What’s New in SolidWorks 2016: Chapter 6 – CircuitWorks

CircuitWorks: For when your circuits have to work.

Honorable Mentions

Locating CircuitWorks Components

It’s now easier to locate specific CircuitWorks components, both in the CircuitWorks feature tree and in the CircuitWorks Component Library. There are two ways to search for CircuitWorks components.

Type into the Search field, located at the top of the feature tree in CircuitWorks (similar to the search filter in SolidWorks), or above the Preview image in the Component Library. The feature tree or component library are filtered to only display parts that match your search terms.

Activate the Find dialog by pressing Ctrl+F. CircuitWorks will display a list of components that match your search terms as you type.

Building SolidWorks Models from ECAD Files in Task Scheduler

CircuitWorks is now integrated into the SolidWorks Task scheduler. You can schedule a task to build multiple ECAD files as SolidWorks solid models while the system is idle. You can choose when the task is run, and where the completed SolidWorks files are saved.



Creating Copper Traces as Decals

Creating copper surface traces as sketches, split lines, or other physical geometry can take up a lot of computing power. Now, in SolidWorks 2016, you can choose to represent copper traces as a bitmap decal when importing PCB models into SolidWorks. You can save the images as bitmap files in the CircuitWorks Trace Decals folder or internally to the board file. You can also choose whether to generate trace images for all layer of a PCB, or just the exposed (top and bottom) layers.

To use trace decals, first choose whether you want to see traces from all layers, or just exterior layers when the model is built in SolidWorks. You can find this setting under the SolidWorks Import tab of CircuitWorks Options.

Then, when you’re ready to import the board file into SolidWorks, check the “Use trace decals instead of geometry” box in the window that appears after clicking Build Model. Here, you can also choose whether to save the bitmaps as part of the new SolidWorks board part file.

Because the traces are represented as bitmaps, they are not as accurate as a geometry representation, but this option is still very useful for getting the point across while saving computing power and file size.

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What’s New in SolidWorks 2015 – Chapter 6: CircuitWorks

CircuitWorks is the messenger between the warring armies of mechanical and electrical engineers. It allows 3D SolidWorks files of PCB assemblies to become 2D board layouts and wiring diagrams, readable by a wide variety of electrical software. CircuitWorks itself is not a tool for creating much of anything, but it is a simple translator and previewer of PCB designs.


Honorable Mention

Selecting Entities in the CircuitWorks Preview

Now, when you select an entry in the CircuitWorks preview window, the software highlights the item in the CircuitWorks tree, and displays the object’s Component Instance Properties (if the property window is shown). You can also select multiple components by holding Ctrl, or box-selecting. To auto-scroll to the selected object in the CircuitWorks tree, right-click in the graphics area and click Zoom to Selection.


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2014 What’s New – Chapter 6: CircuitWorks

If you work with Electrical engineers, you know CircuitWorks. It’s the best application for translating Mechanical CAD files (MCAD) to Electrical CAD (ECAD), and back again. In 2014, CircuitWorks became Hogwarts, because it’s full of Wizards.

Honorable Mentions

Associate CircuitWorks Components with SolidWorks Models

Before SolidWorks 2014, components on a CircuitWorks board were vaguely associated with some database somewhere, in a roundabout and confusing way. Or they were automatically generated as dumb blocks based on footprint shapes and component height. To change the shapes or appearances of components when they were brought into SolidWorks involved diving into the database and renaming or replacing components.


Now in 2014, associating a CircuitWorks component with SolidWorks geometry is much easier. Simply right-click on a component in the CircuitWorks tree, and select Associate Model. Then browse to the SolidWorks Part or Assembly file, and you’re done.

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Use thermal properties from CircuitWorks components in SolidWorks simulations

New in 2014, if any of the following thermal properties are available in imported CircuitWorks components, they can be used when setting up thermal studies

  • Dielectric and conductor density
  • Specific heat
  • Conductivity for PCBs
  • Conductivity for volumetric heat sources from components


CircuitWorks Component and Setup Wizards

Wizards are now available to walk users through the process of adding SolidWorks parts to the CircuitWorks Component Library, as well as setting important options upon first launch.

On the Component Wizard:

“The wizard guides you to assign the component orientation and to specify how the CircuitWorks software determines the package name and part number…”

On the Setup Wizard:

“The wizard guides you to set up a location for the CircuitWorks Library and specify which ECAD file properties can be used to match to a SolidWorks model.”

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UI improvements: Multi-Select and View Options

You can now edit properties for multiple components at once by Ctrl- or Shift-selecting them. Previously, users would have to edit components one at a time. It’s also easier to navigate a PCB model in a familiar way, as the middle mouse wheel allows users to pan and zoom just like in SolidWorks. Additionally, view options and camera tools (zoom to fit, zoom to area, pan, zoom, top view, and bottom view) can be selected by right-clicking in the graphics area.



 CircuitWorks Export Wizard

Previously, when exporting a PCB design from SolidWorks to CircuitWorks, features were identified based on naming conventions. For example, all features containing plated holes would have to be named PTH_1, _2, _3, etc. The naming wasn’t intuitive, and usually forced the user to go look up the correct naming convention in the help file.

Now, in 2014, that naming scheme has been replaced by – you guessed it – a Wizard. When exporting a model from SolidWorks, the CircuitWorks Export Wizard appears, and asks the user to specify the type of component being exported (PCB, electrical component, or mechanical component).


If the component type is a… The Wizard asks the user to specify…
Printed Circuit Board
  • Top face of the board
  • Features defining the outline of the board
  • Plated holes
  • Non-plated holes
  • Keep-out and keep-in sketches
Mechanical Component
  • Features defining the outline of the mechanical component
Electrical Component
  • Features defining the outline of the electrical component


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The video below has a full roundup of all the CircuitWorks enhancements in SolidWorks 2014.


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