How to generate a STEP 3D File without small components (reducing the size of the file)

During a product design, you are sometimes brought to work with other designers. To do a well assembly with mechanical part like casing, harness cable… you will probably have to share your design using STEP 3D files. A big problem when you are doing a complicated design is that the 3D STEP can quick become a heavy file (>100mo).  This can be difficult and annoying to send or share (via mail/FTP server) especially when you send your design back and forth to make small corrections…

To reduce the size of the file, the best way is to remove all 3D parts that you don’t need. Generally we use 3D step to make sure everything is well centred, aligned and the design fit correctly and the connectors match with the rest of the design. This means we don’t need to add the 3d models of small packages like 0402 resistors for example. Don’t forget that more 3d models you have, bigger the size of the file will be!

How to choose only big packages?

    • First open your PCB, in 3D or 2D view whatever (in my example I am using the OpenRex Project from imx6rex).
    • Then click on the Panel button on the right bottom side and open the PCB Filter

  • In the filter write : IsComponent and (Height >= 50) 

You can adjust the Height value depending of your needs and if your design is in millimeter or in inch.Don’t forget to check the box Matching: « Select ».

 

  • Now click on « Apply to All ». At this step, all the components that are bigger than your threshold are selected.All you need to do to finish is to click on File->Export->STEP 3D:

  • In the opening window (Export Options) you have to choose « export selected ». This will create a step 3D with only selected components.

  • Here we are, we have now a 3D STEP file definitely lighter than the original one!:

Problems

Components are not selected with the filter!

You will probably be face to this problem, you should know that this problem is not a bug from Altium, but it’s from your design! You have to understand how PCB filter works. When you use the PCB filter, the software will filter the parameter « Height ». This parameter should be filled in every PCB component that you are using.

For example, I have a USB connector, as you can see the Height of the connector is 118mil, it’s correct. The PCB Filter will select the connector when using « Height >= 50 ».

Another example with a SD card slot, you can see that the parameter Height is 0, this means when you will use the filter, as the height is zero the component wont be selected!!:

In conclusion, make sure that all you component have a Parameter Height with the right value before using the filter.

Leave me a comment if you have any questions or if it was helpful. 😉

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