Protocase Designer 5.0 is live! (Download it here, if you haven’t already). You can now import STEP files of your components and accessories right into Protocase Designer so that you can design around them. Our team has worked hard to make this feature smoothly import your components and boards, so you likely won’t need to do any prep work to your files ahead of time.

Protocase Designer 5.0

But, in some cases, you may want to streamline your STEP file before it is imported.

Many models for components, such motherboards for example, have a high level of detail. For the purposes of your design intent in viewing these components in Protocase Designer, this high level of detail is not necessary.

Using your preferred CAD software, you can perform a few easy steps on your component file before you import them into Protocase Designer. Simplifying your component file will decrease the amount of time it will take Protocase Designer to import your file and allow Protocase Designer to run smoothly as you create your design. Furthermore, removing the unnecessary features will avoid unneeded complexity when adding cutouts and other design details.

In our Protocase Designer team’s testing, we’ve determined that STEP Files should be ideally 3MB or smaller, in order to be imported properly. You may well be able to import a STEP larger than this, however.

This blog post will explain how to prep your STEP file before it is imported into Protocase Designer, and provide a few key examples.

Remove Unnecessary Details

In order to simplify your STEP file, you should remove any small detailed components that are non-essential to your design. Features such as capacitors, resistors, and CPU slots greatly increase the size of your component file, which will in turn increase the loading time when you’re importing into Protocase Designer.

Here is an example of a very detailed board, some of which may not be needed at any stage of the design process:

Detailed Board

And here is that same board, however with much of the detail removed in order to streamline the design to only what will be required for me to view and design around in Protocase Designer:

Simplified Board

But Don’t Remove Everything!

You’ll want to pare down the component’s design file so that it’s streamlined, however, do not remove everything, as there are key features of the component that you’ll want imported into Protocase Designer. This way, you will be able to properly design around the component’s main features and ensure it will be mounted properly. This is especially important for items that may impact the mounting of the components, or features that will influence the size of the enclosure itself.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Ensure that you have ample height to allow the components to fit into the enclosure.
  • Make sure that your standoffs are long enough in order to ensure that nothing under the component will interfere when the component is mounted.
  • Consider leaving features on the component file that could interfere with standoffs and mounting screws, as those could impact your design decisions once you’re creating your design in Protocase Designer.

For instance, here is an example of a component close to a mounting hole:


Component with Mounting Hole

If you were to decide to mount this board with these capacitors facing downwards, you would want to leave these in the STEP file since they could impact things such as which standoffs you may choose (wide base standoffs vs. standard style, as an example). By not removing them from your STEP file, you will be better able to verify that there will be no interference in your standoffs.

Here is an example of a component or feature that although unimportant to your design, could influence things such as the height of the enclosure itself, or the length of standoffs needed to mount the board safely:

Board with Features



Importing a STEP File into Protocase Designer will allow you to create designs around your components and accessories. If you encounter long load times when you try to import your STEP for the first time in Protocase Designer, you should follow the tips outlined in this blog post to simplify your STEP file.

Then, you can focus on creating a design that fits all of your components and suits your application!

If you run into issues, the Protocase team is always here to help. Email, check out the Protocase Designer Wiki or post your comments/questions to the Protocase Designer forum.


About The Author

Christa Carey

Christa Carey has been with Protocase since the very beginning. In fact, she was the first employee the company hired back in 2002, after working for the Protocase co-founders in a previous job. She graduated in 2000 from Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia, Canada. As the CNC Engineering and Design Services Technical Services Manager, Christa manages a team of engineers and technologists in the CNC Machining Division.

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