Introduction: Make Realistic 3D Render of Your PCB Design in 5 Minutes

Since I often creating documentation files with description of a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) part and components I was confused about non-realistic screenshots of PCBA files. So I found an easy way to make it more realistic and beautiful.

Step 1: Things You'll Need

  1. Altium Designer 16 or higher – CAD/CAM software for electronical engineers for PCB development.
  2. PCB project file created in Altium Designer.
  3. SolidWorks 2018 or higher with PhotoView 360 plugin – CAD/CAE software used mostly by mechanical designer for 3D model and assembly creation.

Step 2: Export Your PCB Project File in 3D Format

Open your PCB project file in Altium Designer. Go to Menu bar, File -> Expport -> PDF3D. In a "Save as type" drop down menu select "Wavefront Object (*.obj)" Press "Save". In dialog window check the export options.

NOTE: If "Merge meshes" will be selected SolidWoks will be not able to import the file.

Step 3: Import 3D File to SolidWorks.

Run SolidWorks. Go to Menu bar, File -> Open. In a "File type" drop down menu select "Mesh files". Press "Options" button. In dialog window select "Import as - Surface body". Select Units.

NOTE: Time to import such PCB example file can take up to 10 minutes. PCB files with more components require more time to import.

Step 4: Make Render 

Enable PhotoView360 plugin: Go to "SOLIDWORKS Add-Ins", Press "PhotoView360". A new "Render Tools" tab will appear. Go to this tab and press "Final Render" and get awesome render of your PCB project! Enjoy:)

NOTE: You can modify scenes, apply another appearances and decals for components surfaces that available in PhotoView360 plugin.

Step 5: Video Instruction

Step 6: Useful Links and Materials

  1. PCB Project Example you can find here.
  2. The best site of huge amount of 3D model for your PCB -
  3. Additional appearances for PhotoView360 plugin you can find on