Solid Edge diagramming lets you create electrical, P&ID (process and instrument designs) and other diagrams, using standard libraries of 2D (AutoCAD) blocks and quickly connecting them with associative connectors (figure 1). Three main components make up the diagramming capabilities: blocks, connectors and the ability to convert native DWG blocks on the fly.
Diagramming uses industry standard blocks (also referred to as symbols or cells) to automate the creation of basic electrical and P&ID diagrams in Solid Edge, without the need for a complete schematics system. Users simply drag and drop blocks into Solid Edge.
A block comprises objects drawn on several layers with various colors, line types and line weight properties (see below). Although a block is always inserted on the current layer, the block reference preserves information about the original layer, color and line type properties of the objects that are contained in the block.
Blocks are found in the Library tab in the Pathfinder. Use the folder drop down to move to a directory that holds Solid Edge draft or AutoCAD dwg files. Solid Edge comes delivered with a number of sample files which are located in C:\Program Files\Solid Edge ST#\Sample Blocks. Alternatively, there are multiple dwg files of standard blocks for all types of diagramming. When you select the file in the Pathfinder, all of the blocks are listed and the preview window will display all of the blocks in the file.
To place a block select the name from the list and drag it into the window and click to place it where you want it. Look in the help file under “Using blocks” for more information.
When working with the diagramming tools, you may find it easier to work with the grid. This is found in the sketching tab in the Draw group. Select the Grid options
The Grid options allow you to display the grid as lines or points, specify the spacing and enable you to snap to grid points.
When you have placed your blocks, you can connect them together with the connectors. These are found on the Sketch tab under the Annotation group:
There are four styles of connectors, Line, Jump, Corner and Step. Line and corner connectors consist of start and end handles. Jump and step connectors also contain a midpoint handle that defines the center of the step or arc.
The midpoint of the jump arc can be connected to another line, such as a wire, or to another connector segment, so that it moves with the connected element. The midpoint of the step can only be snapped to another object, not connected to it.
Input to create a connector consists of two points. These two points can be on a block, another 2D graphic object, on a keypoint, on a grid, in free space, and even a point on another connector. The eligible points on a connector include a midpoint or start/end vertex.
When you attach a jump connector to another element, both the jump and the connected element highlight to show they are connected. When the annotation moves, the connector moves with it.
These tools have been created with ease of use in mind and the ability to join connectors to blocks enables you to rearrange items in the schematic very quickly. If you do this type of work, I would recommend that you look closely at this tool – and remember that this can all be achieved in the free 2D version.