Last year, I wrote about all the new enhancements that came with SOLIDWORKS Electrical 2016, and with the recent release of SW2017, SOLIDWORKS delivered for Electrical again. I wanted to use this blog to bring attention to my favorite updates to Electrical for 2017, but to also note that a majority of the key enhancements and fixes that went into this new release came from CADimensions customer’s requests. In 2017, the Electrical Ecosystem saw an addition of a new product in SW PCB, as well as a focus in improving the functionality, interface, and reporting.
One customer request that made it into Electrical 2017 is the ability to propagate data to objects. Typically, wire styles have formulas to generate their marks, so this gives us the ability to keep generic marks, while propagating complex marks that don’t fit the formula. This function can be found in the Process tab, and gives the user the ability copy values from Wire, Equipotential, Terminal and PLC data and paste them into object data fields. In the example below, I’m able to convert my PLC terminal names to my wire equipotential marks.
My other favorite feature is the addition of the Super Part tool (also a customer request!). We all know a connector is never just a connector; it is a backshell, adapter, strain relief, ground rings, contact pins, and then finally the connector body. In the past, we would place our connector symbol, add the base, accessory, and auxiliary manufacturer parts to the component, and then make a macro of that connector so we could reuse it again in the future. Super Parts, allow us to skip the macro step and have a library manufacturer part assembly that we can select upon placing our symbol. With a Super Part created, it’s a simple filtered search that will yield us a group of manufacture parts with a single click.
We kept the same look and feel from 2016, but we do have access to some new buttons and helpful side panels. My favorite button isn’t necessarily new, but it went underwent a name change and some added some new functionality. The “Create SOLIDWORKS Cabinet” function has been changed to “Create SOLIDWORKS Assembly,” which makes me happy, since our electrical designs are not always going to be panel based. This option also gives us the ability to “Select Existing Files,” meaning we can now reference previously created or working assemblies as part of our Electrical projects.
The addition of the Properties Panel came in the 2016 release. This gave us some upfront information about what we click in the interface (wire styles, sheet properties, etc.) New for 2017 is the ability to see Graphical Properties inside of that Properties Panel.. We can now edit layers, line styles, text, alignment, and positions direct from the interface. Before we’d need to dig into the Modify tab, find the Properties pop out, and navigate between two windows.
We can now navigate to linked line item entities inside Reports and Design Rule Checks. Contextual menus create links that will pop up the properties of documents, components, symbols, cables, equipotential, wires, and manufacturer parts. This helps speed up design verification and validation, to ensure the proper parts are being used or wire styles are following the correct formulas.
In a multi-user environment, we sometimes have many hands in a project, and we want to make sure that all data is accurate and consistent before going out the door. This responsibility usually falls on the last person in the project. Fortunately, an option in the Project Configurations menu to “Update generated drawings” will prompt that user to automatically update data in reports and terminal strip drawings before printing or archiving. This will hopefully provide the proper warning to ensure all data is up to date before releasing.
Other Items Worth Mention
A few other enhancements that have me excited for 2017 are listed below. However, the complete list can be found in the 2017 What’s New document at this link.
- Copy and Pasting with Anchor Points – Ctrl + Shift + ‘C’ adds the point selection option (Customer request!)
- Associating Data File Shortcuts to a Project – Live links versus embedded documents.
- Changing Attribute Visibility – Hide, Show Attributes, Show Sample Values, Show Attribute Descriptions
- Show Connection Dots – Project Level settings for Always, Never, or When Connected.
- Generating reports specific to each Project book (Customer request!)
As always, feel free to ask questions or share with us your favorite enhancements in the comments section below. You can also reach out if you have any questions or concerns about upgrading to 2017 SOLIDWORKS Electrical. Note: It is highly recommended to archive an environment and test a project before upgrading to 2017.