We project a lot of views of our panel drawings and also show views of the inside of the doors. We have about 800 standard footprints in our footpint database (all which are currently 2D).
I can definately see some advantages to doing our panel layout in 3D. We have Inventor available and could do our layout in AutoCAD, and project our views with Inventor. (Or project them with standard AutoCAD though that is not as robust for projecting views.)
Is anyone doing panel layout in 3D? Would like some feedback on if this would be worth our effort to pursue.
Short of using AutoCAD’s 3D capabilities and keeping the panel in AutoCAD the answer is no. I know of several companies who model their panels in Inventor but there is no link back to Inventor at this time. However I feel Autodesk has this technology already developed and hasn’t made the connection.
If the 2D blocks were all Factory Assets as well you would have a direct link and automatic 3D panel. The trouble is this involves a lot of different software packages as of 2013. Again I’m just pointing out that I feel the tools are there they just aren’t in the right place as this time.
Workflow I am planning on trying… you know, one day when I have nothing else to do.
Export Cable Harness info to .xml
Create panel in AutoCAD Electrical
These panel footprints are Factory Assets from Inventor Factory Design. The 3D assets are also authored electrical componets
Open the panel dwg
Sync the current drawing with Inventor Factory
Inventor Factory Design
Allow 3D assets to update
Switch to Cable and Harness environment
Import Cable Harness .xml
There is a ton of work involved in setting this up. I’m just trying to point out that the technology is there but not in place.
I’ve recently been involved with an attempt to integrate AE with Inventor C&H as far as is possible (which isn’t very far at all). Problem is not so much AE’s inability to handle everyday items like crimped ferrules etc., for which workarounds can be devised - after a fashion. The really major stumbling-block is IC&H’s shameful inability to do most of the things you’d like it to do (and may once have imagined that it was capable of doing).
Sure, the .xml export gets you the basics like wires joining A to B, but after that there’s so much manual work involved in getting those conductors physically grouped and routed, that you might begin to wish there was a good old dependable 2H pencil tucked behind your ear. As for handling complex components with multiple terminal blocks in different planes, or connectors whose contacts are separately crimped and then inserted into the connector body : basically, forget it - unless you're blessed with unlimited IT resources.
After almost twelve man-months split between myself on AE and another guy driving Inventor, we came up with a workable solution of sorts, but it was way short of what the owner expected, and a long way from cost-effective, so at that location, the two disciplines will remain independent for the foreseeable future. I could bang on about some of the problems encountered and how we overcame them (if only partially), but - how long have you got ?
Far more software development needed here, methinks.