modified. Click to update the 3D body with the latest model information in the linked file.
  • Remove - click this button to remove the 3D model (irrespective of whether it is embedded or linked) from the 3D body.
  • Change to Embedded - click this button to switch from using a currently linked 3D model, to using an embedded instance of that model.

Referencing a Vault-based 3D Model Item from a 3D Body

If you are defining the 3D Body object, and want to reference a 3D model that is stored in an Altium Vault, this can be done from within the 3D Body dialog, when defining the properties for the body.

To do so:

  1. Set the 3D Model Type to Generic 3D Model.
  2. In the Generic 3D Model region of the dialog, choose the Vault option.
  3. Click the Choose button to the right of the Item Revision field. This gives access to the Choose Item dialog – essentially a trimmed incarnation of the Vaults panel. Use this dialog to browse to, and select, the revision of the required 3D Model Item. After clicking OK, a link will be created between the 3D Body and the target revision of the 3D Model Item. Evidence of this link can be seen back in the 3D Body dialog.
The 3D Model Item being used can be changed at any time - simply click Choose and select a revision of a different 3D Model Item.
The status of the linked 3D Model Item is reflected in the 3D Body dialog. If a newer revision of the linked Item is available, simply click the Update to latest button, to use that latest revision.

Cylinder 

  • Radius - The radius of the Cylindrical Body.
  • Height - The height of the Cylindrical Body.
  • Rotation X - The angular rotation (in degrees) of the Cylindrical Body around the X-axis.
  • Rotation Y - The angular rotation (in degrees) of the Cylindrical Body around the Y-axis.
  • Rotation Z - The angular rotation (in degrees) of the Cylindrical Body around the Z-axis.
  • Standoff Height - The distance from the board surface to the underside of the Cylindrical Body. Use a negative value for a Cylindrical Body that must pass down through the PCB.

Sphere

  • Radius - The radius of the Spherical Body.
  • Standoff Height - The distance from the board surface to the lowest edge of the Spherical Body. Use a negative value for Spherical Body that must pass down through the PCB.

Snap Points

Snap points are reference points that can be useful when moving or aligning 3D Bodies to other PCB objects. Each Snap Point is represented by 3 thin, white lines that mark the Snap Point location. When you click and hold on a 3D body, the cursor will automatically snap to the nearest Snap Point or vertex. Note that 0, 0, 0 is located on the base of the object, at the geometric center of the 3D body when looking down at it in 2D display mode.

  • Add - Attach a new Snap Point
  • Delete - Remove the currently selected Snap Point 
  • Average - Replace two selected Snap Points with a new Snap Point at the midpoint between them.
  • X, Y & Z - The Snap Point's position on the X-, Y- and Z- axes respectively, click to edit.

Axes

Axes can be used as a reference when aligning a 3D Body to other PCB objects. An axis is essentially a dashed line drawn between the points defined by the Origin and Direction X, Y, Z locations. Note that Origin 0, 0, 0 is located on the base of the object, at the geometric center of the 3D body when looking down at it in 2D display mode.

  • Add - Attach a new Axis.
  • Delete - Remove the currently selected Axis.
  • Origin X, Y & Z - The co-ordinates of the starting point for the axis, click to edit the values.
  • Direction X, Y & Z - The location in space that defines the end point of the axis, click to edit the values.

To toggle the units of measurement used in the open dialog between metric (mm) and imperial (mil), press the Ctrl+Q shortcut. This affects the dialog only and does not change the actual measurement unit currently employed for the board, as determined in the Board Options dialog.

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