RS Components has announced a new pcb converter for SketchUp tool that enables designers to import intermediate data format (idf) files into Google SketchUp.
According to RS, the new module adds a 3d CAD back end capability to pcb design tools and takes SketchUp into the electronic product design domain, transferring files from any CAD environment providing idf output into COLLADA format. PCB Converter for SketchUp can be downloaded free from the DesignSpark SparkStore, from the RS website, or from the plug-ins area on the Google SketchUp website. Google SketchUp is a free 3d design tool, and is rapidly gaining a following with electronics design engineers. This is not only due to its capabilities as a CAD package, but also the fact that many of these capabilities are available in the free version. RS' pcb converter allows users for the first time to import idf files, a file specification designed specifically for the exchange of printed circuit assembly data between mechanical design and pcb layout. Electronics engineers can export pcb designs into Google SketchUp to assess compatibility with the mechanical constraints of enclosures and mounts. This allows them to make design decisions immediately and avoids the need for redesign requests and design reviews. Users can then incorporate 3d models of popular electromechanical components to complete the design. CAD models of products in the RS product range can be downloaded from its website in SketchUp compliant format (*.skp) and used in the tool. Stephen Dapkus, from the Google SketchUp team, said: "PCB converter for SketchUp offers electronics design engineers a new pathway to move seamlessly from eCAD to 3d MCAD design. Google is … proud to see Google SketchUp being used by RS as a key component in the delivery of free access design tools, integrating the design journey for engineers."