Being the inhouse expert when it comes to SolidWorks routing I get asked a lot of questions from people considering using Routing for cable and harness design. As I found myself cutting and pasting from one email to the next I figured it was time to answer them in a blog post. Here are some of the questions I answer a lot. I have also included some reccomendations on how to develop your own routing library, it can be less daunting than you think.
Does SolidWorks Routing come with an extensive library of electrical connectors?
No it doesn't. It contains a small handful of connectors that are useful for completing the tutorials and using as examples when creating your own library.
Are there any libraries of components specifically created for Routing available from 3d parties for purchase or free?
None that I know of at this time.
Why isn't there a standard library of connectors available to use in Routing?
A standard library of connectors will vary drastically depending on what industry you are in. Medical, military, aerospace, electronics, automotive all use different types of connectors. A standard library of components for all the different industries SolidWorks caters to would get unwieldly quickly.
End of FAQ---
At this point I like to ask how many connectors you actually use? Most times nobody has a good answer for me, they will say they use "AMP", or "Molex." I'm guessing you don't use the thousands of AMP or Molex connectors available. I can almost guarantee your purchasing department doesn't want you using them all.
Developing a routing library can be less daunting than it seems. Use the following tips and you'll be cranking out harnesses in no time.
- Plan and Standardize-Create a procedure for adding new components to the routing library. You are going to be adding parts to a library that you will be accessing a lot. Plan out the library structure and how you want the components to appear. Then you can add the components as you go.
- Build the library as you go-Take a harness that needs to be created. Or model the harness that's already been created as practice. You will have to add 100% of the components that make up this harness to the library. But if you follow your procedure from Step 1, when you go to model your next harness you may only have a handful of connectors to add. By building your library this way you see immediate results and also get to test your library and make tweaks. If you sit an intern down with the AMP catalog and have him put every component into the library, chances are you will lose an intern. Also when the library is complete if you decide something isn't quite right with your library process you will have wasted all that time and will have to create everythign all over again.
What are the steps to add Components to the libray? The Routing Library Manager has great step by step wizards to aid you but here are the basics.
- Obtain a solid model of the connector. Model it yourself or download from the manufacturer or other website like 3DContentCentral. Beware of manufacturers sites, their connector models will often have more detail than is necessary. While your at it get the mating half of the connector.
- Add Mate References to the part and its mating half. Technically this step is optional, but I think its so important just assume its mandatory. Use a consistent approach for adding mate references so they are easy to debug and test.
- Add a Connection point to the connector. This is where the wire or bundles of wire attach to the connectors.
- Place the Connector in your library structure.
- Add the connector to your connector XML library.
I led a Hands On session down at SolidWorks World 2011 in San Antonio last month. In it I led about 30 attendees through a basic Electrical Routing exercise. Despite being the last session of the conference we had a full house and some folks just stuck around even though they didn't have a computer available.
Apologies to those whose computers did not function properly. I tested two machines and assumed they were all set up the same way.
I figured I would share the materials here as Routing Tutorials are few and far between. In order to run it you'll need a SolidWorks 2011 Premium license. Once you've downloaded the PowerPoint, open it up and you will find a zip folder on the first slide. Unzip the folder to your desktop and inside you'll find a docs folder with Word document you can print out for instructions. Let me know what you think in the comments section or email me with questions. If you think it would be helpful I could capture a video version and slap it up on our YouTube channel.
-Update- The zip file in the power point doesn't work. So I'd reccomend using the download from the SolidWorks World proceedings site.
Zip file with presentation.