I read through the thread from early January of this year about IDF\ntranslators. I have a translator that I have written that will import\nand export IDF 3.0 files. I have been tweaking it for about 3 years and\nam almost ready to put it out as shareware.\n\nIDF is very simple in concept, but to really make it work reliably\nrequires a substantial investment in robustness of your SolidWorks\nlibrary parts and the placement and and orientation of the part. It\nalso requires a lot of information be understood by the user about the\nPCB that they are designing. This is true whether you use Circuitworks\nor any other IDF translator. I used Circuitworks early on, but the\ndevil in the details forced me to write my own. You have to have a\nreasonable working knowledge of the IDF format so you can chase down\ndiscrepancies. You will also need a person who is invested in\nunderstanding the system.\n\nIn addition, you have to work with the ECAD librarian to keep\neverything up to date, because there is no method that I have found of\nkeeping the ECAD and MCAD libraries in sync (which is necessary for\nthis to work) except by meticulous communication between the two groups\nand constant negotiation and checking of the libraries. We have the\nECAD components guy trained on SolidWorks so that the libraries are\nmaintained at the root level by one and the same person.\n\nWhere I work, we have invested in this and the payback is huge. I can\nimport a full board in a matter of minutes with all the detail\nnecessary. I can also export my designs back to PADs. There are\nlimitations to this, inherent in IDF, and the implementation of the\nimporter for PADs, but it accurately conveys board outlines, keepouts,\nheight restrictions and placement of components if they are constructed\nproperly in SW, and this saves numerous hours that we used to invest in\ndetailed part placement drawings for the layout folks.\n\nThe biggest payback is in the reliable checking of critical mechanical\nparts in complex electro-mechanical assemblies, as well as very good\nrepresentation of what the board actually looks like for thermal\nanalysis and for interference checking. A lot of our board assemblies\nare high density, High voltage boards where every component is\ncritically placed by the engineers before the board is laid out by the\nECAD group, so accurate modeling and rapid checking of fits is critical\nto us, and being able to export this information saves hours of work.\n\nThe CircuitWorks Lite embedded in SW2006 gives a nod in the right\ndirection, but it is just a nod when you really need cash on the barrel\nhead. It's fine for studying the masses and volumes but useless for any\nkind of design detail. It does not really build the board as an\nassembly, but just a plate with a bunch of brick features on it that\nare the right height, and you cannot go back the other way.\n\nI will be doing a presentation at the New England SolidWorks User group\nat Foxwoods August on Friday, Aug 11, about the ins and outs of using\nIDF; the gotchas, the limitations, the heartache and the joys and what\nit takes to make it work in both directions. If this is of interest to\nyou, it will be worth your while (nice plug, hunh?)\n\nIn addition, I am looking for 4-5 persons in the Boston area that want\nto make it work and can help create guidelines or standards for getting\nIDF to work well with SolidWorks. I have a lot of it done, but want\nsome help so that it is not just one company specific. To my knowledge,\nno one has done this.