SolidWorks Syncs Electrical, Mechanical Design Silos
Showing a commitment to stamping out one of the biggest barriers to product development, SolidWorks has released a family of electrical applications designed to break down traditional design siloes and connect mechanical and electrical engineering teams. The SolidWorks Electrical family includes a system-level 2D schematic design tool and a powerful 3D electrical modeling add-in for the standard SolidWorks CAD tool, linked together in real-time. SolidWorks CEO Bertrand Sicot said more than half its customers require a solution that streamlines collaboration between mechanical and electrical system engineers.
“Virtually every product you see today has more and more electrical and electronic content,” Eric Leafquist, product manager at SolidWorks, told us. “Most products have computer chips, displays, even intelligence, but the unsung hero is the set of connections between the microprocessor and the device doing the job, whether it’s a simple children’s toy or a more sophisticated product.”
By integrating the worlds of electrical and mechanical design, SolidWorks is aiming to facilitate design changes and early collaboration — both of which are essential to breaking down the siloes that have hampered delivery cycles and opened doors to potential quality problems. Leafquist said the real-time connections between the 2D electrical schematics and the 3D mechanical models help streamline the design phase, reduce product delays, and result in more consistent and standardized designs, not to mention lower overall product development costs.
The new offerings include SolidWorks Electrical, a 2D schematic tool for electrical system architecture and planning. It allows for more accurate creation of schematics with a library of more than 500,000 standard electrical parts. The complementary tool, SolidWorks Electrical 3D, is an add-in for the SolidWorks CAD package that connects the 2D systems-level schematics capability to the 3D models in real-time. It allows bidirectional updates between 2D and 3D to synchronize electromechanical designs, helping to maintain consistency throughout the development process.
It also helps standardize designs and unifies the electrical and mechanical bill of materials — another factor Leafquist cited in reducing mistakes and delays. The ability to place the electrical system, cables, and wiring in the 3D model also facilitates planning of specific locations and paths for consistent product manufacturing.
In addition, the company is offering the SolidWorks Electrical Professional bundle, which combines both capabilities in a single application for users who cross the 2D and 3D areas of electrical development. Technology for this application and the rest of the new offerings hails from Trace Software, a SolidWorks partner whose elecworks tool is integrated with the SolidWorks environment.
Though SolidWorks Premium already could add routing, harnesses, wires, and tubes into a 3D model, it did not previously offer up-front 2D system schematics or real-time integration between the 2D schematic and the 3D model. “Traditionally, the design has been very much a disjointed approach,” Leafquist said. “The electrical department was literally separate in terms of the department and the tool set. With this, everything is highly integrated.”