By David Torick
SOLIDWORKS Routing is a powerful add-in included with SOLIDWORKS Premium. Routing has a wealth of useful tools to improve your efficiency when designing routes that contain electrical components, tubes ( flexible hoses, straight sections with elbows, or form bends), and pipes (straight sections with elbows or form bends). I love how the software starts a route for me the moment that I drop a fitting or connector into an assembly.
While this automation can help to increase design efficiency, you still need to pay attention to your workflow to make sure that the route is oriented correctly. You may have been frustrated by this in the past if you have ever needed to orient a flange on the end of a pipe to match a particular orientation. Typically, the two-hole flange orientation (two holes are horizontal at the top) is most common, but there are times that the one-hole orientation (only one hole at the top) may be required
Knowing and using this design intent requires some planning to be effective. When I don’t plan properly and I try to change the orientation of the flange AFTER I have created several route components and parts, I get results like those shown in the following image.
At first, I was really happy with Routing in SOLIDWORKS 2014, it appeared to fix the issue. But, as I continued testing, I still ran into issues. Eventually, I found the secret to getting consistent predictable behavior.
Since the tanks, vessels, pumps, or other components with flanges that are already welded to them are usually placed in the assembly before the pipe route is created, I am in luck. I know the orientation that I need for my flange. Below is the necessary workflow:
1. Start your pipe route as usual by dropping a flange into your assembly and locating it to a component.
2. After you define the route properties, through the property manager, you may optionally add the end flange if it must be oriented as well. The next step is most important!
3. This is CRITICAL, immediately exit the route so you are at the Edit Assembly level before any other components or fillets are added to your sketch.
4. Add a concentric mate to align the holes on the flange of the route to the holes on the component you wish to connect to. Hit OK if you get a warning message like the one above.
5. Edit the route again and continue as you normally would with some of the great Routing tools such as Auto Route or dragging components from your design library.
Happy routing! And remember, if flange position is key, be sure to orient the end flanges BEFORE you add any more components or create any more route segments.