IDF Translators continued ...

Discussion in 'SolidWorks' started by Fred, Jul 26, 2006.

  1. Fred

    Fred Guest

    I read through the thread from early January of this year about IDF
    translators. I have a translator that I have written that will import
    and export IDF 3.0 files. I have been tweaking it for about 3 years and
    am almost ready to put it out as shareware.

    IDF is very simple in concept, but to really make it work reliably
    requires a substantial investment in robustness of your SolidWorks
    library parts and the placement and and orientation of the part. It
    also requires a lot of information be understood by the user about the
    PCB that they are designing. This is true whether you use Circuitworks
    or any other IDF translator. I used Circuitworks early on, but the
    devil in the details forced me to write my own. You have to have a
    reasonable working knowledge of the IDF format so you can chase down
    discrepancies. You will also need a person who is invested in
    understanding the system.

    In addition, you have to work with the ECAD librarian to keep
    everything up to date, because there is no method that I have found of
    keeping the ECAD and MCAD libraries in sync (which is necessary for
    this to work) except by meticulous communication between the two groups
    and constant negotiation and checking of the libraries. We have the
    ECAD components guy trained on SolidWorks so that the libraries are
    maintained at the root level by one and the same person.

    Where I work, we have invested in this and the payback is huge. I can
    import a full board in a matter of minutes with all the detail
    necessary. I can also export my designs back to PADs. There are
    limitations to this, inherent in IDF, and the implementation of the
    importer for PADs, but it accurately conveys board outlines, keepouts,
    height restrictions and placement of components if they are constructed
    properly in SW, and this saves numerous hours that we used to invest in
    detailed part placement drawings for the layout folks.

    The biggest payback is in the reliable checking of critical mechanical
    parts in complex electro-mechanical assemblies, as well as very good
    representation of what the board actually looks like for thermal
    analysis and for interference checking. A lot of our board assemblies
    are high density, High voltage boards where every component is
    critically placed by the engineers before the board is laid out by the
    ECAD group, so accurate modeling and rapid checking of fits is critical
    to us, and being able to export this information saves hours of work.

    The CircuitWorks Lite embedded in SW2006 gives a nod in the right
    direction, but it is just a nod when you really need cash on the barrel
    head. It's fine for studying the masses and volumes but useless for any
    kind of design detail. It does not really build the board as an
    assembly, but just a plate with a bunch of brick features on it that
    are the right height, and you cannot go back the other way.

    I will be doing a presentation at the New England SolidWorks User group
    at Foxwoods August on Friday, Aug 11, about the ins and outs of using
    IDF; the gotchas, the limitations, the heartache and the joys and what
    it takes to make it work in both directions. If this is of interest to
    you, it will be worth your while (nice plug, hunh?)

    In addition, I am looking for 4-5 persons in the Boston area that want
    to make it work and can help create guidelines or standards for getting
    IDF to work well with SolidWorks. I have a lot of it done, but want
    some help so that it is not just one company specific. To my knowledge,
    no one has done this.
    Fred, Jul 26, 2006
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