2018, another productive year for fellow electro-mechanical engineers. Thanks to your feedback and the SOLIDWORKS dev team, SOLIDWORKS’ unique ECAD-MCAD collaborative PCB design tools have evolved, boosting your productivity to a new level while saving time and money.
The SOLIDWORKS ECAD-MCAD collaboration for PCB design is a seamless process that enables both ME and EE to work on the PCB form-and-fit with zero intermediate file exchange (i.e. STEP, DWG) based a collaborative messaging platform. In otherwards, your PCB design document in SOLIDWORKS PCB or Altium Designer will be reflected as a SOLIDWORKS assembly document inside SOLIDWORKS 3D by simply pushing a button (or two), and vice versa.
Collaboration with SOLIDWORKS PCB (powered by Altium):
Collaboration with Altium Designer/Nexus via the PCB Connector:
Now, let’s take a look at the top 5 collaboration improvements packed in 2018.
#1 Faster, Much Faster
Benchmarks showed that a PCB took 20 minutes to perform a first pull request using connector in 2017, that same task only takes 6 minutes in 2018. This is more than 3X faster, not to mention your consecutive pulls will only be around 35 seconds. Think 6 minutes is still too long? Here is a customers’ reaction when we performed a first push on their design: ”Wow, that board took me 1 hour to import as a step file…” Now the connector can generate that same board assembly file in less than 2 minutes.
#2 Drop a Heat Sink
The addition of 3D models passed through collaboration has always been driven by ECAD’s PCB footprint. Now, you finally got the option to add additional mechanical hardware such as heat sinks, rails, and stiffeners in SOLIDWORKS 3D, then push the model to the ECAD via collaboration. This new feature helps convey design intents in a more intuitive manner, as well as reduce design mistakes.
Push heat sink to SOLIDWORSK PCB
#3 Parts Stay on Board
Now you have the option to pull in the PCB assembly with components mated to the board in SOLIDWORKS 3D. This option eliminates component movements in the Z-axis, making placement change much easier. With the mating option checked, holes within a through-hole component will update their locations when you move the component.
#4 Variant as Configuration
Now your PCB design variants are reflected as configurations in SOLIDWORKS 3D. Component variants marked as not installed are suppressed in SOLIDWORKS 3D. This allows more accurate representation of form and fit.
PCB design variants shown as configurations in SOLIDWORKS
SOLIDWORKS PCB Services can now be implemented on a secure server. Sometimes, an additional layer of security (HTTPS protocol) guarding your ECAD-MCAD data exchange goes a long way.
We genuinely hope you can take advantage of above PCB collaboration enhancements in 2018, bringing your productivity to the next level, while lowering rework cost and time to market.
For more information about collaborative PCB design, please check out this Intelligent ECAD-MCAD Collaboration Video. Don't forget to subscribe to the Alignex Blog below to have the latest SOLIDWORKS content delivered directly to your inbox.
Written by TongWei Qi
TongWei Qi is an Application Engineer at Alignex, Inc. TongWei spends his day assisting customers on SOLIDWORKS electrical products and teaching PCB classes. If he's not here when you call, he's likely tweaking Python and Pi or scoring penta kills in League of Legends.