A Solid Wire-Route

1 Aug, 2002 By: J. Fred White

Solid Edge's XpresRoute environment now includes tools for creating wires, cables, and flexible tubes. XpresRoute allows you to create single-wire and multi-wire cables in an assembly, assign wire attributes, and extract reports.

The first step in creating a wire in XpresRoute is to draw the wire path using the Line Segment or Arc Segment commands. Each segment of a multi-segment wire path must have connected endpoints that do not form a closed loop. After you draw the segments for your wire path, use the Wire Path command to identify the wire path and attribute the wire. The Wire Path dialog box allows you to specify the type of wire you want to create (Cable or Single). If you choose to create a cable, you can define attributes for the entire cable or the individual wires within.

The Save Settings button on the Wire Path dialog box allows you to store attribute settings for the wire path feature, stored in the wires.txt file, located in the Solid Edge Program folder. To make changes to this file, change the attribute values using the Wire Path dialog box.

After creating the path, use the Wire command to create the wire part. You can use the Wire Options dialog box to specify a template and the wire document's name and location; you can also specify the maximum bend radius and minimum straight length. The wire document is a container used to store the wire's solid geometry or its feature. The wire feature maintains the associative relationships among the assembly containing the wire feature, the wire path, and the wire path attributes. Now, let's explore a few more key aspects.

Curve-Segment Support

XpresRoute now has the capability to create 3D curves for both tube and wire creation. Once the path is created, select the Curve Segment command and access the option to create the curve using midpoints, end points, or all points, as shown in Figure 1.

figure Figure 1. Use the Curve Segment command to create the curve using midpoints, end points, or all points.

  • Mid-Points. The midpoints of the input segments are used (see 1A).
  • End-Points. The end points of the input segments are used (see 1B).
  • All-Points. End points and midpoints of the input segments are used (see 1C).

Note: The curve always starts and ends at the start and end points of the first and last segments. The midpoints of the first and last segments are never used. The curve is always tangent to the first and last segments in the path.

Wire Attributes
Selecting the Wire Path command displays the Wire Path Options Dialog with the following options: Saved Settings, Wire Path Name, Wire Types, Single or Cable, Wire Attributes, and Custom Properties.

  • Saved Settings. This option allows you to save the definitions to an external file called Wires.txt, located in the Solid Edge\Program folder. The file allows you to reuse wire definitions in other assemblies.
  • Wire Path Names. Wire names supplied by the user are unique for each assembly file. All wire paths must have a unique name at the active assembly file level.
  • Wire Types. This option is for specifying the wire type. The type can either be single or cable. The type of wire you select controls the list of attributes that appears in the dialog box. If you set the wire type to cable, you can edit the attributes for either the cable or the wires in the cable. A single wire path resides in a wire file or is disjointed from the rest of the wires in the file. For this case, the name of the wire, the color, and so forth are assigned to all the faces of the wire. The attributes are constant along all faces of the wire. A cable path contains a multi-wire definition and shares a common segment (trunk). The name and color of the multi-wire trunk is specified by the Multi-Wire definition.
  • Wire Attributes. Wire attributes, such as size and color, are used to create the wires, identify them, and generate a report.
  • Custom Properties. This option activates the Custom Properties dialog box that allows you to add and remove custom properties to a wire definition.
  • Wire Paths. A collection of wire path segments serves as input for the Wire command to create a solid model of a wire, as shown in Figure 2. You can use one or more segments to define the path. If you use multiple segments, they must have connected endpoints. A single wire path consists of an endpoint-connected chain of segments. These segments cannot form a closed loop. The defined Color attribute is applied to the entire wire path (see 2A). A cable wire path consists of several single wires that run along a common path. An example of this would be a co-axial cable. When defining a cable, a set of end point-connected segments must be selected. These segments cannot form a closed loop (see 2B). A trunk path consists of independent wires that share a common set of geometry. Trunk path faces are only attributed with the names and number of the wires that run along them. The trunk-path color is the part color specified by the wire file (see 2C).

figure Figure 2. Using the Wire command, you can put together a collection of wire path segments to produce the solid model of a wire.

Create/Edit Wire Model
The Wire command creates the wire geometry along a selected path or paths in a wire model file, using the wire options selected. The wire created is grounded in the assembly with a wire-path relationship.

  • Maximum bend radius. When sharp (non-tangent) corners are present in a selected path, this is the maximum bend radius that can be applied to the corner.
  • Minimum straight length. This value defines the minimum length of the wire that remains after automatic fillets are applied to sharp path corners.

The Edit Definition command on the SmartStep ribbon bar displays the XpresRoute SmartStep ribbon, so you can edit an exiting wire part. You can also use the Wire Options dialog box to make changes to the maximum bend radius and minimum straight length. You can add or remove paths to the collection.

Wire Report Command
The wire report command retrieves and displays the lists of wires contained in an assembly. The information is collected from the wire files in the assembly. You cannot generate a report based on the wire paths. The wire report is a snapshot of the wire data and is not associative to the assembly. There are three options for including wires in a report: All Wires in assembly, Wires currently shown, and Wires currently selected. Two methods exist to control the display of the wires in the report:

  • Top-Level. This is a list of all the wires defined in the selected wire files. Each unique wire path is output as a row in the report. Cables are shown as one entry in the list.
  • Expanded. This is basically the same as the Top-Level list except that cables are expanded to show the members. There are only two levels in the report. Single and cable wire paths are at the first level. Cable wire members are at the second level listed below the associated wire path.
  • Format Option. This option allows you to control how the report is formatted. Settings are available for text justification, grid display, column widths, fonts, and so forth.

I'm certain the ability to model wires in your assemblies and generate wire reports will eliminate what has typically been a manual and time-consuming process. So, get those spools of wire and nail boards ready for action! See you On The Edge next month.

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