In this tutorial series we would like to explain the procedure of creating realistic renders from 3D models of PCBs in Blender. The first part covers the preparation of the 3D objects, the required textures and UV unwrapping.
On GitHub we provide a sample project. There you can download the blender file, which contains a complete setup with models, corresponding textures and shader settings.
The most important thing is of course the 3D model of the PCB. Additionaly, the components placed on it can also be imported. However, these will only be considered in part 3. To import the models into Blender, the board must first be exported from the CAD program in which it was designed. This depends on which program you are using. In our case we exported .step files from Altium and converted them to a .obj file and associated .mtl file using the free tool DesignSpark Mechanical.
After importing the 3D objects into Blender, it is recommended to clean things up. This means simplifying the geometry of the objects, merging objects that belong together and grouping components using collections. This makes it easier to work with the objects and it also improves Blender's performance. These steps are explained in more detail below.