SolidWorks has a wealth of tools for designing machines and control systems, but how do we make them go?
As a mechanical engineer I always felt a them and us relationship existed between the 'clankies' and the 'sparkies'. We design an amazing system, but do not take into account where all the cabling is going to go. In addition you go to the shop floor and there always seems to be a huge amount of cabling left over at the end of every job.
How can we design better? This is where SolidWorks Premium comes to our aid with SolidWorks Routing. SolidWorks Routing allows us as designers to quickly and easily lay out the cabling, tubing and piping in our designs. A future post will take a look at the pipe work and tubing, but here we'll focus on the electrical tool set.
SolidWorks Electrical Routing allows us to place all our cabling into our systems:
This includes ribbon cables which can be folded as below, or flexible to follow a more complex route.
Alternatively you may need to use standard 'off the shelf' cables. The image below shows a standard 300mm long CAT5 cable. All that's required is to place the connectors and SolidWorks will then do the rest ensuring that the drawn cable is exactly the correct length.
Or you may well need something far more complex. Here we see a cable loom that connects to a number of different ports on a few key components within this control panel.
SolidWorks Routing has given me the tools to place the components and link them through the various clips to generate a finished model. Then the question arises as to how we get this made. Here again SolidWorks Routing has the answer. From a complex three dimensional route we can generate a simplified flattened harness board layout.
This is a 1:1 drawing of the cable run. We have dimensions marked on it giving the length of each segment, but also you can see a large number of tables as well. These tables are inserted automatically. Let's see what they are.
The first is the Circuit summary. It lists the wire type, ID, Colour, length and what component it goes from and to:
Each end connector also has a table beside it listing the wire ID and which pin it connects to:
Finally we see the bill of materials for this route. Besides listing the components it also lists the total length of cable/wire required to finish the job.
Another side of electrical routing that we haven't shown is electrical conduit. We can place our rigid/flexible trunking in the systems. This also gives all the same great level of detail listing the lengths and junction boxes required to get the job done.
SolidWorks Electrical Routing gives us the tools to ensure that we only order what is required for any particular job. We can give the electricians accurate and precise measurements for them to work to. We can make sure that we leave suitable clearance for the cabling. Saving money on material, time on ensuring cables are the right length, and pain by ensuring that all members of the team can get the project finished.