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I would like to model a PCB (copper tracks with different shapes that are separated by gaps, with everything on a subtrate material).

Something like this:

enter image description here

Here is an example of my attempt with one track:

enter image description here

I tried the following, but none were really convenient in terms of being able to define the track dimensions:

  • Making a solid copper plane, and then using the knife tool to cut out tracks. This added lots of extra edges.
  • Modelling the tracks as cubes, and then trying to fill the solid areas of copper around it.
  • Using cubes as a boolean modifier to cut out the gaps:

enter image description here

What would be a sensible way to model this?


Edit

As suggested by @maddes8cht in the answer below, I have tried to use a black and white image as a texture for a displacement modifier, but it requires so much subdivision on the plane that Blender struggles to run:

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ You are probably better off doing the design in a dedicated program like KiCAD and importing in Blender $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 3, 2023 at 12:30
  • $\begingroup$ Your model has tracks with the same height as the rest of the plate but being separated from it with "gaps", which doesn't fit the reference image, that has the tracks having a different height... $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 3, 2023 at 13:05
  • $\begingroup$ @MarkusvonBroady The reference image was the best I could find. What I want to achieve is closer to my attempt shown in the OP. (I.e. imagine starting with a solid plane of copper and then "etching away" gaps, finally resulting in separated tracks). $\endgroup$
    – teeeeee
    Commented Oct 3, 2023 at 13:09

2 Answers 2

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I would highly suggest to do something like this by using an image of the circuit, or by drawing it as a BW-image, and use that image as a mapping for everything necessary:

  • To select the material for the white and for the black parts of your image;
  • To use something to show a slight height effect. This may be:
    • a bump map with or without a normal map - this one should work with EEVEE too,
    • a real displacement modifier using that map, with a very small scale value. This will only work in Cycles renderer, but if you somehow need a real height of the surface, this is the way to go. To use that, you also need to subdivide the surface of your plate fine enough to make it work.
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  • $\begingroup$ I'm sorry, I don't quite understand what you mean. Do you mean create a black and white image of the tracks and gaps in a separate software package, and then use it to somehow create new geometry in Blender (create the necessary edges in a mesh, etc)? $\endgroup$
    – teeeeee
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 9:08
  • $\begingroup$ "Do you mean create a black and white image of the tracks and gaps " ==> yes || "then use it to somehow create new geometry in Blender (create the necessary edges in a mesh, etc)" ==> No! || It's about creating a complex material using the image as a map. Get used to the concepts of bump maps, normal maps and displacement maps. Except for the use of displacement maps, which actually deform a mesh and therefore need an underlying high resolution mesh to work properly, no further geometry of your plane is needed. Consult tutorials about materials, bump maps, normal maps. $\endgroup$
    – maddes8cht
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 9:30
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for this clarification. I would like to have the underlying geometry, to be able to zoom right into the track and gap later. I have therefore followed your advice about the displace modifier. See my edit to the OP. The problem is that I need lots of resolution even in areas where there is no detail. Did I follow what you suggested properly? $\endgroup$
    – teeeeee
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 16:36
  • $\begingroup$ I have no idea what you are trying to accomplish. Based on the original post, it was about the traces on a PCB. Such tracks are not very deep, especially in relation to the width of the tracks. After all, they are only etched. For such a scenario, the method I described is certainly the most suitable, given the almost non-existent depth of the traces, bump and normal maps should then indeed suffice. But the lanes shown in the screenshots are actually deeper than they are wide. This has nothing to do with the reality of printed circuit boards. $\endgroup$
    – maddes8cht
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ Even then, the displacement method can be a good choice - but it will be difficult to get sharp edges. This follows from the fact that the geometry of your B/W image does not match the subdivision geometry of the mesh. You can try to make the subdivision exactly match the pixel resolution of the image, but even then the exact palzing of the image can be difficult. So if you really want to get such a deep geometry with sharp edges, polygon modeling might actually be the better choice. $\endgroup$
    – maddes8cht
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 19:43
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If you really want to poly model it : draw the shape of those lines and circles with (poly) curves (or extruding vertices in object mode), then when you have them all, extrude them (flat along the surface), join the gaps in between (F, fill) and/or create the missing quads manually. Pretty straightforward.

Of course as always, there are dozens of ways to achieve a result. You could also do the design in 2D (which would be tremendously faster), and use that alpha to "print" the shapes in a flat subdivided plane.

All depends on what's the final use for that thing.

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  • $\begingroup$ When you say "do the design in 2D", do you mean in a 2D CAD software? (e.g. Autocad). If you don't mean that, isn't the first approach (poly modelling with curves) also a 2D approach? $\endgroup$
    – teeeeee
    Commented Oct 3, 2023 at 12:30

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