3D Body

Parent page: PCB Objects

A sphere, a cylinder and four extruded rectangles have been used to create the 3D body for an LED.


A 3D body is a primitive polygonal design object that is used to represent the three-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 available 3D body shapes include extruded polygon, cylinder and sphere. They can be placed into a PCB library component footprint. Their overall shape is displayed when the editor is switched to 3D display mode (press the 3 shortcut). 3D body objects can be placed on any mechanical layer.

Placing 3D Body objects to define the component's shape allows you to get a real sense of the arrangement and organization of the components on the assembled board. As well as being able to see what the finished board will look like, real-time 3D clearance checking can be performed. Working in the PCB Editor's 3D mode is greatly enhanced by using a 3D mouse. This makes the process of moving and turning the component or board very easy; it is like holding the component or board in your hand.

STEP models can also be used by importing the model into a 3D Body object. STEP formats AP203 and AP214 are supported. In this situation, the 3D Body object acts as a container for the STEP model. You cannot graphically modify the 3D Body object or the enclosed STEP model.


3D bodies are available for placement in the PCB Library Editor only by clicking Home | Place |  from the main menus.


After launching the command the 3D Body dialog will open. Placement is made by performing the following sequence of actions:

  1. In the 3D Body dialog select the 3D Model Type from the available shapes: Extruded, Cylinder or Sphere. Alternatively, enable the Generic 3D Model option if you want to embed an external STEP model.
  2. Each 3D body can be named; this helps identify each element when multiple 3D bodies are placed to create a complex shape. Enter a suitable name in the Identifier field.
  3. Each shape must have a defined size before it can be placed. If the chosen shape is Extruded, define the Height; if it is Cylinder, define the Radius and Height; if it is Sphere, define the Radius.
  4. Set the 3D Color and the 3D Color Opacity as required. Note that these can be edited later if needed.
  5. Click OK to close the dialog and return to the workspace.
  6. If the shape is Cylinder or Sphere, the cursor will be moving in the workspace with a rectangular shape attached. Click to place the 3D body.
  7. If the shape is Extruded the cursor will present, ready to define the the polygonal base shape of the extruded 3D body:
    1. Click to define the first vertex.
    2. Move the cursor ready to place the second vertex. The default behavior is to place two edges with each click, with a user-defined corner shape between them. Refer to the Placement Modes section.
    3. Continue to move the mouse and click to place further vertices.
    4. After placing the final vertex, right-click or press Esc to close and complete placement of the 3D body. There is no need to manually close the 3D body since the software will automatically complete the shape by connecting the start point to the final point placed.
  8. The 3D Body dialog will re-appear, ready to configure the next 3D Body for placement. Configure the dialog settings and continue placing 3D bodies, or click Cancel to exit placement mode.

3D body objects can be placed with the display in 2D mode or 3D mode. When a 3D body is placed in 3D mode, object movement is restricted to the X, Y plane meaning that the cursor cannot be moved in the Z direction. Generally, it is easier to perform initial placement in 2D mode where objects can more easily be aligned.

Placement Modes

While placing an extruded 3D body there are five available corner modes, four of which also have corner direction sub-modes. During placement:

  • Press Shift+Spacebar to cycle through the five available corner modes: 45 degree, 45 degree with arc, 90 degree, 90 degree with arc, and Any Angle.
  • Press Spacebar to toggle between the two corner direction sub-modes.
  • When in either of the arc corner modes, hold the  or  keys to shrink or grow the arc. Hold the Shift key as you press to accelerate arc resizing.
  • Press the 1 shortcut key to toggle between placing two edges per click, or one edge per click. In this second mode, the dashed edge is referred to as the look-ahead segment (as shown in the last image in the set below).
  • Press the Backspace key to remove the last vertex.

Press Shift+Spacebar to cycle through the five available corner modes, press the 1 shortcut to toggle placement between two
edges or one edge.

Graphical Editing

This method of editing allows you to select a placed 3D body object directly in the workspace and change its size, shape, or location graphically.

Note that sphere and cylinder 3D body types can only be moved in the workspace. They cannot be modified graphically with respect to their size or shape.

For an extruded 3D body, click once on the object to select it, which puts it into edit mode. The outer shape of the 3D body object is defined by a series of edges, where each edge is represented by an end vertex at each end, and a center vertex in the middle, shown as a solid white squares. Each end vertex represents the location where two edges meet.

A selected extruded 3D body

  • Click and drag A to move the applicable end vertex.
  • Click and drag B to move the applicable center vertex, effectively creating a new end vertex and splitting the original edge into two.
  • Click anywhere along an edge, away from editing handles, and drag to slide that edge.
  • Ctrl+click anywhere along an edge, away from editing handles, to insert a new end vertex.
  • To remove an end vertex, click and hold on the vertex then press the Delete key.
  • Click anywhere on the 3D body – away from editing handles – and drag to reposition it. While dragging, the 3D body can be rotated or mirrored:
    • Press the Spacebar to rotate the 3D body counterclockwise or Shift+Spacebar for clockwise rotation. The Rotation Step size is defined on the PCB Editor – General page of the Preferences dialog.
    • Press the X or Y keys to mirror the 3D body along the X-axis or Y-axis respectively.

An object that has its Locked property enabled cannot be selected or graphically edited. Double-click on the locked object directly then disable the Locked property to graphically edit the object.

Non-Graphical Editing

The following methods of non-graphical editing are available:

Via an Associated Properties Dialog

Dialog page: 3D Body

This method of editing uses the following dialog to modify the properties of a 3D body object.

The 3D Body dialog

The 3D Body dialog can be accessed during placement by pressing the Tab key.

After placement, the dialog can be accessed in one of the following ways:

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

Quickly change the units of measurement currently used in the dialog between metric (mm) and imperial (mil) using the Ctrl+Q shortcut. This affects the dialog only and does not change the actual measurement unit employed for the board as determined by the  and  buttons in the Home | Grids and Units area of the main menus.

Via the PCBLIB Inspector Panel

Panel pages: PCB Inspector, PCBLIB Inspector

The PCBLIB Inspector panel enables you to interrogate and edit the properties of one or more design objects in the active document. Used in conjunction with appropriate filtering, the panel can be used to make changes to multiple objects of the same kind from one convenient location. The PCBLIB Inspector panel is ideal for editing 3D body objects since the changes can be seen in the workspace without needing to close a dialog. For example, if you are aligned two body objects with the display in 3D mode, you can watch as you change the Model Z setting for one of the objects (there is a brief pause after changing a 3D Body setting in the PCBLIB Inspector panel).

Other 3D Body Editing Features

Including a Texture

Extruded objects can also include an image overlaid on the upper most surface. When a Texture File is added, it is automatically stretched to fit to cover the entire upper surface of the 3D body as shown in the image below. This can be adjust by altering the Center location, Size and Rotation settings in the 3D Body dialog. Note that the texture file is embedded in the Library or Board file.

Supported Texture File formats include: *.bmp;*.dds;*.dib;*.hdr;*.jpg;*.pfm;*.png;*.ppm;*.tga.

A texture or logo can be added to an extruded 3D Body object.

Snap Points and Axes

Snap points and lines of Axis can be added to a 3D body. Snap points define points at which the 3D body can be held. When the cursor is moved close to a snap point and a click and hold is performed, the cursor will jump to and hold the 3D body at the snap point. The image below shows a 3D body with two snap points defined. Axes can be added to provide a visual aid for positioning and orienting a 3D body.

Add Snap Points to a 3D Body to hold the object during positioning.

Maintaining Component Clearances

Add Component Clearance design rules to check for collisions between components that include 3D body objects in the X, Y and Z planes. This allows you to fit one component over another component. Multiple rules can be defined to handle different clearance requirements. Note that the Design Rule Check does not test for 3D body objects passing through the board.


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