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Is your via impedance calculator accurate?
Blog
Why Most Via Impedance Calculators Are Inaccurate

The problem with every via impedance calculator that I have seen is simple: they are incomplete or totally wrong. The “incomplete” part refers to a lack of context; these calculators can roughly reproduce a well-known estimate from a legend like Howard Johnson in his Digital Design textbooks. However, these calculators never provide insight into what they are actually calculating, or where the calculated via impedance is accurate. Keep reading to see why these calculators get it so wrong, as well as the context surrounding via impedance.

Embedded thumbnail for How to Create an Interactive PDF of a Schematic Diagram
How-To's
How to Create an Interactive PDF of a Schematic Diagram

This video shows how to create an interactive PDF using the Smart PDF Wizard.

Embedded thumbnail for What is the Draftsman Document?
How to Work with Draftsman
What is the Draftsman Document?

Once your PCB layout is finished it’s time for review. This is where the Draftsman Document and Altium Designer’s Draftsman Editor comes in.

Blog
Buck Converter Simulation in Altium Designer

When designing high power circuits (usually very high voltage and/or current), you’ll need to create a regulator from scratch and place it in your PCB layout. It's also the case that you may want to model a real component using discretes in a simulation in order to qualify the system's expected operating regime. As part of buck converter design, you can easily run a buck converter simulation directly in Altium Designer’s schematic editor. Here’s how you can access these features in the newest version of Altium Designer. 

Embedded thumbnail for Adding Project Modules to a Multi-board Schematic
How to work with Multiboard
Adding Project Modules to a Multi-board Schematic

If you’re using multiple PCBs in your Multi-board design, Altium Designer allows you to add existing projects directly to your schematic with modules. We’ll show you how to quickly and efficiently add these projects to your Multi-board design.

PCIe 6.0 Overview
Blog
Overview of the PCIe 6.0 Standard

Just as you get used to PCIe 5.0, they decide to release another standard! The newest iteration of PCIe is Gen6, or PCIe 6.0. PCIe 6.0 brings a doubling of channel bandwidth through introduction of PAM-4 as the signaling method in high-speed differential channels. This signaling method is a first for PCIe, and it’s an important enabler of the doubled data rate we see in the current standard. In this article, I’ll run over the important points in the standard and what PCB designers can expect when designing these channels.

Embedded thumbnail for Checking for Creepage in High Voltage Designs
How-To's
Checking for Creepage in High Voltage Designs

High voltage devices have leakage currents that propage over the surface of the board. In such devices, it's important to consider not only the standard gap between the two topological elements, but also the shortest possible path between them, taking into account cut-outs and holes. With Altium Designer 20, you can check for creepage using the new creepage distance rule.

Embedded thumbnail for Creating BGA Footprints with the Footprint Wizard
How to create a PCB Footprint
Creating BGA Footprints with the Footprint Wizard

Altium Designer makes it easy to create a BGA footprint using our IPC compliant footprint wizard. We'll show you how easily you can create and modify a BGA footprint using the footprint wizard.

SPI vs. I2C For Memory Access
Blog
SPI vs. I2C: How to Choose the Best Protocol for Your Memory Chips

One of the common implementations of SPI and I2C in a PCB layout is as a protocol for reading and writing to an external Flash memory. Flash chips are a very common component in embedded systems and can offer high capacities of non-volatile memory up to Gb values. When choosing a memory chip, you'll want to match the application requirements and functionality with the bus speed you need for read and write operations in your memory chip. There is also the matter of the type of Flash memory you'll need to access (NOR vs. NAND).

On-Demand Webinar
Tips & Tricks: Board Shape Creation

Being able to design a board in your ECAD environment doesn’t mean that it is manufacturable in real life. You have to make sure your CAD representation won’t have any problems in the real world by taking some precautions. For example, there are certain areas that need to be free of components and have specified clearances like your board edge. This webinar will help you get acquainted with the creation and modification of your board shape so that you can ensure manufacturability.

Blog
Is There an SPI Trace Impedance Requirement?

There is no SPI trace impedance requirement? The reality is that SPI lines only start to need impedance control when the length of the interconnect becomes very long. And because there is no specific impedance requirement in the bus, you have some freedom in channel design and termination. So what exactly qualifies as “very long” and when is some termination method needed? We’ll break it down in this article.

Embedded thumbnail for How to Remove Unused Pad Shapes
How-To's
How to Remove Unused Pad Shapes

Unused pad shapes can cause distortion among other problems so it is best to exclude them from your designs. This video shows how to remove unused pad shapes.

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How to work with Layer Stack Manager
Stackup Presets and Templates

In this video, we will learn how to apply predefined layer stacks to the board, as well as how to save the layer stack file as a template.

The Skin Effect and EM Fields
Blog
The Skin Effect, Current Density, and the Electromagnetic Field

During this year's AltiumLive CONNECT event, I recall receiving an interesting question about the skin effect and the distribution of current due to the presence of ground in coplanar transmission lines. In this article, we'll look at the electric field around a transmission line carrying a signal, and how this might be impacted by the skin effect.

Embedded thumbnail for Creating a PCB Footprint Assembly Drawing
How to create a PCB Footprint
Creating a PCB Footprint Assembly Drawing

If you need to create an assembly drawing of your PCB Footprint for your outjob files we can show you how in Altium Designer. We’ll walk through all the different options for your assembly drawing in your Draftsman document, how to create your assembly drawing and assign it designators.

Packaging for your PCBAs
Blog
What You Need for PCB Packaging and Shipping

When you get your PCBA back from an assembler, you’ll notice the packaging materials used to pack and ship the PCBA. Those materials are specific to electronics, and if you build products on behalf of clients, it’s important to know the packaging materials used for packing and shipping electronics. In this article I’ll show the main set of materials and equipment used to package electronics assemblies.

Embedded thumbnail for Using the ActiveBOM
How-To's
Using the ActiveBOM

Using the ActiveBOM: The Bill of Materials (BOM) contains a list of all the components with their designators, part numbers, values, and other parameters. An ActiveBOM manages the mapping from the design component (part) to the part that is purchased. This video describes how to use the ActiveBOM document to create an up-to-date list of components needed for your project.

Embedded thumbnail for Using Back Drills in your Stackup
How to work with Layer Stack Manager
Using Back Drills in your Stackup

In this video, we will learn about Back Drilling technology, how to set up back drilling using the layer stack manager, and how to set up the Stub Length sizes for back drilling by specifying applicable nets using the Design Rules Editor.

PCB Output files
Blog
How to Make PCB Gerber Files in Altium Designer Step-by-Step

Once you've got your PCB layout finished and you're ready to start preparing for manufacturing, one of the critical steps is to create PCB Gerber files. When you're ready to create your Gerber files, you need the right set of CAM processor tools that can take data from your PCB layout. In this article, we'll guide you through this process of how to make PCB Gerber files and show some example tasks you might need to perform to generate them.

Component composition
On-Demand Webinar
Help Ensure The Best Designs With Component Management

There are many aspects to designing a PCB. One of the larger aspects has to do with managing your components. We all need components for our designs, but are those components in our library and designs up-to-date or even purchasable? These questions need to be answered before we can safely use them. Altium Designer® has several tools to help you manage the components in your libraries and designs.

Tag
NEW
Skills for Today's PCB Designers
Blog
What Skills Are Needed to be a PCB Layout Designer?

To readers who have been working in the PCB industry for most of your career, you have probably seen a very diverse group of professionals with varied skill sets and backgrounds. Designers might get started as engineers or as technicians, and some designers learn how to create beautiful PCB layouts in university. No matter how you got into PCB design, there are some important skills to know that will take you a long way towards advancing your career.

How to Fix the Top PCB Design Mistakes
Blog
Beginner PCB Design Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

When starting out with PCB design, it’s common to treat the process as simply ‘connecting the dots’: as long as connections are made, it’s not particularly important how these connections are made. Having reviewed quite a number of PCBs of other PCB design engineers over the last few years, there are common, unfortunately erroneous, occurrences between a lot of them. This article aims to illustrate the top five beginner PCB design mistakes and what we can do to avoid making them. Let’s get started!

Top 5 Questions Regarding Stack Up
Blog
SAP (Semi-Additive PCB Process) – Top 5 Questions Regarding Stack Up

As the PCB design community embraces the benefits of this new printed circuit board fabrication technique, there are of course many questions to be answered.  Today’s blog will address some of the most commonly asked questions related to circuit layer stack up as people are introduced to this new technology.

Design Reuse Blocks Update
Blog
Altium Designer 22.9 Update

We are happy to announce that the Altium Designer 22.9 update is now available. Altium Designer 22.9 continues to focus on improving the user experience, as well as performance and stability of the software, based on feedback from our users. Check out the key new features in the What's New section on the left side of this window!

Dual Rail Voltage Supply
Blog
Dual Rail Voltage Supply

The highest performing operational amplifiers often need a split supply with positive and negative voltages connected to the op amps supply rails. In this project, we’re going to be building a positive/negative dual rail power supply for a differential oscilloscope probe I’m designing. I’m making the power supply a separate project, as a dual rail supply is quite useful to have, and I’m sure I’ll find multiple uses for it in the future.

Library Importer Interface
Blog
Library Importer Improvements (former Library Migrator)

Importing file-based libraries from your local computer or network drive to your Altium 365 workspace can be done using the Library Importer. Altium’s Library Migrator was renamed Library Importer—the feature’s name was changed to conform more closely to the tool’s purpose. Not only is its name new, but our team has also made several user experience improvements. We have updated the documentation to reflect this change.

Blog
How to Select Copper Foil for High-Frequency PCB Design

The PCB materials industry has spent significant amounts of time developing materials that provide lowest possible signal loss for products with RF applications. For high speed and high frequency designs, losses will limit signal propagation distance and distort signals, and it will create an impedance deviation that can be seen in TDR measurements. In this article, we'll look at the balance between copper foil losses and other types of losses in a PCB, as well as some strategies that are commonly used to overcome roughness.

Blog
Altium Designer 22.8 Update

We are happy to announce that the Altium Designer 22.8 update is now available. Altium Designer 22.8 continues to focus on improving the user experience, as well as performance and stability of the software, based on feedback from our users. Check out the key new features in the What's New section on the left side of this window!

What is Hybrid Beamforming?
Blog
What is Hybrid Beamforming?

In this article, we’ll look at beamforming implementation in an advanced method combining analog and digital techniques, known as hybrid beamforming. This method blends both digital and analog techniques to create multiple beams and thus reach multiple users with varying intensities. In the case of an RF imaging system or a radar system, hybrid beamforming in a MIMO technique also allows tracking of multiple targets with adjustable resolution.

Is your via impedance calculator accurate?
Blog
Why Most Via Impedance Calculators Are Inaccurate

The problem with every via impedance calculator that I have seen is simple: they are incomplete or totally wrong. The “incomplete” part refers to a lack of context; these calculators can roughly reproduce a well-known estimate from a legend like Howard Johnson in his Digital Design textbooks. However, these calculators never provide insight into what they are actually calculating, or where the calculated via impedance is accurate. Keep reading to see why these calculators get it so wrong, as well as the context surrounding via impedance.

Blog
Buck Converter Simulation in Altium Designer

When designing high power circuits (usually very high voltage and/or current), you’ll need to create a regulator from scratch and place it in your PCB layout. It's also the case that you may want to model a real component using discretes in a simulation in order to qualify the system's expected operating regime. As part of buck converter design, you can easily run a buck converter simulation directly in Altium Designer’s schematic editor. Here’s how you can access these features in the newest version of Altium Designer. 

PCIe 6.0 Overview
Blog
Overview of the PCIe 6.0 Standard

Just as you get used to PCIe 5.0, they decide to release another standard! The newest iteration of PCIe is Gen6, or PCIe 6.0. PCIe 6.0 brings a doubling of channel bandwidth through introduction of PAM-4 as the signaling method in high-speed differential channels. This signaling method is a first for PCIe, and it’s an important enabler of the doubled data rate we see in the current standard. In this article, I’ll run over the important points in the standard and what PCB designers can expect when designing these channels.

SPI vs. I2C For Memory Access
Blog
SPI vs. I2C: How to Choose the Best Protocol for Your Memory Chips

One of the common implementations of SPI and I2C in a PCB layout is as a protocol for reading and writing to an external Flash memory. Flash chips are a very common component in embedded systems and can offer high capacities of non-volatile memory up to Gb values. When choosing a memory chip, you'll want to match the application requirements and functionality with the bus speed you need for read and write operations in your memory chip. There is also the matter of the type of Flash memory you'll need to access (NOR vs. NAND).

Blog
Is There an SPI Trace Impedance Requirement?

There is no SPI trace impedance requirement? The reality is that SPI lines only start to need impedance control when the length of the interconnect becomes very long. And because there is no specific impedance requirement in the bus, you have some freedom in channel design and termination. So what exactly qualifies as “very long” and when is some termination method needed? We’ll break it down in this article.

The Skin Effect and EM Fields
Blog
The Skin Effect, Current Density, and the Electromagnetic Field

During this year's AltiumLive CONNECT event, I recall receiving an interesting question about the skin effect and the distribution of current due to the presence of ground in coplanar transmission lines. In this article, we'll look at the electric field around a transmission line carrying a signal, and how this might be impacted by the skin effect.

Packaging for your PCBAs
Blog
What You Need for PCB Packaging and Shipping

When you get your PCBA back from an assembler, you’ll notice the packaging materials used to pack and ship the PCBA. Those materials are specific to electronics, and if you build products on behalf of clients, it’s important to know the packaging materials used for packing and shipping electronics. In this article I’ll show the main set of materials and equipment used to package electronics assemblies.

Tag
Embedded thumbnail for Creating a PCB Footprint Assembly Drawing
How to create a PCB Footprint
Creating a PCB Footprint Assembly Drawing

If you need to create an assembly drawing of your PCB Footprint for your outjob files we can show you how in Altium Designer. We’ll walk through all the different options for your assembly drawing in your Draftsman document, how to create your assembly drawing and assign it designators.

Embedded thumbnail for Using the ActiveBOM
How-To's
Using the ActiveBOM

Using the ActiveBOM: The Bill of Materials (BOM) contains a list of all the components with their designators, part numbers, values, and other parameters. An ActiveBOM manages the mapping from the design component (part) to the part that is purchased. This video describes how to use the ActiveBOM document to create an up-to-date list of components needed for your project.

Embedded thumbnail for Using Back Drills in your Stackup
How to work with Layer Stack Manager
Using Back Drills in your Stackup

In this video, we will learn about Back Drilling technology, how to set up back drilling using the layer stack manager, and how to set up the Stub Length sizes for back drilling by specifying applicable nets using the Design Rules Editor.

Embedded thumbnail for How to Customize The Properties Panel
How-To's
How to Customize The Properties Panel

How to Customize The Properties Panel: This video will go over how to customize the look and feel of the properties panel in Altium Designer. By being able to personalize your workspace you can greatly improve your efficiency

Embedded thumbnail for How to Create and Use Impedance Profiles
How to work with Layer Stack Manager
How to Create and Use Impedance Profiles

Using the Altium Designer Layer Stack Manager, we will show how to create impedance profiles for transmission lines and how to apply them to the circuit board using the PCB Rules and Constraints Editor.

Embedded thumbnail for Creating a PCB Footprint Courtyard
How to create a PCB Footprint
Creating a PCB Footprint Courtyard

The courtyard is an essential piece when you want to create a PCB Footprint in Altium Designer. We’ll talk about what a courtyard is, how to create a courtyard, and how to format a courtyard correctly for your PCB footprint.

Embedded thumbnail for How to Edit Existing Tracks in Altium Designer
How-To's
How to Edit Existing Tracks in Altium Designer

This new design rule flags a violation when the creepage distance across non-conductive surface and edge regions of the board, between the targeted signals, is equal to or less than the specified Creepage distance.

Embedded thumbnail for Creating a PCB Footprint Silkscreen Overlay
How to create a PCB Footprint
Creating a PCB Footprint Silkscreen Overlay

When creating a PCB footprint in Altium Designer creating a silkscreen overlay is an important requirement. We’ll go over the standards for creating a silkscreen overlay for a footprint and the steps to creating one, such as constructing lines and measuring distance of objects and primitives.

Tuning
What's New in 22.7
Ability to Change Tuning Object Layer Properties

Design of high-speed PCBs becomes easier with this latest release. Now, when you need to quickly move tuning elements to a different layer, you can do so from the Properties panel with a single click.

Simulation models
What's New in 22.7
Auto-assign Simulation Models for Components without Models

This latest version of Altium Designer makes schematic simulation even easier. System intelligence automatically recognizes SPICE models and assigns them to components from available sources.

Paste
What's New in 22.7
Control of Paste Mask Output for Variants

Output data needs to be as accurate as possible. For multi-variant designs you can now ensure that the paste mask is only displayed where it is really needed.

Embedded thumbnail for Adding Designators for Assembly Drawings
How-To's
Adding Designators for Assembly Drawings

Designators for assembly drawings are added on the assembly layer. This video shows how to add the designators.

Embedded thumbnail for Stackup Material Library
How to work with Layer Stack Manager
Stackup Material Library

In this video we will learn more about the Altium designers Layer Stack Mangers built-in materials library, and how to add new material and use it in our board stack. We will also look at how we can save the user materials to an xml format.

Embedded thumbnail for Placing Footprint Pads
How to create a PCB Footprint
Placing Footprint Pads

Every footprints needs proper pad placement to ensure trace connectivity. Placing pads is the first step towards footprint creation.

Embedded thumbnail for Setting the Transparency for Layers and Primitives
How-To's
Setting the Transparency for Layers and Primitives

Customize your workspace by setting the transparency of layers and primitives in the PCB.

Embedded thumbnail for Create New Via Types Using the Layer Stack Manager
How to work with Layer Stack Manager
Create New Via Types Using the Layer Stack Manager

In this video, we will learn how to create new via types using the Layer Stack Manager, and how to create new Routing Via design rules using the PCB Rules and Constraints Editor. We will also explore how to use the different types of Via during interactive routing.

Tag
Part Search in Altium Designer
On-Demand Webinar
How to Overcome PCB Component Availability Problems

Supply shortages have become and continue to be a common problem, especially when it comes to the world of electronics. It's hard to get all the different components for our boards. Heck! It's even tough to get the board themselves too! When electronic components become obsolete or out of stock, design and production can suffer lengthy delays. With current supply chain delays and with an average of 15 end-of-life notices issued every day, obtaining the parts you need is a challenge.

Preparing your files for Fabrication Release
On-Demand Webinar
Preparing your files for Fabrication Release

When you’re done creating a new board, it’s time to send your design data to the manufacturer. Before releasing your designs, you’ll want to make sure that everything is ready and works as intended. In this informative video, we’ll review some of the must-have checks before sending your output data for fabrication.

Article preview
On-Demand Webinar
Efficient PCB Routing Using Gloss and Retrace Tools

The primary goal of your traces is to carry signals throughout your board without losses. To do this properly, you must familiarize yourself with the requirements for signals on the printed circuit board and how to optimize the topology of the board in terms of signal integrity. We will analyze the most popular routing cases applicable for using the Gloss and Retrace tools in Altium Designer to optimize your signal integrity.

Article preview
On-Demand Webinar
Length Matching in High Speed Buses

With ever increasing speeds in high-speed data systems comes a couple of PCB layout challenges. High-speed busses like DDR, VME, PCIe just to mention a few can all reach data transfer speeds that require strict timing with very tight tolerances, thereby leaving very little slack in the PCB layout. Watch this on-demand webinar to learn why it's imperative to match track lengths in high-speed data systems and differential signals. You’ll see how to properly define PCB length matching and time delay constraints, and how to effectively route high-speed signals in Altium Designer®.

Simple Simulation in Altium Designer
On-Demand Webinar
SPICE Simulation Made Simple

SPICE simulation saves you critical time in the prototyping phase. Understanding your simulation interface makes it simple to analyze how your circuits work in different scenarios. Altium Designer provides an intuitive, dedicated interface to support your simulation verification, setup, and analysis directly in your schematic environment. You also benefit from growing support for popular model formats, as well as generic models, simplifying circuit definition and simulation.

Altium Designer Signal Integrity
On-Demand Webinar
What is High-Speed Design?

The primary source of high-speed problems is not due to high clock frequency but rather the fast rise and fall times of component signals. With fast edge rates, reflections may occur at the receiver side, and when the board routing is dense, crosstalk may become a problem. During this webinar, you'll sharpen your knowledge and develop new skills that you can use to design High-Speed PCB's more efficiently and effectively.

Altium Designer Interface
On-Demand Webinar
What is High-Speed Design?

The primary source of high-speed problems is not due to high clock frequency but rather the fast rise and fall times of component signals. With fast edge rates, reflections may occur at the receiver side, and when the board routing is dense, crosstalk may become a problem. During this webinar, you'll sharpen your knowledge and develop new skills that you can use to design High-Speed PCB's more efficiently and effectively. 

Webinar slides
On-Demand Webinar
Designing PCBs 5x Faster Despite the Pandemic | Customer Success | Kinetic Vision

Kinetic Vision, a Cincinnati-based design, engineering, and development firm, is an innovator’s one-stop shop for transforming even the wildest ideas into real products. The company’s design approach keeps everything in-house, including industrial design, mechanical, and electrical design, as well as, engineering, hardware/software development, machine learning, and sometimes even short-run production. Watch this webinar to learn how Kinetic Vision uses the Altium 365 platform to enable a connected and frictionless PCB design experience, increasing their productivity 5 times even in the mid

Altium Designer interface
On-Demand Webinar
One-Stop Design Team Configuration

A heavy focus is usually put on managing your design data, but what about managing your design team? A mismanaged design team can lead to a disorganized and inaccurate design library and data. Watch this webinar to see how Altium 365 can help you to organize users into access restricted groups, manage design and designer access rights, avoid design conflicts when multiple members are working on the same design, and standardize your entire project using templates

SolidWorks interface
On-Demand Webinar
ECAD MCAD Capabilities For Today’s Most Demanding Designs

Working between the Electronic and Mechanical design domains brings unique challenges. ECAD and MCAD tools have different design objectives and have evolved down different paths, and so have the way they store and manage their design and project data. To successfully design these products, the designers must fluidly pass design changes back and forth between the ECAD and MCAD domains beyond outdated file exchanges.

Altium Designer Constraints Editor
On-Demand Webinar
Getting Started with Design Rules and Constraints

Getting started with design rules can sometimes be a difficult task, but it doesn’t have to be. Altium Designer has added a new design rules user interface along with a new way to define rules, while not compromising past methods. Now, rules and constraints have a design-centric view rather than a rules-centric view which allows for easier visualization and is less prone to error. Watch this video to learn how you can best utilize the improved Rules 2.0 design rule interface.

Altium Designer interface
On-Demand Webinar
ECAD-MCAD Collaboration for Improved Product Development

Working between the Electronic and Mechanical design domains brings unique challenges. ECAD and MCAD tools have different design objectives and have evolved down different paths, and so has the way they store and manage their design and project data. Watch this video to learn about seamless ECAD/MCAD Collaboration on the project, how to comments for other design teams and how to review, Approve or Reject design changes from your mechanical engineer.

Article preview
On-Demand Webinar
8 Reasons to Store Your Components in Altium 365

Working with local libraries seems like a simple solution, but we often don’t take into account the added time spent maintaining libraries and sharing them between team members. There is no good way to avoid duplicate efforts with component creation and no standardization to ensure consistent naming. Worst of all, there is no way to identify the latest component revision, and library files can be easily corrupted or misplaced. This webinar showcases the advantages of component storage in Аltium 365 to resolve the issues of local libraries and component management.

Webinar Preview
On-Demand Webinar
Group Editing Tools and Methods in Altium Designer Webinar

Do you ever have to edit a large group of objects on your design? Whether you are dealing with your schematic or PCB, this webinar will help you get acquainted with the main tools for group editing of objects in Altium Designer. You will also learn how to effectively apply group editing methods with filters and selection tools in different design scopes.

Share Designs and track changes easily
On-Demand Webinar
Using Version Control in Your PCB Project Webinar

Version control has been a staple of software development for decades, but hardware development can benefit just as much from a version control system (VCS). Traditionally, VCS has been managed locally tying you down to a workplace, but advances in cloud technology have removed that limitation. Learn how Altium 365 cloud technology enables working concurrently on designs with built-in version control and evaluate its advantages.

Complex Design Made Easy Preview
On-Demand Webinar
Altium Designer® 21: A Better Way To Design

The design process often requires repetitive work with tedious tasks. Altium Designer 21 represents a better way to design by revitalizing long-standing functionality and improving the user experience, as well as performance and stability, based on the feedback from our users. These improvements streamline existing design tasks and empower you to complete sophisticated rigid and rigid-flex designs with realistic 3D modeling.