Altium Designer adds a 3D PCB layout tool

While we love open source tools like KiCAD, Altium has added a pretty cool feature to the Altium Designer program with a 3D layout tool, which, as the name suggests, enables 3D PCB design…

The new 3D layout tool is based on 3D-MID technology which combines electrical circuits with three-dimensional mechanical parts. I don’t know who really needs it, but I have to admit the results look pretty good.

Altium explains that the design process is quite similar to standard 2D PCBs, and that designers would create a layout on the surface of a 3D substrate using the standard library components and with connectivity driven by the schematic design of the same way than with a standard PCB. You can see how it works in a video shared on Altium’s LinkedIn account.

The designer then exported the files in the format required by LPKF Laser & Electronics AG’s direct laser patterning process for 3D-MID parts. You also need to find a PCB manufacturer that can handle this specialized process. One of them is HARTING, as Thomas Hess, Head of Product Development and Technology Roadmap, explains on LinkedIn:

At HARTING, we specialize in manufacturing [of] 3D circuits. Altium’s 3D layout software was developed with us, and we can load data exported from Altium Designer directly onto our production machines. Please contact us when you have a concrete price request.

Altium also lists other companies that should be able to handle 3D PCB manufacturing including TEPROSA GmbH, S2P – Smart Plastic Products and Beta LAYOUT GmbH, but I’m sure more will come along if this type of 3D PCB becomes somewhat popular.

3D PCBs, 3D circuits

More details on 3D-MID technology can be found on the Website 3d-circuits.com. The Altium 3D layout tool is only available in Altium Designer beta at this time, but You can try it by logging into your Altium account or by contacting Altium’s Jack Henriques (see LinkedIn link above).

Going through QWave Systems (Facebook)

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