Solid Edge

On the Edge: Solid Edge Diagramming

15 Dec, 2005 By: Russell Brook Cadalyst

Integrated diagramming for Solid Edge helps you create electrical, hydraulic and process and instrument diagrams.


Many companies are switching to 3D design systems to cut costs, improve quality and remain competitive. The popular UGS Evolve to 3D program provides four easy steps that help many companies transition from 2D to 3D using a single comprehensive design system. UGS recognizes that some design problems are still best solved using simple 2D geometry, such as machine layouts and schematic diagrams; Solid Edge includes tools for these tasks.

Solid Edge diagramming lets you create electrical, P&ID (process and instrument designs) and other diagrams by leveraging industry-standard libraries of 2D blocks and quickly connecting them with associative connectors (figure 1). Three main components make up the diagramming capabilities: blocks, connectors and the ability to convert native DWG blocks on the fly.

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Figure 1. A sample diagram created by Solid Edge.

Industry Standard Blocks
Diagramming uses industry standard blocks (also referred to as symbols or cells) to automate the creation of basic electrical and P&ID diagrams in Solid Edge, without the need for a complete schematics system. Users simply drag and drop blocks into Solid Edge.

A block comprises objects drawn on several layers with various colors, line types and line weight properties (figure 2). Although a block is always inserted on the current layer, the block reference preserves information about the original layer, color and line type properties of the objects that are contained in the block.

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Figure 2. List of sample blocks.

This exercise is designed to give you a taste of what Solid Edge diagramming can do. You will use a draft containing a schematic of a motorcycle electrical system. The exercise covers creating a block, using blocks and connecting blocks to complete the diagram. Solid Edge diagramming is capable of much more. Creating Blocks

  1. Open the file BLOCK_EXERCISE1.DFT found in the \Program Files\Solid Edge V18\Training directory.
  2. Click the Block command on the drawing toolbar.
  3. The geometry you select is not in a block format. Select the geometry as shown and right-click or click the Accept button (figure 3).

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Figure 3. Select the geometry.

  1. The next step is to define the origin of the block.
  2. On the ribbon bar, in the name field type Brake Switch - Open. Click the Accept button.
A new block is created (figure 4). Notice that it is listed at the bottom list of blocks under the active document.

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Figure 4. The new block.

Now let's place the blocks. Review the following information before you begin.

EdgeBar
The EdgeBar delivers convenient navigation and fast access to blocks and block libraries. Blocks usually represent a much more complex component and are commonly used in electrical and P&ID diagrams. Blocks have several other special qualities. You can place a single instance in many locations; these lightweight occurrences result in an efficient drawing format and reduced file size. You can easily replace individual blocks if their design changes. If a master occurrence is modified, all instances of the same symbol is updated.

Place Blocks

  1. Go to EdgeBar and click Show Blocks to turn on information about blocks.
  2. Click the block in EdgeBar and drag it out on the screen. Do not click. Position the cursor so the block origin is at the grid point (figure 5). The block origin snaps to a grid point.

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Figure 5. Place the block in the grid.

  1. Press S on the keyboard to rotate the block clockwise or press A to rotate counterclockwise (figure 6).

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Figure 6. Rotate the block.

  1. Click to place the block and then click the Select tool (or press the Esc key) to exit the block placement mode.
Block Instances
Blocks also support multiple representations that you can place in alternate positions. For example, the same symbol reference can show a switch in the open or closed position, facilitating accurate equipment lists.
  1. Now, let's create another view of the same block. The previous block was a switch shown in an open position. We want to create a block showing the switch in a closed position.
  2. Right-click on the last block placed and click Unblock. This removes the block from a block format and returns it to geometry.
  3. You want to reduce the length of the switch to show it in a closed position. On the Grid ribbon bar, click the Grid Option button and turn off the Snap to Grid option.
  4. On the Drawing toolbar, click the Stretch command.
  5. Stretch the geometry (figure 7).

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Figure 7. Stretching the block.

  1. You want to add the geometry as a configuration of the brake switch block. In EdgeBar, right-click on the block named Brake Switch - Open and click Add Block View.
  2. Highlight the geometry, give it the same origin as the open switch block and then give it the name Brake Switch - Closed.
  3. Both switches are listed in EdgeBar.

Built-in Block Libraries
Solid Edge comes with libraries of electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic and P&ID symbols. You can also create your own standards using a dedicated command. Simply select the geometry and choose an insertion point, and the block is ready for you to use. You can move, mirror and scale blocks. If block is scaled, any text in the block scales at the same time. You can use several methods to create blocks:

  • Combine objects to create a block definition in your current drawing.
  • Create a drawing file and later insert it as a block in other drawings.
  • Create a drawing file with several related block definitions to serve as a block library.

Connectors
Blocks are joined together using connectors, a more lightweight and efficient version of a normal line. Connectors behave very much like enhanced leader lines; they snap to all keypoint locations on a block. Connectors provide an efficient way to connect blocks. Four types of connector objects (lines, jumps, corner steps and u-shapes) are specifically designed to provide different options to quickly depict flow lines or schematic paths between blocks. Connectors are faster and more efficient than using lines to draw the same detail. Like any 2D drawings, you need to edit diagrams at some time in their lifecycle; editing is easy with the associative link created between connectors and blocks.

Using Connectors

  1. Open the draft file BLOCK_EXERCISE2.DFT found in the same directory as the first exercise.
  2. Turn on the grid display. Set the snap to grid using point's option. Zoom to area shown (figure 8).

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Figure 8. Zoom to this area of the sample file.

  1. A ground symbol is missing. You can either go to the block library and find the ground symbol or find an existing block already placed in the file. Click while holding the Ctrl key and drag the block to a new location (figure 9).

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Figure 9. Click and hold the Ctrl key down and drag the ground symbol (A) to the location (B) shown.

  1. You will now place connectors between the blocks (or symbols). Four types of connectors are available (figure 10). You can apply end conditions to each connector.

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Figure 10. Possible end connectors.

  1. Click the Corner connector shape. You can choose a standard for the style of the connector or just use the default style. Click Connectors from the Connector Style list.
  2. Choose a color shown. Select a width of 1.4.
  3. Choose a start point and end point at grid point (figure 11). The start and end point can be any keypoint on the block. Experiment with the different types.

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Figure 11. Click the start point at A and end point at grid point B. If you get a corner placement, you can click the Flip command on the ribbon bar to flip the result.

  1. Place another corner connector from A to ground symbol origin B. Make sure you select the end point of the connector at A and not the grid point to ensure these two connectors stay attached (figure 12).

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Figure 12. Place another corner connector.

  1. A red dot represents the start point of the connector and the black dot represents the termination point of the connector. When you select a connector, the objects it is connected to highlight in red. As you move the block, the connector will stay connected to block. We will now connect the switches to the brake light (figure 13).

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Figure 13. Select the area as shown.

  1. Add callouts to the switches. Click the Callout command and add text Brake Switch Front. Turn off the leader, select the ANSI dimension style and attach to geometry. Add a callout to the other switch and add the text Brake Switch Rear. As you move these switches (blocks) the callout text will stay attached.
  2. Connect the 10-amp fuse to the front brake switch. Use two corner connectors and one jump connector. Use the Connectors dimension style. Place the corners (A) as shown in figure 14 terminating at the grid points.

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Figure 14. Place the corners.

Place a jump connector (B) between the two corner connectors (figure 15). Connect the jumper by clicking the jumper and dragging it to the wire it will jump over. When the wire highlights in red, click to place the jump. If the wire being jumped is moved, the jumper maintains the jump connection.

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Figure 15. Place the jump connector.

  1. Connect the brake light to the brake switch using two corner connectors (A) and a jump connector (B) (figure 16).

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Figure 16. Connect the brake light to the brake switch.

  1. The rear brake switch is in line so you will use two corner connectors (A) with the end condition set to Dot.
  2. Move the Brake Switch Closed block and the corner connectors so they will not overlap with the callout text (figure 17).

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Figure 17. Move the block and corner connectors so they will not overlap with the callout text.

  1. Exit the draft file and do not save.

Convert Industry Standard Blocks on the Fly
The ability to convert AutoCAD DWG blocks directly to Solid Edge blocks on the fly provides access to a rich resource of thousands of standard block libraries and allows users transitioning from AutoCAD to continue to use legacy data. Layer, color, line type and weight mapping are honored during DXF\DWG import to Solid Edge.

You can find a much more detailed version of these exercises in Solid Edge. Go to Help / What's New / Version 18 and click Try It.

See you On the Edge next month.


About the Author: Russell Brook

Russell Brook

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