One of the advantages of using a schematic tool that integrates into your mechanical design like SOLIDWORKS Electrical (SWE) is that you can visualize your electrical design in a 3D space. This allows for your schematic symbols and lines to translate into components and wires. While the software comes with some predefined components for your use, the typical process may entail manufacturer part creation to fit your design.
Here are 5 steps to allow you to translate a 2D connector symbol into a 3D design using the SWE Dynamic Connector Tool:
1) Download/Build 3D Part
The first step of the process is to either build a part in SOLIDWORKS or use an online site to download a pre-existing part. The 3D part is what will be inserted into your SOLIDWORKS assembly and be given connection points for routing. The Electrical Content Portal grants you access to www.tracepartsonline.net with SWE specific downloads. These means the selected part will be downloaded with the model, as well as the manufacturer part information and 2D model drawings, which automatically goes into the Electrical SQL Database when unzipped.
For this blog post, I created a more simple, yet similar, part in SOLIDWORKS and used it in step 3.
2) Create a Manufacturer Part in the Database
If the part was downloaded from the SWE Portal, then the work for this step is already done. As you can see below, the unarchived download from Trace Parts automatically adds symbols, parts, and manufacturer part data.
However, if we were building this part from scratch, we would need to add a new manufacturer part to our catalog to reference when we are ready to use the connector tool.
Using the tabs and buttons identified below (Library->Manufacturer Parts Manager->Add Manufacturer Part) we can fill out the properties of our new part. I like to add created items to my USER library, just so I can easily find and reference them.
An important piece of information to add to our manufacturer part properties is under the Circuits, terminals tab. The circuits in a device correspond to what one could call a device’s “poles”. These circuits are used in the definition of a symbol, and also in the definition of a manufacturer part.
The terminals are then associated to circuit to call out the specific device marks (input/output, +/-, etc.). For our example, we will create a connector with 4 circuits, but 8 terminals. Using the drop down menu for the type allows us to further define our connector, as a male power connector, inside our schematic. We now have a part that we can build a 3D connector for.
3) Use Component Wizard to Define Part Electrically
We will now jump into SOLIDWORKS and apply the terminal information we created in SWE to a new 3D connector part. For this example I quickly created an 8 pin connector with some basic shapes. I then added 8 sketch points to the location where the wires will route to the connector part. Once happy with the look of the connector, we can use the Electrical Component Wizard to Create Connection Points by Reference.
The wizard will launch a window in our side panel. From here we can Select a Manufacturer Part from SWE, via the Manufacturer Part Selection window. Using the filters we gave our manufacturer part in the previous step, it was simple to find the Blog Component, manufactured by CADimensions. Once the part is selected, it will ask me to associate each circuit and terminal to a sketch point in my 3D part. The number scheme is important to routing, so we need to be sure that the terminals are applied to the correct circuit locations on the part. This will conclude the work that we need to do inside of SOLIDWORKS, until we are ready to route.
4) Create Schematic Connections
The final stage of using the dynamic connector tool is to create a schematic symbol and diagram back in SWE. From the Schematic->Insert Connector command, we will be prompted to choose a connector, we will use the one we created for this example. We will apply a Mark Number and desired symbol for the schematic.
Then we will use the command window on the left side of the screen to select the type of configuration we would like to use (with pin symbols, without pin symbol, only pin symbols, or any custom built configuration). We then select the circuits we would like to place inside the symbol for a schematic and add a Mnemonic description for the terminals.
The check boxes allow us to custom define our connectors for a schematic, which comes in handy if we have a multi-pin connector that may span across sheets.
We can then quickly connect wires between two connectors to create a cable. X2 shows our dynamic connector tool using the Connector Without Pin Symbol configuration and without Mnemonics added.
5) Route in 3D
Finally, we can place our connector parts inside our modeling space. The previous scheme, translated into SOLIDWORKS, yields the following collection of wires from Connector X1 to Connector X2.
We can take this one step further and add a cable connection point to our 3D part and a cable to our SWE project to yield a fully defined cable to be used in our 3D design. The cable selected had pre-defined color codes that were applied to the wires in SOLIDWORKS automatically.
These were the complete steps to create a cable in SOLIDWORKS using the Dynamic Connector Tool in SOLIDWORKS Electrical. If you have any questions or would like to see a demonstration of the steps, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll reach out to you. Happy Cabling!