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Editor’s Pick: E-CAD Integrates with SolidWorks

By Anthony J. Lockwood

Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:

LockwoodA few months ago, I had a flaky light switch. “No prob, ma’am. Man is here.” I open the panel box and, naturally, the index makes no sense. So, we’re on our cells in different parts of the house. I flip each breaker in sequence yet the light glows on. I call the pros — Tom and Bugsy. Turns out a bunch of breakers are double-tapped. Bugsy calls them merry-go-rounds. Running wires well is an under-appreciated art, and doing it right in the electromechanical engineering world is vital. That is why the new version of elecworks for SolidWorks from Trace Software sparked my interest.

As its name implies, elecworks 2011 integrates with SolidWorks. It’s bi-directional integration, so that changes in either application propagate to the other automatically and instantly. That’s important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that you can see and fix problems right away in 3D instead of discovering them later during the autopsy of a charred prototype. And, yes, 3D. Schematics, of course, are in 2D, but elecworks lets you visualize individual wires and components in a 3D panel or machine assembly. It auto-routes in 3D SolidWorks files directly, and components are linked with the schematic BOM.

The 2011 version of elecworks for SolidWorks seems especially in tune with the needs of automation engineers, although I should make clear that the software is for both design/mechanical engineers as well as panel pros. Anyway, its PLC management features include dynamic PLC insertion with customizable selectable signals and user-defined descriptions. It has automated and selectable PLC macros on a per channel basis, which lets you create a complete PLC I/O. Elecworks 2011 also has a connection label feature that represents as well as finds all connection data for a device.

One cool thing to mention: Trace Software is a sister company with TraceParts, the digital parts library people. That kinship means you can download intelligent parts with full electrical specifications from the TraceParts library into elecworks for SolidWorks directly and easily, saving you lots of time and effort. Other features of elecworks 2011 that you might find interesting are instant messaging with project collaborators, automatic calculation of wire lengths, direct copy and paste from Excel, and a multiuser database (that means file exchanges are easy).

Many more details on elecworks 2011 for SolidWorks can be read about in today’s Pick of the Week write-up. Your best bet is to hit the video link. Each video is short, sweet, and informative; some, not all, are narrated. Watching the videos left me with the impression that elecworks 2011 for SolidWorks is easy to use. They also reminded me that Bugsy and I mugged it a bit too much figuring out my breaker panel. I never did swap out that light switch. Gotta go do that.

Thanks, pal. — Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering

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About Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Desktop Engineering's Editor-at-Large. Contact him via de-editors@deskeng.com.
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