Interoperability: AutoCAD Electrical and Inventor
Use AutoCAD Electrical and Inventor interoperability to digitally prototype and document your electrical designs
In this Skill Builder, you learn how to interchange data between AutoCAD Electrical and Inventor. In the first half of the Skill Builder the data exchange direction is from AutoCAD Electrical to Inventor.
In the second half the exchange direction is from Inventor to AutoCAD Electrical.
You do not need both programs to derive benefit from this exercise: the two XML files generated in the course of this workflow are also included in the sample zip file (see the link below) so that if you only have one program you can still perform the XML import operation. For example, if you only have access to AutoCAD Electrical, you can review the Inventor portion of the Skill Builder and then perform the import steps, and subsequent steps, in the AutoCAD Electrical: Import the Inventor data section.
Having said that, this Skill Builder is also meant to demonstrate the combined power of AutoCAD Electrical and Inventor when applied in tandem to your designs. Take advantage of the ease of data exchange between the two programs to explore new avenues of digital prototyping.
Note: This Skill Builder was created using AutoCAD Electrical 2010 and Inventor 2010 Professional (you need the Professional or Routed Systems versions for the Cable and Harness functionality).
This Skill Builder uses a naming convention when referring to ribbon commands. For example, in the selection path Project > Project Tools > Manager, Project is the name of the tab, Project Tools is the name of the panel on the tab, and Manager is the name of the command.
In this half of the Skill Builder, you learn how to export your data from AutoCAD Electrical to Inventor. The sample DWG file is a wiring diagram used for a seat assembly. The assembly uses electric motors to provide adjustments to the seat position.
Download and extract the sample. The zip file contains AutoCAD Electrical and Inventor files, and other related files.
The XML files mentioned above are contained in the Automotive/XML_delivered directory.
Start AutoCAD Electrical.
Open the Project Manager. If this window is closed select Project > Project Tools > Manager.
Select Open Project from the project drop-down menu.
Select the project ace_inv.wdp then click Open. The project is located in the Automotive folder.
Expand the ACE_INV project and then double-click 900501.dwg.
Ensure the drawing is in Model Space.
Rename component tags
Before you export this data to Inventor, you update the PASSENGER SEAT component tags. Assume that this drawing was copied forward and is now ready to modify and use for the driver seat.
Select Schematic > Edit Components > Find/Edit/Replace Component Text.
Select Active drawing (all) in the Find/Edit/Replace Electrical Component Text dialog box. Click OK.
Set the following options and take the following actions in the Find/Edit/Replace – this Drawing (all) dialog box.
- Select Find in the Location Code group.
- Click List and then select PASSENGER SEAT in the Loc values dialog box. Click OK.
- Select Replace, and then type DRIVER SEAT in the text box.
- Click Start Search and review the results in the Match 1 of 16 dialog box.
- Click Replace All, and then click Yes, Make Changes. The component tags are changed to DRIVER SEAT.
Save the drawing.
Export to XML
Next, you export the electrical data contained in your AutoCAD Electrical digital prototype to an XML file. You use this XML file later to import the data into Inventor.
Select Import/Export Data > Export > Inventor.
Ensure Active Drawing is selected in the Autodesk Inventor Professional Export dialog box. Click OK.
Ensure the Automotive folder is specified in the Autodesk Inventor Professional XML File Export dialog box. Use driverseat_from_ace for the file name. Click Save.
Set the project
Select Get Started > Launch > Projects.
Browse to the Automotive folder and select interop.ipj. Click Open.
Click Done in the Projects editor.
Open the dataset
Open 100500.iam. The file is contained in the Automotive/1000 directory. The model opens in the Default design view representation.
This sample has been stripped down to reduce data size. The complete seat looks like the following image.
Switch to the Electrical design view representation.
Orbit and zoom your view as you progress through the workflow, as needed. It may be helpful to approximate the following view as you get started with the workflow.
Add harness segments
Now you add the two harness segments.
Double-click Harness1 in the browser to edit the harness. Be careful to edit the harness assembly rather than the harness part.
Select Cable and Harness > Create > Create Segment.
Select the existing segment near the front of the seat to place the first point. The exact selection location is not critical.
Select the existing work point to set the next segment point.
Select the other work point to set the final point.
Right-click and select Continue. The first segment is created.
Next, you add a second segment. This segment begins in the same location as the previous segment. Because you selected Continue on the context menu, Create Segment is still active and ready to create another segment.
Select the segment point that you added previously.
Select the existing work point.
Select the other work point.
Right-click and select Finish. The segment is created.
Import the AutoCAD Electrical data
In this section, you apply the AutoCAD Electrical data to the Inventor 3D model.
Select Cable and Harness > Manage > Import Harness Data.
Browse to the XML file you exported from AutoCAD Electrical.
Note: If you do not have AutoCAD Electrical, this is the point at which you can use driverseat_from_ace.xml provided in the Automotive\XML_delivered directory.
Select driverseat_from_ace.xml in the Select Wire List Data File dialog box. Click Open.
Click OK in the Import Harness Data dialog box.
The browser nodes in the Imported Harness Data dialog box contain the electrical components and wires imported from AutoCAD Electrical.
Click the Filter button in the Imported Harness Data dialog box and then select Show Issues Only.
Only items with issues display in the dialog box. There are many issues because the Inventor sample assembly does not contain many of the components contained in the AutoCAD Electrical drawing, as reflected in driverseat_from_ace.xml. For many of the RefDes in AutoCAD Electrical there are no matching RefDes in Inventor. The fact that various components and RefDes are not present also means that connecting wires also have issues. That RefDes are not present does not prevent you from successfully completing the exercise. This scenario is a reflection of a real-world design process where data may be missing or incomplete but is acceptable for a given point in the workflow.
Scroll to the top of the item list, right-click PJ2, and then select Issue Description.
The issue description describes the problem and offers solutions. Review the information and then close the issue description.
Tip: Click the Help button in the Imported Harness Data dialog box to open a reference topic that describes various elements and features in the dialog box.
Next, you use functionality on that same context menu to assign the missing RefDes.
Right-click PJ2 and select Assign to an existing Electrical Part.
With reference to the AutoCAD Electrical drawing, PJ2 is the RefDes specified for the connector that connects to the motor MOT2, the motor for horizontal adjustment.
Pause the cursor over the connector occurrence 900575:2 in the graphics window and note the tooltip.
You can select the occurrence in the browser; however, when you use the graphics window Inventor displays a tooltip. The tooltip shows the RefDes for that component. The Question Mark (?) indicates that the RefDes is not yet assigned.
Select the connector.
Click OK in the Select Electrical Part dialog box.
The RefDes as specified in AutoCAD Electrical is assigned to the Inventor connector and the issue associated with PJ2 is removed. Because the dialog filter is set to show only items with issues, PJ2 is not included in the list.
Next, you finish the import operation.
Click OK in the Imported Harness Data dialog box.
Close the message dialog box. For this exercise, we accept the remaining issues without making further changes.
The data from AutoCAD Electrical is imported. You should see eight imported wires in the graphics window and in the browser.
Route the wires into the harness segments
Select Cable and Harness > Route > Automatic Route.
Select the All Unrouted Wires option. The dialog box indicates eight wires are selected.
Click OK. The wires are routed into the segments.
Select Cable and Harness > Exit > Finish Cable and Harness.
Save the assembly.
This completes the 2D to 3D section of the Skill Builder.
In this half of the Skill Builder, you learn how to reverse the workflow and export electrical data from Inventor to AutoCAD Electrical.
Add a new connector
Place an occurrence of the connector 900356.ipt. Place the occurrence approximately, as shown.
Tip: Drag one of the existing occurrences from the browser into the graphics window to create another occurrence, instead of using the Place command.
From the Position panel of the Assemble tab, use Grip Snap or Move and Rotate to approximate the position of the connector as shown in the following image. The intent is that the pins on the connector face toward the front of the seat.
Normally you use assembly constraints to position and constrain the component, but it is not necessary for this exercise.
Double-click Harness1 in the browser to edit the harness. Edit the harness assembly, not the part.
Select Cable and Harness > Create > Create Wire.
Select the pins on the connectors, as shown in the following image. The identification for the first selected pin is PJ4 Pin 7.
Before you apply the selections, you can use the Create Wire dialog box to specify Wire ID, Category, Name and other properties for the wire you are currently creating.
Specify the following settings:
- Wire ID – 125
- Category – Belden
- Name – 9916-RED
Click Apply to create the first wire.
Select the pins on the connectors for the second wire. The identification for the first selected pin is PJ4 Pin 8.
Specify the following settings in the Create Wire dialog box:
- Wire ID – 126
- Category – Belden
- Name – 9916-ORG
Click Apply. Alternatively, right-click and select Apply.
Cancel the Create Wire dialog box.
Use Automatic Route as you did previously to route the wires into the segments.
Export to XML
Next, you export the electrical data contained in your Inventor digital prototype to an XML file. You use this XML file to import the data into AutoCAD Electrical.
Select Cable and Harness > Manage > Export Harness Data.
Name the file driverseat_from_inv.xml and save to the same directory you used for the previous XML file. Dismiss the Cable and Harness message dialog box.
Import the Inventor data
Now you apply the added connector and wires to the 2D model. Switch to AutoCAD Electrical.
Select Schematic > Insert Components > Insert Connector (From List).
Select driverseat_from_inv.xml. Click Open.
Note: If you do not have Inventor, this is the point at which you can use driverseat_from_inv.xml provided in the Automotive\XML_delivered directory.
The connector you added in Inventor is listed in the Connector Selection dialog box. Select the connector.
Click the Details button, located at the bottom of the dialog box.
Select Horizontal from the connector display menu.
The display in the dialog box switches to horizontal.
Click Insert. Place the connector, as shown.
In the Connector Selection dialog box click Wire It. AutoCAD Electrical connects the pins as you specified in Inventor.
This completes the Skill Builder.
In this Skill Builder, you learned how you can use interoperability between AutoCAD Electrical 2010 and AutoCAD Inventor Professional Suite 2010 or AutoCAD Inventor Routed Systems Suite 2010 to develop your digital prototypes. This Skill Builder showed you how you can:
- Define electrical data in AutoCAD Electrical and then apply that data to the related Inventor 3D prototype.
- Define electrical data in the Inventor 3D prototype and then apply that data to the related AutoCAD Electrical drawing.
This Skill Builder was meant to provide many details but also serve as an overview of a particular workflow. See the related Help topics contained in AutoCAD Electrical and Inventor for further details, information, and options.