Adjusting to a new design software can be a daunting task even for seasoned electrical designers and engineers. For myself, coming from a mechanical engineering background, even visualizing schematics in a 2D space took some getting used to. What worked for me when first getting started with SOLIDWORKS Electrical was to simply get my hands dirty and do some design work. Here is my SOLIDWORKS Electrical Getting Started Guide from starting a new project to generating schematics and creating reports:
Starting a New Project
The first step in our electrical design is to create a new project. Projects can be created and managed from the Projects Manager under the File tab.
Select New and choose one of the default design templates according to your company standards. Follow the wizard and input project specific information such as job number, customer, and company details. If this is your first project, it would be recommended to create a project template to automate future design projects. Any project can be saved as a design template for re-use from the Projects Manager.
Common project template configurations include: book and folder structure, wire styles, reports, locations, PLCs, numbering formulas and title blocks. Utilizing project templates ensures design consistency and eliminates having to repeat routine design tasks. For more information read our configuring project templates blog article.
After our project is generated, it is time to create a book and folder structure. If we have already set up a project template, then this work is already done for us! If not, we can create this on our own.
Books are often used to separate electrical and mechanical drawings or for different areas of the shop floor. Folders can be used to house different document types. What is the difference between books and folders you ask? It comes down to how report documents generated. Report documents (bill of materials, wire lists, drawing lists, etc) can be generated on a per book basis.
1. Placing Symbols
Once our file structure is complete it’s time to create a schematic and insert some symbols. Schematics can be created by right clicking a book or folder or from the Project tab. With a schematic open, symbols can be placed from either the Schematic tab or the Symbols dock. With a symbol chosen simply left click to place the symbol.
Manufacturer parts can be assigned during symbol insertion by selecting the second tab and searching for the corresponding part or even added after symbol insertion. Upon part association and inserting the symbol, manufacturer part attributes such as reference, manufacturer part and various specifications will appear beside the symbol. Continue this process for the remaining symbols on the page. Note, standard windows shortcuts such as copy-paste apply in SOLIDWORKS Electrical and the software is intelligent enough to continue mark and formula schemes in accordance.
2. Drawing Wires
Once symbols have been placed it is time to connect all the symbols together. Wires can be drawn from the Schematic tab. Select the desired wire style and left click to start and stop wire drawing, hit escape to exit the command. A useful tip to note, when drawing wires, is that you can draw past the symbol and the wires will automatically be cut at the connection points, providing reassurance you haven’t missed any pins.
Repeat this symbol insertion, manufacturer part association and wire drawing process for the rest of your design. Wires can be linked across pages using the origin destination arrows found under the Process tab. Cables can be associated to wires by highlighting the necessary wires and selecting Associate cable cores. Terminal blocks can be inserted from the Schematic tab.
3. Numbering Wires
Once the designs have been created it is now time to complete our documentation. Numbering of the wires can be done via the Process tab.
If documents have been moved around in the document tree they can be renumbered from the “Renumber documents” button. Numbering formulas for wires, cables and components can all be configured from the Project tab under “Configurations”.
Congratulations, you’ve just completed your first schematic drawing in SOLIDWORKS Electrical!
Schematics and line diagrams are not the only documents we need in a project. We may need spreadsheets, manufacturer datasheets, or mechanical drawings included in our prints. SOLIDWORKS Electrical allows external files to be embedded in the project itself. Simply right click either a book or folder in the desired location, select New > Data files… navigate to the file and select Ok. The file will now be embedded in the project archive.
With all drawings complete it’s time to generate reports. No need to manually audit any drawings, the software has been keeping a running tab of all parts, wires, and cables throughout the design process. Reports can be added and configured from the Project tab according to bill of materials, wire lists, drawings list and component tags to name a few. Once reports have been configured as necessary simply select Generate drawings and these reports will be added to the project.
Now that our project is complete we can export to print via the Import/Export tab, or even take our project one step further and incorporate SOLIDWORKS 3D. Watch the video below for more ways SOLIDWORKS is revolutionising electrical design.
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