3D scans to AKU/BoardCad file conversion

One of my buddies wants to have a board built based on some scans of a favorite board using a 3D laser scanner he has at work (nextengine.com). The output is basically a cloud of points rather than the kind of output that Boardcad/AKU seems to require. Anyone have experience converting STL, OBJ, VRML, XYZ file formats to BRD? Any easy way to do it?

thanks! -mike

there's no easy way to convert a point cloud into a .brd file.  probably easier to create surfaces from the point cloud and export a .iges file.  I know of at least one place (KKL) that can accept .iges.

otherwise, you need to manually design the board in AKU/BoardCAD using the points as a reference.  creating control points along the outline, profile, and through sections that match the locations of the points in your scan.  it's extremely tedious but possible.



Send me the file (scan) and I can make it for you.

PM me if you are interested?


kind regards,


@surfding  Thanks for the offer, that’s rad.

Out of curiosity what process will you use to convert a .stl to .brd or .srf?  I have various software tools at my disposal (Solidworks Professional, Meshlab, Alias, etc.) and I’d be stoked to have this capability so I can do it more times in the future. I haven’t been able to figure out any way to get any mesh data to import into Aku Shaper or Boardcad.

We also have a Faro Arm, so I could do the type of import that BoardCad wants (a list of coordinate points formated in a .txt) but it seems like the next engine will be easier to use to scan the board.




I’ve added the possibility to use an STL-file as the scan input in BoardCAD. Basically the program does a “virtual scan” of the model in the stl-file and measures outline, bottom, deck, and cross sections at various places and fits a number of bezier curves to those points. The goal is not to get an exact copy of the board, but to get a fairly good approximation that can easily be modified in BoardCAD.

More pictures and information will be posted at: http://www.boardcad.com/viewtopic.php?t=1246


With any scan file or conversion you have to be skilled in CAD Design to repair the translation errors.

To do reverse engineering is another skill.

STL is one type.

CSV files are typical of a cloud point scan.

Software of any type is only a tool.

It still requires a degree of skill.


You will need the machine file to generate the G-Code.


Yes, this is especially true when trying to scan used boards. The computer can’t really tell the difference between a dent and a desired design feature. In fact, the function above doesn’t even try to fit the rail, it simply places a control point at the apex and leaves the fine tuning to the designer.

The scanned board should only be seen as a design aid. It is the starting point and not a final product.



Thanks,  I’ll be testing out this feature in the next couple of weeks (I’ve got a bit of a project backlog at the moment.).  It will be great to quickly get the volume and general curves so that more time can be spent dialing in the rails. 

No worries about g code export, we make hollow wood boards from 1-1 paper templates.  The rail detail is all done by hand, so scan detail there isn’t critical, but certainly helpful.  That being said full detail of the rail curve is no problem for the scanner.