The New Dimension in Electrical Design Evolution or Revolution?

Electrical Design Evolution

how electrical engineers moved from paper sketches to 3d

Electrical Design Evolution – Hi Folks! Its chilling winter here in Australia, so let’s have some warms up from electrical design and drafting news..

Over the past 260 years, the way we light our homes and power our businesses has changed dramatically. We’ve traded candles for light bulbs, abandoned the abacus for super computers, and swapped selenium wafers for energy-efficient solar panels. We now have a generation of products that are connected to the internet to improve the quality of our lives-think smart appliances, fitness monitors, and intelligent trash cans.  These innovations reflect advances in scientific thinking-and advances in the way engineers design increasingly complex electrical design systems.

1752: Lightning in a … Kite? electrical design

Benjamin Franklin was an inventor, writer and statesman, but he was also an engineer who developed electrical systems using hand sketches. His best-known feat? Verifying that lightning is actually electricity.

In June 1752, history says that Benjamin Franklin sent a key attached to a homemade kite into the air. “As soon as any of the thunder clouds come over the kite,” he wrote, “the pointed wire will draw the electric fire from them, and the kite, with all the twine, will be electrified.” While there’s a good chance Franklin made up the tale, his theory was “electrifying.”

1879: A Little Menlo Park Magic

Picking up where Franklin left off, Thomas Alva Edison (aka the Wizard of Menlo Park) held more than 1,000 patents. In 1879, he introduced the electric light bulb. It lasted longer than previous models and employed a carbonized cotton thread filament.

Edison made a host of other contributions to electrical design, including the system of power stations now called General Electric, and schematics continued to be the planning tool of choice.

Although a true technological genius, Edison wasn’t all butterflies and rainbows- he electrocuted puppies, a horse, and an elephant in an attempt to label alternating

current (AC) power as dangerous. He lost this campaign and Nikola Tesla’s AC induction motor won, mechanizing factory work and powering household solidworks electrical designappliances.

But that (admittedly creepy) anecdote hardly tells the full story of Edison’s life. He went on to improve life for generations of Americans with the phonograph, motion pictures, the storage battery, and more.

1907: Vacuum Tubes

Throughout the 20th century, electrical engineers used schematics to represent increasingly complicated systems for radio, medical devices, and computers. In 1907, Lee De Forest patented the audion, which enabled clearly audible sounds such as a human voice to be relayed and amplified using a three-electrode vacuum tube-the world’s first triode.

1929: Machine Packs Serious Voltage

Wiring diagrams based on physical connections entered the electrical engineering vocabulary in 1929, when Alabama native Robert Jemison Van de Graaff built the first working model of an electrostatic accelerator.

Its purpose: accelerate particles, break apart atomic nuclei, and unlock

the secrets of individual atoms. Van de Graaff’s invention is used widely in science classrooms and paved the way for future electrical research.

1947: Transistor Transition

Schematics advanced yet again when electrical engineers began creating them based on logical connections. A major breakthrough occurred in 1947 when John

Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley collaborated to demonstrate the transistor- which amplifies or switches electrical signals-at Bell Laboratories. The semiconductor, which paired two gold contacts and a germanium crystal, represented an upgrade from cumbersome vacuum tubes.

1977: We’ve Gone Digital!

By the late 1970s, functions such as placement and routing became available in automatic physicalElectrical design Drawings

electronic design automation (EDA)- marking the birth of the digital schematic. Bell Labs, along with companies such as IBM and RCA, held advanced tools that operated on mainframes or 8-bit minicomputers. In 1977, super minis provided massive amounts of memory for designs.

Today: Entering a New Dimension

For decades, companies have developed products that feature both mechanical and electrical components. The traditional product development process for an electromechanical product has created long design cycles due to sequential electrical and mechanical design, as well as the discontinuities which occur when different groups use different names for common elements.

There are challenges in keeping the Bill of Materials (BOM) accurate through the use of so many spreadsheets. Often, once the electrical design piece has been completed,

it is then handed off to the mechanical design team. After they complete their part of the design, the entertaining part happens when it comes to figuring out how the electrical pieces fit into the product. A physical prototype is built at this point and

the designers get out a ball of string or a measuring tape to figure out how the wiring will fit. Given all the powerful software design tools we have, it’s ironic that we have fallen back to low-tech ways of integrating the electrical and mechanical pieces of the design. As you might expect, this method is prone to introducing lots of errors

and delays into the production process, product documentation, and BOM.

Things have evolved a bit over the last couple years. Electrical schematics entered the third dimension in 2012, when SOLIDWORKS introduced powerful and affordable 3D electrical CAD software for Windows, merging the logical connections championed by Benjamin Franklin with the modern day need to build 3D physical connections.

Using SOLIDWORKS® Electrical software, you can easily design electrical schematics and transform the logical schematics into 3D physical models which integrate into the overall design. SOLIDWORKS Electrical 3D™ integrates with SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD modeling software to enable bi-directional and real-time integration of electrical components within the 3D model maintaining design synchronization and an accurate BOM. In this way, the entire engineering team can collaboratively work on a project concurrently, which not only produces a more integrated design; it can also lower project costs, and shorten time to market.

New Dimension in Electrical Design Evolution

Another benefit of the integrated SOLIDWORKS solution for electro-mechanical design is the ability to analyze or simulate the operation of the entire model against real-world conditions, such as thermal stress or physical vibration-all without having to build a physical prototype. This seems like “common-sense” (which even a man like Benjamin Franklin would appreciate if he were alive today).

From light bulbs to intelligent trash cans-and from handwritten notes on paper napkins to 3D modeling-one thing is clear: electrical design has entered the next dimension.

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What is the concept of electrical design?

Electrical design is a crucial aspect of engineering that involves planning, creating, and implementing systems that utilize electricity. It encompasses a broad range of activities, including:
System Planning: Understanding the requirements of the electrical system, considering factors such as power demand, voltage levels, safety regulations, and environmental conditions.
Component Selection: Choosing appropriate components such as wires, cables, switches, transformers, circuit breakers, and other devices based on the system requirements and constraints.
Circuit Design: Creating electrical circuits that fulfill specific functions, ensuring proper connectivity, load balancing, voltage regulation, and protection against faults like short circuits and overloads.
Layout Design: Determining the physical arrangement of electrical components within a building, facility, or system to optimize performance, accessibility, and safety.
Safety Considerations: Incorporating safety measures to protect against electrical hazards, such as insulation, grounding, overcurrent protection, and emergency shutdown systems.
Energy Efficiency: Implementing strategies to minimize energy consumption and maximize the efficiency of electrical systems, including the use of energy-efficient components and control systems.
Integration with Other Systems: Coordinating electrical design with other disciplines such as mechanical, structural, and architectural engineering to ensure seamless integration and functionality of all systems within a project.
Compliance with Codes and Standards: Adhering to local, national, and international electrical codes and standards to ensure that the design meets regulatory requirements and industry best practices.

What are the basic steps in electrical design?

The electrical design process typically involves several key steps, which may vary depending on the specific project requirements and complexity. Here are the basic steps commonly followed in electrical design:

Requirement Analysis: Understand the electrical needs and requirements of the project, including power demand, voltage levels, environmental conditions, safety regulations, and any special considerations.
System Planning: Develop a conceptual plan for the electrical system, including the distribution of power, layout of electrical components, and overall system architecture. Consider factors such as load distribution, redundancy, and future expansion.
Load Calculation: Determine the total electrical load for the system by calculating the power requirements of individual components and devices, taking into account factors such as peak demand, diversity, and efficiency.
Component Selection: Choose appropriate electrical components and equipment, such as wires, cables, switches, circuit breakers, transformers, and protective devices, based on the project requirements, load calculations, and applicable standards.
Circuit Design: Design electrical circuits that meet the functional requirements of the system, ensuring proper connectivity, voltage regulation, current carrying capacity, and protection against faults such as short circuits and overloads.
Layout Design: Develop a layout plan for the placement of electrical components within the facility or system, considering factors such as space constraints, accessibility, safety requirements, and ease of maintenance.
Safety Planning: Incorporate safety measures into the design to protect against electrical hazards, including insulation, grounding, overcurrent protection, arc flash mitigation, and emergency shutdown systems.
Energy Efficiency: Implement strategies to minimize energy consumption and maximize the efficiency of the electrical system, such as selecting energy-efficient components, optimizing equipment sizing, and using advanced control systems.
Documentation: Create detailed drawings, schematics, and specifications that accurately depict the electrical design, including circuit diagrams, panel layouts, wiring diagrams, and equipment specifications.
Testing and Verification: Perform testing and verification procedures to ensure that the electrical system operates as intended, including functional testing, continuity testing, insulation resistance testing, and safety inspections.
Commissioning: Install and configure the electrical system according to the design specifications, and conduct commissioning tests to verify proper operation and performance before handing over the system to the client or end-user.
Maintenance and Support: Provide ongoing maintenance and support for the electrical system, including periodic inspections, troubleshooting, repairs, and upgrades to ensure continued reliability and safety.

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