2D Cabinet Layouts in SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematics

   By Adam Ferrer on August 8, 2022

Creating 2D cabinet layouts is a key step in the project development process. Planning and organizing electrical cabinets takes effort to ensure the assembling of the enclosures work. Things to consider while making a layout are making sure all components will fit, positioning of components is logical and serviceable, wire and cable routing, ducts and rails and, of course, manufacturer devices and components.

Figure 1: 2D Cabinet Layout

Figure 1: 2D Cabinet Layout

SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematics is a tool that enables designers to create these 2D cabinet layouts accurately and efficiently. Recent versions of the schematics tool are useful for more than just 2D cabinet design. Consider harness layouts created in this drawing type as well as top level assembly layouts with key components automatically annotated (i.e., motors, switches, sensors, etc.).

Figure 2: Automatically annotated devices with manufacturer information

Figure 2: Automatically annotated devices with manufacturer information

Without moving into 3D space and representation of electrical cabinets, you can accomplish this stage of the project in 2D design. As a side note, if you have SOLIDWORKS Electrical 3D then that would be a better technique for creating this design. It can annotate and communicate with your schematics the same way your 2D panel layouts would, but in the 3D space. However, if you don’t use 3D CAD integrated with your electrical designs, this is the tool to use.

The layout of the cabinet as well as the position of devices inserted can drive the wire cabling order based on their relative locations. This means SOLIDWORKS will give you time back by automatically organizing these wires for you. The layout also allows for scaling to ensure measurements are represented accurately for referencing.

Figure 3: Scaling Tool

Figure 3: Scaling Tool

While creating the layouts you may run into parts of unusual size. These parts can look warped or scaled. The remedy for this encounter is simple. First, you can adjust the scale of the layout that can be changed on ribbon tools shown above. Change this setting and the layout and components will adjust accordingly. The second thing to try is to check the properties and ensure dimensions of the parts are properly defined. These dimensions will override the drawn symbol and scale it. After making changes to the dimensions, you must update the 2D symbol drawing. (As a side note, if these dimensions are correct, but no specific symbol has been applied to a particular part, inserting the 2D footprint can be represented by a simple box with the dimensions following the part size settings.)

2D cabinet parts are stored within their own dedicated library. You can add symbols to this library by going to the symbol’s properties and changing the symbol type to “Cabinet Layout Footprints”. Once this is done, the symbol will exist only in the 2D Cabinet Library Manager.

Figure 4: Cabinet Layout Footprint Library

Figure 4: Cabinet Layout Footprint Library

Figure 5: Symbol properties and symbol typeFigure 5: Symbol properties and symbol type

Inserting parts into the layout is as simple as right clicking and selecting “Insert…” from the cabinet layout tab on the left.

Figure 6: Insert components into layout with a right-click

Figure 6: Insert components into layout with a right-click

Cabinets also need non-electrical components such as wire ducts, mounting rails or additional manufacturer parts. These options are available in the ribbon tool under the cabinet layout tab. When these components are added using these tools, they will also be included in a BOM downstream when it comes time to build reports and other supporting documents.

Figure 7: Non-Electrical components required for cabinet design

Figure 7: Non-Electrical components required for cabinet design

When components are properly proportioned, and the assembly space has been completed including 2D electrical component footprints, “Optimize Wire Cabling Order” is a command used to reset wire numbering order based on positioning of the components in the drawing.

This will re-order wiring and attribute to 3D routing algorithms in order to process results. The larger the design, the greater the dividends paid by the automation.

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Adam Ferrer

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