Tutorial: how to export a CI Board from Altium PCB to Solidworks


Tutorial for creating CI Boards in Solidworks from Altium. Besides these programs, you need a PDF writer (I used Acrobat) and a vector drawing editor (I used CorelDraw).

  1. Step 1:

    01 - In Altium, open the PCB file. Access the menu "File / Save As / Export STEP (*.step; *.stp)". Click OK, don´t change anything.

  2. Step 2:

    02 - Access the menu "File / Fabrication Outputs / Final". Right click on the window and select "Page Setup"

  3. Step 3:

    03 - Use the settings shown below, and click on "close":

  4. Step 4:

    04 - Right click on the window and select "Configuration"

  5. Step 5:

    05 - Leave these layers active (7), right click and delete all the others. Click OK.

  6. Step 6:

    06 - Access the menu "File / Print". Print as PDF. Close Altium.

  7. Step 7:

    07 - Open CorelDraw (or equivalent). Start a new drawing using RGB colors, SW doesn´t accept CMYK. Open the PDF file, it will load multiple pages (7 in this example). Each page is one layer, and they are all aligned. On page 1, select all, ungroup it (menu "Arrange / Ungroup All") and using "Fill / Color" tool, change color to RGB 47/72/128. Regroup it (menu "Arrange / Group"). Repeat to page 2.

  8. Step 8:

    08 - Go to the last page, you will see the border of the board.

  9. Step 9:

    09 - Using Bezier tool, redraw the board over it. Use the tool "Fill \ Color" and enter RGB 43/67/79 and no border lines.

  10. Step 10:

    10 - Copy the board and Paste it on pages 1 and 2, moving backwards (shift + pagedown). Page 1 will look like this:

  11. Step 11:

    11 - Go to page 5 (the one with top pads). Ungroup it, and using "Fill / Fountain Fill" tool use the settings below.

  12. Step 12:

    12 - Regroup it, and copy it to page 1. Repeat the same on page 6 (the one with bottom pads) and copy it to page 2. Page 1 looks like this:

  13. Step 13:

    13 - Now, copy page 3 (top silk) to page 1, and page 4 (if your board has bottom silk) to page 2. Page 1 looks like this:

  14. Step 14:

    14 - Page 2 will be inverted, select all and click on the "mirror horizontally" tool.

  15. Step 15:

    15 - On page 1, select menu "File / Export", select "JPG - JPEG Bitmaps", give a name like "Front" and export using RGB. Repeat on page 2, as "Back". Close CorelDraw.

  16. Step 16:

    16 - Open Solidworks. Click "Open" and select type "STEP AP203/214 (*.step; *.stp)". Open you exported board. Save it, and click on "Save All" when asked. SW will save an assembly and its parts. Close it, and open the file "Board.sldprt". Click "Yes" when asked to proceed with feature recognition. You will get a thin board, with all holes and no colors.

  17. Step 17:

    17 - Change the Boss-Extruded to 1.6 [mm]. Click on "Edit Appearance" and select "Polished Steel". That will make the plated holes (there are a few here, but in a large board this will be usefull). Now, using "Control + left click", select all sides of the board (but not the holes) and click on "Edit Appearance" again. Select "Plastic / Low Gloss" Blue and change the colors to 43/67/79.

  18. Step 18:

    18 - Now apply the decals created on CorelDraw, "Front" and "Back". Use "Mapping" function to fit Width and Height.

  19. Step 19:

    19 - The Board is ready. I use parts from GrabCad and 3D Content Central, or make my own to put on the board. This Board looks like this:


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