This guide shows you the basics of converting an STL file to a STEP file. STL files are a 3D mesh format mostly used by 3D printers, but in the world of engineering CAD and CAM, most software requires solid models. The most universal solid model format is STEP (.stp, .step). Ideally you'd begin with a solid model and avoid STLs entirely, but maybe you found the perfect object on Thingiverse or you used a 3D scanner, and there’s no reasonable way to begin with a solid model. Or maybe you're already doing solid modeling, but you need to incorporate an STL model into it. This guide shows you a file conversion process that has worked well for me.
Prototyping circuit boards is an important part of product development. Ordering prototypes from a PCB manufacturer is either very slow or very expensive (and still kind of slow). To speed up the process, many people etch boards themselves, which is much faster than ordering them but requires toxic chemicals.
It’s hard to manufacture stuff repeatably. Unlike the software universe, where you can make exact copies, the physical universe isn’t uniform and nothing is created exactly the same way twice. Everything manufactured from physical materials falls on a spectrum, and it’s up to you to decide what part of the spectrum you’re willing to accept.
It’s no secret that the Othermill is a phenomenal tool when it comes to milling custom circuit boards. Hobbyist, students, and professionals alike have shared stories of how the Othermill has significantly improved their workflow and allowed them to rapidly prototype like never before (read a few in the story links below).
We love hearing that, almost as much as we love supporting our users and helping making their experience as simple and fun as possible. To that end, we’ve been working hard to increase the support guides we have available. Here is a list of resources that we hope you enjoy and find useful as you mill PCBs on your trusty Othermill.
What’s an .svg file? Scalable Vector Graphics (.svg) is a common image file format. Unlike raster image files (like .jpg, .gif, and .png) that store images in grids of colored pixels, .svg files store image information as lines and shapes. As such, they can be scaled to any size and still look perfectly sharp, unlike a .jpg, which may look fuzzy and pixelated when scaled up.
More importantly, because .svg files store shapes instead of pixels, Otherplan can turn the shapes into toolpaths, which you can then cut on the Othermill.