Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »
MCADCafe e-Magazine: Dassault Systèmes Unveils New SolidWorks Electrical Applications
August 6th, 2012 by Jeff Rowe
Dassault Systèmes introduced new SolidWorks Electrical applications that include an innovative, system level 2D schematic design tool and a powerful 3D electrical modeling add-in to SolidWorks design application that are linked in real time.
“Today, companies in industrial equipment, engineering services, high-tech, medical devices, and consumer goods are developing products that include more electrical content. More than half of our SolidWorks customers require a solution that streamlines collaboration between mechanical and electrical systems engineers,” said Bertrand Sicot, CEO, SolidWorks, Dassault Systèmes. “The addition of SolidWorks Electrical to our product portfolio moves us into this underserved market with a robust solution that upholds the SolidWorks focus on ease-of-use and makes close collaboration between mechanical and electrical design groups a reality.”
When it comes to electrical system design, organizations frequently look for ways to improve the overall delivery performance of their departments. SolidWorks Electrical applications make it easy for engineers and designers to plan electrical systems and integrate those electrical aspects into the overall 3D mechanical models. These new applications pave the way for mechanical and electrical engineering teams to collaborate during product development, streamline the design phase, and reduce product delays, resulting in more consistent and standardized designs, lower costs, and faster time-to-market.
“The full integration with SolidWorks will make SolidWorks Electrical easy to learn and will allow both our mechanical and electrical departments to collaborate on electrical system and wiring design,” said Kyle Strong, project manager at Getman Corporation. “Our mining vehicles include complex electrical wiring and need to have consistent design — the decision to consider SolidWorks Electrical was easy. By integrating our electrical and mechanical design processes, we can better document electrical requirements and cable/wire paths, resulting in less rework, higher product quality, and faster time-to-market.”
SolidWorks Electrical provides new capabilities with the following three applications:
1. SolidWorks Electrical – a 2D schematic design tool for electrical system architecture and planning that:
2. SolidWorks Electrical 3D — an add-in to SolidWorks CAD application that connects SolidWorks Electrical 2D systems-level schematics to 3D models designed with SolidWorks. It includes:
3. SolidWorks Electrical Professional – includes the functionality of both SolidWorks Electrical and SolidWorks Electrical 3D in a single application for users working in both 2D and 3D areas of electrical development.
The SolidWorks Electrical applications are based on technology from Trace Software, a company with more than 20 years of experience in the electrical design market. As a current SolidWorks Gold Solution Partner, Trace’s elecworks™ products are integrated with SolidWorks, allowing engineers to stay within the familiar SolidWorks environment to optimize electromechanical designs.
The first release of SolidWorks Electrical will be available in North America, Europe, and the Middle East in August 2012, with other regions and countries to follow. For more information about SolidWorks Electrical, please visit: http://www.solidworks.com/electrical/
Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor
SolidWorks is the latest MCAD vendor to support the increasing need for simultaneous design of mechanical and electrical systems, also known as mechatronics. As I have said for several years, there was a time when mechanical systems and products were strictly mechanical, however, the majority of today’s products continue to become more capable, and more complex, involving the integration of mechanical, electrical, and software subsystems.
A more comprehensive way to view mechatronics is the systematic integration of mechanical, electrical, electronics, and embedded firmware (software) components. When all of the various components are combined the result is an electromechanical system. Maybe a better term is functional ecosystem. In this context, mechatronics is characterized by software and electronics controlling electromechanical systems. This description is widely seen in automotive engines and other automotive systems, as well as production machinery and medical equipment.
A continuing trend is that as mechatronics systems get more complex and as functionality demands increase, in many instances software and firmware are replacing or at least supplementing hardware. A benefit of this transition from hardware to the burgeoning emphasis on software is called “postponement,” that is, the ability to include or change major functionality features during the final stages of production via embedded software.
As mechatronic systems get more complex, the challenges associated with successfully designing and executing them also become more demanding due to the interoperability requirements between electrical CAD (ECAD) and mechanical CAD (MCAD) software.
Mechatronics systems present major design and production challenges because they bring together many different types of physical and digital parts, processes, and personnel to create a successful end product. Designing and producing a mechatronics system requires a well-orchestrated effort by a wide variety of job roles and functions – everything from industrial design to PCB layout to control logic design to production planning.
In the past, designing a machine containing both mechanical and electrical components was a difficult and time-consuming process that required skilled specialists. Today, mechatronics design tools are bringing the electrical and mechanical worlds together to make design easier, although still challenging. With 3D CAD, mechanical engineers can design machine parts and assemblies using a familiar interface with 3D visualization, while also simulating mechanism motion through mechanism dynamics.
One of SolidWorks’ main competitors has addressed the electrical side of the fence for a while with AutoCAD Electrical, a specialized version of AutoCAD software for electrical controls. It includes all the functionality of AutoCAD, plus a set of electrical CAD features, comprehensive symbol libraries, and tools for automating electrical design tasks. AutoCAD Electrical creates native AutoCAD DWG files that can be viewed and modified using AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT.
This announcement by SolidWorks is good news to users who are increasingly involved with designing electromechanical products. I’m especially keen on the integration of 2D schematic and 3D aspects of electrical design – allowing for schematic logic and physical layout – all from a single interface. Hopefully, this will lead to greater collaboration for organizations that have mechanical and electrical design groups or individuals. I’m pretty confident that this will happen and foster collaboration between the “wingnuts” (mechanical designers) and “sparkies” (electrical designers).
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