SOLIDWORKS Routing gives users the ability to systematically route tubing, piping and cables. Fortunately, these processes have been leveraged nicely within the new SOLIDWORKS Electrical package. While there are similarities, the two key differences in my opinion, between Routing and Electrical are the ability to leverage a schematic drawing to generate a to-from list, and the ability to create a cable harness.

Let’s take a look at the simple steps required to create one of these 3D harnesses and flattened harness drawing.

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Step 1.

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Create a single-line diagram inside SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematics. Make sure you have chosen appropriate cable connectors and your cables are fully defined using the Detailed Cabling manager window. For this example, we are creating 3 cables, with 6 connectors, that will be part of our harness.

Step 2.

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Add items to a new harness inside SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematics. In order to do this, you need to “Ctrl+Select” (hold down the control key and left-click) the items of your schematic that you would like to be in your harness. This includes connectors, like the USB and VGA connectors in this example. Once all items are selected, right-click on one of your cables and select “Add/remove from harness” from the pop-up menu. The command window in the side panel will give you the option to add or remove these items from a harness. We are building a harness, so we select “Add to harness” and accept. We then can create a new harness and assign our selected components to this new harness (H1 for this example). We can exit out of the command window once everything is assigned.

Step 3.

Route the harness in SOLIDWORKS. Once all our items are added to the harness, we can transition over to SOLIDWORKS, making sure that the SOLIDWORKS Electrical 3D add-in is turned on. After we place all our components and connectors, we are ready to bring our harness to life. From the Electrical tab in the Command Manager, select the Route Harnesses function.

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This will launch the Route harnesses command window in the side panel. Using the Harnesses selector button, we can select H1, which was created in our schematic. We can set our routing parameters to fit our model. For this example, a value of 50mm for distance between routing paths and 500mm for distance between C_point and first routing path will suffice. Once we hit the green check mark we let SOLIDWORKS do its magic.  The cables will find their shortest path from connector to connector, and even know when to bundle into a harness in areas where they share the same path.

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Here SOLIDWORKS is generating a harness based on the placement of the connectors on the Monitor, Computer, and Printer components.

Step 4.

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Flatten the harness to produce a manufacturing drawing. Once the harness route is complete, we can use the Flatten Route feature from the Electrical tab in SOLIDWORKS to isolate the harness assembly and flatten it out. We can even go one step further and produce a drawing that can be imported into our electrical project documentation. This automated drawing comes with cable lengths (based on the route of our 3D model), wire descriptions (including part number and color), as well as a bill of materials for all harness components (cable and connectors).

Hopefully this post has given you some insight into SOLIDWORKS Electrical and shows you how simple it is to create a complicated harness with a limited number of mouse clicks.


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