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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has over 35 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design and engineering. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CG, CAD, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the design community. As editor of ShareCG, … 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:

  • Simplifies electrical design with a dynamic, context-sensitive user interface, providing the ability to quickly turn concepts into detailed designs
  • Identifies problems immediately with real-time error detection which prevents costly scrap and rework
  • Allows for easier and more accurate creation of schematics with a library of more than 500,000 standard electrical parts
  • Enables multiple people to work on the same project at the same time

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:

  • Real-time, bi-directional updates between 2D and 3D to synchronize electro-mechanical designs so that consistency is maintained throughout development
  • The integration of the 2D schematic with the 3D model to help standardize designs and unify BOMs to reduce mistakes and delays
  • Placement of the electrical system and cables/wires in the 3D model to enable planning of specific locations and paths for consistent product manufacturing

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).

 

The Week’s Top Stories

At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the news items that were the most viewed during last week.

 CIMdata Publishes PLM Trends Report

CIMdata, Inc. announced the release of the CIMdata 2012 PLM Industry Review and Trends Report, the first of five modules of the CIMdata PLM Market Analysis Report Series. The MAR Series provides detailed information and in-depth analysis on the worldwide PLM market during 2011. It contains analyses of major trends and issues, leading PLM providers, revenue analyses for geographical regions, industry sectors, and historical and projected data on market growth. The report provides CIMdata’s perspective on current trends in the PLM industry and how they may affect current suppliers and investments. It also includes a detailed appendix that documents the evolution of the PLM competitive landscape over the last decade. The CIMdata PLM Market Analysis Report Series is available as a five-module set or each module can be purchased separately. It is also available as part of the CIMdata PLM Community Gold Membership. Further details and pricing information about the report and Community Memberships are available at www.cimdata.com.

QUAN: Apple Products Could Revolutionize Robotics

As Quantum International Corp. (QUAN) works to capitalize on hot new trends in the booming robotics sector, the technology in your pocket could be poised to spark a billion-dollar explosion in demand for new robotics products. Apple iPads and iPhones, the same devices that have revolutionized personal computing and communications, could soon do the same for a wide variety of robots. With their combination of sensors, CPU, display and network connectivity, modern smartphones and tablets have all the makings of compact, powerful robotic “brains”. Apple itself could potentially be getting into the robotics industry soon. The talking voice assistant technology known as Siri is already built into its iPhone 4s and could one day prove to be a piece of a line of user-friendly robots.

Kayak Slalom Presents Olympic Engineering Challenge for Geomagic and Creaform

Olympic sport keeps pushing athletes to find new and nuanced ways to condition their bodies. The same is true with their equipment. Engineers continually look for new refinements that propel the competition to a new level. In search of more success, the Australian Olympic Kayak team decided to turn to 3D technology to develop a better “fitout” for kayakers in the canoe slalom. A fitout means building custom parts of foam and wood for the seat of the craft and a good fitout gives the competitors an especially crucial edge while they paddle through 18-25. Past methods of fitout have been laborious, mostly guesswork, and a lot of wasted material. By turning to 3D scanning with Creaform and 3D model creation with Geomagic, the team has found a way to accurately create parts custom-fit to each athlete’s unique body shape. Each athlete was scanned in position using a Creaform 3D scanner. This accurately creates 3D points of the body surface, which are translated into 3D CAD models using Geomagic. From this point, the 3D can be precisely used to design and manufacture exact forms for the kayak – and for each athlete – to allow control of the kayak from start to finish.

Autodesk Inventor Fusion for Mac Debuts on the Mac App Store

Autodesk announced that Autodesk Inventor Fusion technology for 3D CAD modeling is now available for download in the Mac App Store. Autodesk Inventor Fusion lets designers explore complex shapes and forms, enabling rapid design changes with fewer limitations. Its 3D direct manipulation tools allow users to open and edit 3D models from almost any source and incorporate them into new or existing designs. Autodesk Inventor Fusion’s key features include:

  • 2D Sketching
  • Direct Modeling
  • Assembly design
  • Real-Time Visualization
  • Cloud Storage.

Jeffrey Rowe is the editor of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at jeff@ibsystems.com or 719.221.1867.

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Dassault Systèmes Unveils New SolidWorks Electrical Applications

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