There are a number of ways not to use AutoCAD to create schematic diagrams out there. I prefer to use SolidWorks related tools to get my job done. I can take advantage of BOM’s, Libraries of symbols, parametric dimensioning and collaborate tools like eDrawings and Enterprise PDM. Let’s discuss how to create a simple schematic in SolidWorks Drawings mode.
There is a recipe to concoct that will make for successful schematic diagrams in SolidWorks. The first ingredients are the symbol libraries. SolidWorks provides users with hundreds of symbols that can be found here in the SolidWorks Content tab. Simply go to the Design Library Tab on the right side of the screen and choose the SolidWorks Content node. Then expose the Blocks node. Here you will find Hydraulic and Electrical appear in the lower window. Hold the CTRL key and Left Click on the appropriate icon to download the library. Once it is done downloading, the best option is to store it in a central location, like a server or the Enterprise PDM Vault.
Next, you want to add this file location to your Design Library references. To do this, go to “Add File Location” button on the Design Library tab. Then point it to where you downloaded the files. It is a good idea from this point to save our settings as a SolidWorks registry file using the “Copy Options Wizard” so these file locations can be easily deployed to other SolidWorks users at your company.
I like to add the line format, layer and, weird but true, the explode line sketch toolbar to my SolidWorks drawing environment. The explode line sketch toolbar includes the Jog Line tool which is handy to do exactly what it states.
The advantages to using SolidWorks drawing environment here are that you can marry 3D Views of the piping system and 3D Schematic view, export eDrawings, PDF’s and other such formats SolidWorks can export, plus Enterprise PDM can automate the filling out of title blocks and the creation of said export formats thought an Approval workflow.
Another way to create the schematic is to actually drag the blocks into Layout mode in an Assembly. The advantages to building it here are the Bill of Materials function can be called. To execute this, you must convert the blocks to parts for the BOM to pick up on these; however, this is an easy step. After you have added all your 2DBlocks, right-click on the blocks in the FeatureManager Design Tree and choose “Make Part from Block” and choose the either the “On Block” setting or the “Project” setting. The “On Block” setting is usually fine as this will constrains the part to be co-planar with the plane of the block in the layout sketch, which is fine for a schematic diagram.
Once you have the blocks all laid out, you will have the opportunity to create a Bill of Materials in Assembly or Drawing mode. If you want to Balloon the block symbols to match the items on the BOM, you can use the Balloon Invisible components setting on the Balloon properties. They are invisible by default as there is no geometry. But if you select the balloon button and choose the part you want to balloon in the invisible components list, and then select he part to balloon in the display, you get the patching properties to balloon on that part.