DesignSpark and SnapEDA launched a new service for downloading 3D models of electronic components.
DesignSpark is a brand of CAD software focused on electronics design. It’s a way for their parent company to help their sales of physical electronic components, but the software is provided free of charge.
Among their tools are DesignSpark PCB, DesignSpark Electrical and DesignSpark Mechanical, which would be of primary interest to Fabbaloo readers. It’s not the most popular tool, but it does exist and is available free of charge.
The news is that they’ve collaborated with SnapEDA, a search engine for electronic components, to provide an ability to download 3D models for electronic components.
In fact, it appears that anyone can enter SnapEDA and download 3D models of selected electronic components. The interface is a bit tricky, but it is possible to do.
Why would someone want to download a 3D model of an electronic component? Wouldn’t you really want the actual component itself?
There’s a big use for these models when designing products. While the bulk of a product’s design might be its case, buttons and other elements that are created from scratch in a CAD tool, it’s useful to include accurate 3D models of the same electronic components in the design.
This allows the CAD designer to adapt the creative portions to ensure they can accommodate the purchased electronics after the part is 3D printed. Holes will line up, cavities will fit the components, and so on.
Another approach is to use the electronic component 3D model to “subtract” it from the base 3D model. This is a technique that can be used to create dimensionally accurate spaces to fit the components.
However, be assured that you’ll have to know your components closely: SnapEDA has a massive selection of all variations of components. You need to know very specifically what you’re looking for.
The file format provided by SnapEDA seems to be .STP, a common sharable 3D CAD format that should be importable by all reasonable CAD systems.
If you’re designing a 3D printable item that includes electronic components, you might want to check out SnapEDA to see if you can include the components you intend on using in your design.