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At ZofzPCB, we understand the importance of visualizing circuit board designs in the most accurate and comprehensive way possible. That's why we've developed our 3D Viewer, a powerful tool that offers a number of benefits for circuit board designers. However, as with any tool, there are also some downsides to consider. In this article, we'll explore the pros and cons of using a 3D viewer for circuit board design visualization, and explain why it's worthwhile to use it.
In conclusion, the 3D Viewer on the ZofzPCB website is a powerful tool that offers many benefits for circuit board design visualization. While there are some downsides to consider, the benefits of the 3D viewer outweigh the cons, making it a valuable tool for designers looking to improve their circuit board visualization and to find issues or mistakes on the board. The 3D Viewer is a fun and interactive way to explore the board, making it a worthwhile tool for anyone working on circuit board design. Users should be aware that the use of the 3D Viewer may increase battery usage and plan accordingly. The flexibility of color usage in the 3D Viewer can be very helpful for understanding the board layout, and showing netlist connections.
ZofzPCB uses a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) via Direct3D to display the image. The drawn/painted layer contains a lot of overlapped objects. Another example is a track in a plane. First, a part of the plane is cleared, and other elements are drawn in the resulting hole. All this higher-level construct must be converted to optimal positive mesh. The result is that even a complicated PCB can be displayed by moderate GPU, usually at 60fps.
A drawback of the flattening stage and triangulation is the time it takes before passing the mesh to the GPU.
The 3D rendering is nicely described in the YouTube video:
How do Video Game Graphics Work?".
ZofzPCB uses mechanisms described up to 17:20 out of 21 minutes of this video.
There is still a lot to do for future development by applying textures (overlapping bitmaps), especially for the components. The above video does not explain the texturing, btw.
Another development direction would be better lighting. At the moment, ZofzPCB uses Ambient and Diffuse Lighting. Adding the Specular Lighting could produce a better view.
The rendering speed allows animating the displayed components, creating unique impressions of rotation, movement, spreading, and stripping layers of the PCB.
The approach lets you keep the frame of reference - it is clear where you are, what had happened to create a particular view.
Please see the video below, showing the navigation possibilities.
Please see the video below, showing the animated selection of layers.