SolidWorks' software automates tube, pipe, cable design
Concord, MA—To reduce design time and errors, SolidWorks Corp. unveiled Sept. 15 its Routing software, which gives users its tube, pipe and cable route design capabilities in one tool.
Concord, MA— To reduce design time and errors, SolidWorks Corp. unveiled Sept. 15 its Routing software, which gives users its tube, pipe and cable route design capabilities in one tool. Engineers previously had to use multiple applications for designing these different types of routes. Routing is an add-on application that is integrated with SolidWorks’ recently announced SolidWorks 2004 software.
Routing targets machine and equipment designers, who were traditionally forced to choose between barely functional tools and expensive, highly specialized applications that didn't meet all their needs. Engineers often had to purchase additional software just to complete product designs with a variety of tubes, pipes and cable routes.
Routing eliminates much of the manual work that other routing software requires. For instance, it allows engineers to develop various route types in 3D designs. These types include pneumatic, hydraulic, piping, and cable routes for power and control functions, which can all be designed without leaving the SolidWorks design application. The company says Routing’s integrated approach ensures design and bill of materials (BOM) accuracy, and helps engineers complete designs quickly to speed products to market.
For example, design speed is especially crucial for Applied Engineering Services Inc., which designs and tests high-performance rocket engine test facilities for the military at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Designer Wes Mosier and his colleagues use SolidWorks Routing to design the test stands for engines as small as a coffee can or as large as a compact car.
'Meeting customer deadlines is imperative, so we're constantly looking for ways to save time,' says Mosier. 'For the first time, we've got one application to design all of the tubes and pipes carrying fuel, engine coolant, and other vital fluids, as well as the electrical conduits for the mechanisms we use to test these engines. Routing increases our productivity because we can design all routes at once, rather than piecemeal. That helps us meet strict Department of Defense schedules.'
Streamlining design, manufacturing
Routing also allows engineers to automate many of the tasks that formerly required manual keystrokes. With just a few mouse clicks, engineers can add junctions and assemblies; update parts lists; and create files that accelerate manufacturing. Some of Routing’s other key features include:
Intelligent connection points and fittings, which allows users to quickly develop a route, then drag and drop various tube, pipe, or cabling connectors and fittings into product designs. The software then dynamically sizes the route to match the size of the fitting or connector added to the design. The software also has the intelligence to automatically help engineers place the correct fitting in a tube or pipe route.
Intelligent route development, which enables quick route generation; adds items, such as junctions, assemblies and fittings, anywhere along the route; and then breaks the route into multiple segments. For example, engineers can drag and drop an assembly, and the software automatically configures the connections to the specified route.
Automatic bill of materials (BOM) updating, which automatically updates the BOM for a product design when an engineer inserts a component, such as a pipe tee or a ball valve into a route or modifies the route length. This eliminates the need to manually catalog all of the assembly's feature specifications n the product design's parts list.
Fittings library, which lets users easily drag fittings from a customizable library and drop them onto a tube, pipe or cable route, where the software automatically adjusts them to the route’s exact specifications. This self-configuring library of standard and custom fittings helps engineers eliminate time previously spent hunting in libraries for the right part.
Bend table creation, which accelerates product manufacturing by creating a table of tube or pipe bend data specifications, and then uses Routing to direct a computer numerical control (CNC) bending machine to manufacture the tube accurately.
Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor
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