SOLIDWORKS Premium – Electrical Routing

Article by Sawyer Gara updated April 22, 2024

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One of many reasons someone would upgrade to SOLIDWORKS Premium is to gain access to the best-in-class routing functionalities that are included with that package. Oftentimes, engineers will try to get by using simple sweeps to represent their Electrical Cabling and do their best to route them along their designs with 3D Sketches. Ultimately, this will get the job done but takes a long time and leaves a lot of great functionality on the table when working in Electro-Mechanical Assemblies.

What is SOLIDWORKS Electrical Routing?

SOLIDWORKS Electrical Routing is an Add-In for SOLIDWORKS that allows us to create special types of sub-assemblies tailored specifically for 3D electrical routes. These types of routes include 3 basic ingredients: Routing Components, Parts, and Features. The routing components are arguably the most important; encompassing the fittings, connectors, and clips used for our electro-mechanical assemblies. These components are typically stored in a single library and have the relevant electrical information embedded in them such as the route connection points.

The routing parts represent the wires and cables used to connect the routing components together. These will be manipulated through the mechanical assembly to show placement as well as colors and wire gauges. Lastly, the routing features are made up of the 2D and 3D Sketches that drive the routing parts. While this may seem like a lot to keep track of, SOLIDWORKS Electrical Routing handles that for us.

Electrical Routing Ingredients

Electrical Routing Ingredients

How do I use SOLIDWORKS Electrical Routing?

Electrical routes can be started in a few different ways: From/To lists, at a Point, or with a Drag/Drop. With the Electrical Routing Library open, dragging the necessary electrical component and dropping it where it is needed will automatically launch the routing commands. The initial steps include specifying the routing template needed as well as wire/harness diameter and any coverings needed. However, coverings can applied later and the diameter is just our “default” as adding wires or changing the gauge will increase that value automatically. At this point, the auto-route command will launch and allow the user to route from the first component placed to wherever else we may need to go.

Drag component from Library

Drag component from Library

Additional components can be dragged into the mechanical assembly such as other connectors or clips to route the cables through. One of the additional benefits to using Routing over using sweeps is our clips can automatically adjust configurations depending on the cables or wires routed through them to increase the diameter. This process will continue to add in all the relevant routing components and to splice additional branches together.

With the pathways in place, additional electrical information can be added to the routing sub-assembly. SOLIDWORKS Electrical Routing gives the user the ability to define which specific wires are following which segments of the route. Additionally, the pins on each connector can be specified to dictate that Pin 1 on Connector 1 is linked with Pin 2 on Connector 6. This not only builds in better design intent but will pay off dividends with the downstream applications for the routing sub-assemblies. Immediately, the user will see the accurate wire lengths given for each conductor based on the electrical definition for the given route. In the image below, the 20 Gauge Red, Blue, and White wires have a length of 537mm based on the routes defined and the connectors being linked.

Editing Wire information

Editing Wire information

With the route fully defined, a manufacturing print can be created. This all starts with opening up the routing sub-assembly and flattening it out. This can be achieved with built-in tools to SOLIDWORKS Electrical Routing and create a parametric, editable configuration of the route. The flattened route can be taken further to quickly generate a 2D drawing that includes BOMs for the harness.

Flattened route print

Flattened route print

What is the Routing Library Manager?

The Routing Library Manager serves as the “brains” of SOLIDWORKS Electrical Routing. The library manager is the central location to define component and part libraries alongside the default settings used for SOLIDWORKS Electrical Routing. The biggest reason to enter the Library Manager is to create additional routing components. The Routing Component Wizard is a step-by-step process to create and embed electrical information into the routing components to be used by Electrical Routing. There are additional tabs to create the wire and covering library as well if those need to be customized as well.

Routing Library Manager

Routing Library Manager

What is the difference between SOLIDWORKS Electrical Routing vs. SOLIDWORKS Electrical 3D?

One of the most common questions asked is: What is the difference between SOLIDWORKS Electrical Routing vs. SOLIDWORKS Electrical 3D? Both software utilizes a unified Parts Library to ensure Electrical information is properly defined. However, SOLIDWORKS Electrical also includes other electrical information such as 2D Symbols and a database for manufacturer information to be used on the 2D Schematic side. This comes in handy as SOLIDWORKS Electrical 3D gets its electrical information from the electrical schematics created on the 2D Side and not from within SOLIDWORKS CAD. This means that on the Electrical 3D side, an end user is simply inserting and existing list of components with 3D Models already assigned. SOLIDWORKS Electrical Routing must have its electrical information input within SOLIDWORKS CAD and therefore is defined on the fly when inserting components. Both software makes use of easily adjustable routes alongside being able to flatten the routes for drawings.

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Sawyer Gara

Sawyer is a SOLIDWORKS certified Elite Application Engineer working out of Bedminster, New Jersey. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology and has almost a decade of experience in the SOLIDWORKS and 3DEXPERIENCE Design Ecosystem.