Top 10 Tips – SOLIDWORKS Routing: Piping & Tubing

Top 10 Tips - SOLIDWORKS Routing: Piping & Tubing

The Piping & Tubing routing functionality in SOLIDWORKS utilizes a wide range of tools & features to accelerate the development process of routing piping/tubing/harness/electrical cable design and documentation.
SOLIDWORKS Routing offers time-saving advantages such as:

  • The easy ‘drag-and-drop placement’ can intuitively snap route components into your model hassle-free• Auto-routing of pipes and tubing can quickly link flanges effectively
  • A vast library filled with pre-made industry standard routing components ready to use on-demand
  • Automatic creation of engineering drawings and bill of materials with complete data including properties and cut lengths of routes

I’ve created a compilation of the Top 10 tips and tricks to further save time and help you design efficiently using SOLIDWORKS Routing:

10. Using Route bounding box

Routing arrangements can get very complex very quickly with many routes getting bundled up in systems such as piping skids and vessel frames. By utilising the isolate feature, you can pin-point specific routes allowing you to focus on a particular route component, without the interference of the full assembly. However, isolate will only visualise the route itself, if you want to isolate the relative components attached – it is necessary to use the ‘Route bounding box’ option

09. Applying penetration points

Upon adding a pipe penetration – the routing software creates a cut extrude feature and sets ‘Offset from Surface’ as the End Condition. This handy feature can be created by right-clicking the intersecting point and then selecting the ‘Penetrate’ option in the routing settings. In addition, you can also replace a pipe penetration with a fitting by dragging and dropping a fitting at the penetration point, which adds a split point in the route segment and aligns the fitting with the route segment.

08. Effective Rotation

When dropping a routing component, there are times the component can be incorrectly orientated and can be resolved by holding the shift key + right/left arrow keys which will rotate the component on its rotation axis line. If you drop your component and the orientation is still not correct, it can still be modified using the move with triad option (right-click > move with triad). Additionally, the triad origin point can be re-oriented by holding the Alt key which will align it with the origin of selected component.

07. Follow-up with the design table

Once a custom route component is created, it can be time-consuming to add configuration modifications, especially if there is a large number of dimensions requiring changes. Using a design table enables easy adjustment of dimensions through an excel spreadsheet, in addition pre-made excel design tables can be imported in a matter of seconds.

06. Utilising the ‘Route along’ relation

Routing offers the same advantages as manipulating relations similar to that of 3D sketches, which provides greater flexibility. Additionally, a unique relation called ‘Route along’ is enabled during the route editing process which provides a higher degree of accuracy since it dimensions around its surrounding environment; adding both distance and orientation dimensions.

05. Save time with a Route template

It can be very cumbersome and time-consuming to manually modify your pipe and elbow settings each time a route is started.  By creating your own route specification template, the settings only need to be adjusted once, therefore each time a route is started it is automatically adjust for you. Moreover, you can create route templates within the routing library manager under ‘route properties’ and ‘add new’.

04. Adjust Routing transparency

Toggling the routing transparency can be found within ‘Tools > Options > Display/Selection > Assembly transparency for in context edit’. During the routing process – by default the model will go into the ‘Maintain assembly transparent’ effect which can difficult to accurately position the routing components. By switching the setting to ‘Opaque assembly’, the assembly features are clearly visible and positioning routing components is more effective.

03. Recycle Route components

By far the easiest way to create Route components is to re-use existing components and make them your own. By essentially copying a routing component from the default SOLIDWORKS library, or downloading from the SOLIDWORKS 3D Content Central database, you do not need to build from scratch but only make the necessary changes tailored to your own specifications. Moreover, since routing components are premade you do not need to re-create the C-points or R-points (only adjusting is required).

02. Take advantage of SketchXpert

Routes are fundamentally based on 3D sketches therefore any error checking sketch tools within    SOLIDWORKS also apply to routes. Any errors found in a route can be quickly analysed by    SketchXpert by accessing it from ‘Tools > Sketch tools > SketchXpert’ or found at in the status bar    at the bottom of the viewport


SketchXpert offers two options:

  • ‘Diagnose’ automatically finds valid solutions to the sketch and eliminates errors in which you can select from a choice of scenarios that SOLIDWORKS generates
  • Alternatively, you can choose to manually repair the sketch for more flexibility in your sketch

01. Use Split Route

It is a common mistake to create routes without splitting when you’re in a hurry.

Without a split route it is difficult for tee components to snap effectively. By applying the ‘Split Route’ tool it allows the 3D sketch to separate into different routes and enables the tee to snap into the correct place.

Whether you’re new to SOLIDWORKS or a seasoned Routing user, I hope you’ve found these top 10 tips useful.

Andrew Tsim is an Applications Engineer at TMS CADCentre, a SOLIDWORKS Value Added Reseller in Scotland.  You can read more from Andrew on the TMS CADCentre blog
TMS CADCentre - is a SOLIDWORKS Reseller based in Scotland providing 3D CAD Design Software, analysis software & product data management software. The company was formed in 1981 and now pleased to be celebrating 37 years in business. TMS CADCentre is the only UK SOLIDWORKS Reseller based and funded within Scotland and have been providing SOLIDWORKS software, training and support since 1996 when the product was first launched in the UK.