When it comes to routing wires, we have two options at our disposal. We can manually route each wire with standard routing tools or we can utilize the SOLIDWORKS Electrical routing tools. Ultimately, we have to weigh our options. Manually routing wires is time consuming, but it will be precise. While automatically routing wires will be quicker, the final route may require some necessary adjustments.
As if wires aren’t complicated enough, let’s add another level of complexity to our route… with harnesses. Harnesses can become a daunting task. Trying to automatically route a harness with all those wires, cables, connectors, and yes… splices. What if there was a way to combine the speed of the automatic process, with the detail we need from the manual method? In comes, (what I like to call) hybrid routing. First and foremost we need our harness to be designed in SOLIDWORKS Electrical. We also need our assembly to be ready for the route – which means our parts need to be “electrically intelligent” by having connection points built into them, as well as associating those parts to our harness. It is recommended to build a route path (EW_PATH), but it’s not necessary.
Pretty straightforward so far right? Nothing different from previous capabilities at least…
Here’s the difference.
In the Route harnesses function, we need to uncheck the Route following path option and run the command. We receive a notification about the routing path, but for this hybrid method, we will Create connection only. Upon completion, we notice that the harness is now in our feature tree. Let’s go ahead and edit the harness route.
One of the first things we will do is turn on our guidelines. Turning the guidelines allows us to see what was actually routed in the previous step.
Here comes the fun part, which may also take a little pre-planning. What we mean by pre-planning is that we should determine which guidelines make up our longest run, because all of the other wires will eventually connect to the main “trunk line.”
Once we’ve determined the main wires, we will take advantage of the Auto Route functionality. Let’s select the Guidelines option for the routing mode, and Merge guidelines to form routes. Select the desired guidelines and run the command. We will begin to see our route coming together. At this point we would want to drag or edit the main trunk line to its desired position within the assembly. If we created a route path (EW_PATH) we can use that as a guide when manipulating the harness.
Before we can add the remaining wires, we need to add split points. Each remaining wire needs at least one split, or in some cases, one point for each end of the wire. Each point can be used for multiple wires. You can also use the end points that have already been created when merging the guidelines.
With our main line and split points put in place, again we will utilize the Auto Route command, but instead of merging, we will Join guidelines to existing routes. This can be extremely useful when dealing with splices. Yes, you saw that correctly. I said splices. As long as you have split points in place, it will join the wires from splices (or in-line components) as well.
You also have the option to simply convert a guideline to a route. This option will simply create a wire in in place of the guideline which can help speed the process up as well.
Once we are satisfied with our newly created harness, we have the ability to update the wire length and push the necessary information back into SOLIDWORKS Electrical for our reports.
This hybrid method of routing can be a valuable tool in order to help customers visualize your design, as well as communicate your design intent to the rest of your team or partners.