With a continuing trend to reduce the physical size of products and to increase the pace of development, the ability to accurately visualise and assess how electronic components are fitting into case components is of vital importance.
Electronic ECAD and mechanical MCAD data has traditionally been separate and any import has been largely manual and therefore limited to critical elements such as the PCB itself and likely clashing components.
CircuitWorks has been launched to fully automate the import of data from ECAD systems directly into SolidWorks models.
The PCB profile and thickness is created as a base part in an assembly file onto which block representations of all the other components are populated.
The only necessary interactions are the selection of the ECAD Intermediate Data Format IDF or PADS input file and the 'process file' command.
Parts can be generated on the fly as individual SolidWorks parts from the ECAD data or retrieved from an existing component library based on a Microsoft Access database.
File names for generated parts can be based on ECAD component names and custom properties can be added to parts if required.
Component prefixes can be used to colour code components for easy identification.
Although drill holes can also be modelled in the PCB, this can impact on performance if there are a huge number so it is possible to select the components for which holes will be modelled.
Similarly filters can be to only import required components.
Zero height components can be either ignored or prompt for a dimension to be input manually.
Many boards contain numerous parts so a handy locate component tool can be used to zoom in onto a component selected for the parts list.
Since mechanical design changes almost inevitably demand layout modifications, an export option checks for any component s that have moved, indicates the XY translation and writes a separate file or complete IDF that can be used in the ECAD application.
CircuitWorks offers a very neat solution to the integration of electronic and mechanical design data.
By enabling modifications in either application to be transferred, potential conflicts can be readily spotted and the risk of incompatible components reduced.
The simplicity of the automated transfer achieved by utilising SolidWorks' parametric modelling will encourage designers to evaluate fully populated boards rather than an arbitrary selection of worst case components.