Electrical and mechanical engineers can collaborate to design printed circuit boards (PCBs) that fit and function in SOLIDWORKS assemblies, bridging the collaboration gap between Electrical Computer Aided Design (ECAD) and Mechanical Computer Aided Design (MCAD). Using add-on tools, such as CircuitWorks, designers and engineers have the ability to read ECAD files in SOLIDWORKS. In this blog, we'll go over what CircuitWorks is and the benefits of using this add-on.
What Is CircuitWorks?
CircuitWorks is an add-in to the SOLIDWORKS Professional and Premium software that enables you to create 3D models from the file formats written by most electrical computer-aided design (ECAD) systems.
CircuitWorks supports the following industry standards:
- Intermediate Data Format (IDF)
- PADS ASCII file format from Mentor Graphics® PowerPCB
- ProStep EDMD collaboration format used by Mentor Graphics and Cadence
Benefits of Using CircuitWorks
CircuitWorks allows you to design your circuit board with all the specifications that you need. With a simple wizard-based approach you can quickly capture the requirements of the board ready to be used by the electronic design team. Because it integrates with SOLIDWORKS, you’re able to add a wide variety of features to your board, and as of 2018, the SOLIDWORKS features match the CircuitWorks naming convention.
Mechanical designers can create PCB outlines, keep-out/keep-in areas, locations of major components and maximum heights and then pass the model to electronics designers. Electrical teams can filter out plated/non-plated holes, slots and vias to understand board mountings and interconnection to the mechanical aspects of the design to ensure that your design will be right the first time!
CircuitWorks provides a seamless workflow by allowing electrical and mechanical designers to remain connected. When a change in the electrical design has been made, CircuitWorks notifies the mechanical engineer and they can compare the previous version with the current version simultaneously! Approved changes are immediately incorporated into the SOLIDWORKS design.
Another important aspect of designing a PCB is knowing that it can perform under the toughest, most extreme thermal conditions. CircuitWorks integrates with SOLIDWORKS Simulation, giving you the ability to test your electrical designs. By assigning thermal properties (k-values) to components for an electronic cooling analysis in SOLIDWORKS Simulation, you can ensure your components perform in the toughest of environments.
Having an accurate PCB model in your design provides many benefits, including the ability to test the PCS performance, which is critical in electrical design. CircuitWorks will help you create and test the accuracy of a PCB model, reducing the time and cost of physical testing and the risk of product failure in the field.