EMbassyWorks – the CAD-Reviews independent review

Model any flexible, round section system

EMbassyWorks review screenshot

EMbassyWorks from Linius Technologies

As CAD increases in sophistication and intelligence, the range of product features that can be modelled grows.

The EMbassy Wire harness design range from Linius comprises two versions with similar functionality; a standalone version with an integrated modeller and EmbassyWorks, a SolidWorks Gold Partner add-in.

Significantly in the latest version 3 the external Oracle database has been dropped in favour of integrated SolidWorks 3rd Party Storage that stores harness data directly within part and assembly files.

This not only aids data management and revision control but through the use of SolidWorks constraints also offers full associativity between the mechanical elements and the cabling channel positions and wire lengths.

A small selection of functionality is required in the part modelling environment in order to add pins and associated properties to connector parts.

Pins are essentially points created within 3D SolidWorks sketches with constraints added to position on centre within bores or aligned to surfaces as required.

Pins are ascribed unique identifiers and part data can include vendor details.

Once connectors have been located within an assembly, wires can be added either manually or for more complex layouts either interactively or fully automatically from ASCII wire list and config files or an EDIF import file.

As a minimum this must define a library part number, a design specific pin reference for each end point and a unique wire ID.

Irrespective of the method used, the wire is initially drawn point to point.

The Geometry Tab on the Wire Properties Dialog Box displays associated properties such as SignalName, wire diameter and conductor diameter.

The next stage is to add channels or routing paths using the Insert Channel Mode by point and click creation of 3D control points.

These can be subsequently constrained to other geometry including routing through clamps or holes.

Large numbers of wires can be routed quickly using the Auto-Router that looks for the shortest channel path between the endpoints of each wire.

Wires can be routed automatically as few applications require an understanding of the exact wire position within a bundle since in manufacture there is usually little control over the wire position so a centreline approximation is sufficient.

Wire length can then be calculated as the sum of centreline lengths of all channels the wire passes through plus an allowance for exposed stubs at each end of the wire.

Bundle diameters are calculated using a custom algorithm that packs the wires into a round pattern taking into account the air-space between wires.

Channel curves are swept into SolidWorks geometry in order to show their true diameter.

Whenever the channel geometry is updated wire lengths also update.

Although the true pictorial view can be useful, wires can also be shown as simple curves rather than 3D SolidWorks sweeps as in complex harnesses the performance overhead can be considerable.

Wires can be grouped together into cables using a Cable ID property.

When wires are part of the same cable, they are routed and un-routed together with the cable diameter properly factored into the channel diameter calculation.

If connectivity of the individual wires within a cable is not important then a cable can be simplified to a ‘super wire’ and be represented as a single wire equal to the diameter of the cable.

Shielding can also be represented, with electrical connectivity captured by being modelled as an additional wire with special properties to indicate that it is a shield.

Ground and unconnected pins can be included to represent shield wire terminations.

Signal types can be defined allowing interference checking to be conducted using design rules to check for incompatible signal types that share the same channel.

EMbassyWorks currently offers ten design rule checks including maximum channel diameter, maximum wire length, maximum percent full for channel diameter, wire and channel bend radius, and gauge.

Custom design rule checks can be written using Visual Basic scripting and EMbassyWorks’s Application Programming Interface.

Wire run lists, bill of materials, connector pin lists, and many other reports can be created as ASCII reports with EM-ReportWorks.

Any property data added to EMbassyWorks objects can be output via the report generator and used as BOM drawing sheet data if required.

Graphical documentation can be created as SolidWorks drawing views showing overall harness runs or specific connector details.

Flattened representations of the harness can be automatically created with the external EM-NailboardWorks application, either 1:1 for manufacturing layout or as not-to-scale documentation.

The harness can be straightened and annotated with associative dimensions and EmbassyWorks properties.

Any changes made to the harness in 3D, including adding, moving or deleting wires, moving channels and property changes, are reflected in the nailboard.

In addition to wire harness design, Embassy can be used to model any flexible, round section system such as hydraulics and fibre optics but is not currently optimised for flex circuits or ribbon cables.

EMbassyWorks is available as a node locked or floating license.

CAD modelling of harness design eliminates the need to wait for a hardware prototype, allowing experimentation with various harness topologies or routing strategies, backed up by design rule checking to ensure a practical solution is reached.

Although EMbassy is available as a standalone product, for users of SolidWorks the seamless integration and associativity with an existing mechanical model is a great benefit.

All aspects of the design data is stored together, and changes can easily ripple through design documentation minimising the risk of incompatible versions.

EMbassy brings together the logic within schematic capture tools such as OrCad, Viewlogic, Mentor Graphics and the geometric, spatial requirements of the physical product before costly hardware is manufactured.