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How does OrCAD PCB Editor interface with SolidWorks?


How does OrCAD PCB Editor interface with SolidWorks?


OrCAD PCB Editor interfaces with SolidWorks using the DXF, IDF, and IDX file formats. These three options are available for export and import from PCB Editor.

  1. Drawing Interchange Format (DXF)

    The Drawing Interchange Format (DXF) interface lets you exchange graphical data from a layout design with that of other mechanical computer-aided design (CAD) systems. A DXF file exported from PCB Editor can be used to generate a 2D drawing or sketch in SolidWorks. For the interface, you can export or import the files between SolidWorks and PCB Editor.

    In OrCAD PCB Editor, you can export and import .dxf files to establish an interface between ECAD and MCAD. This can be done using File — Export — DXF and File — Import — DXF. When you import or export DXF data, a layer conversion file (*.cnv) is required that maps the classes and subclasses to certain DXF layers.

    You can import the .dxf and .dwg files to SolidWorks. For more details regarding the SolidWorks interface with DXF files, refer to:


    For more details regarding the PCB Editor interface with DXF files, refer to  User Guide: Transferring Logic Design Data 

  2. Intermediate Data Format (IDF)

    The IDF format is used to translate and exchange data between the electrical and mechanical design groups.

    In PCB Editor, you can export and import .idf files to establish an interface between ECAD and MCAD. This can be done using File — Export — IDF and File — Import — IDF.

    You can generate two different versions of the IDF files, namely version 2.0 and 3.0. The IDF 2.0 or 3.0 version generates two files on disk, a board file and a library file.

    The files typically have the .emn and .emp extensions. However, other extensions are also used, such as (*.brd /*.lib), (*.out /*.pro), and (*.bdf/*.ldf). The .emn file contains information about the physical size and shape of the PCB (including holes and cutouts) and component locations. The .emp file contains information about the size and shape of each component.

    For the SolidWorks CircuitWorks tool to read an IDF 2.0 or 3.0 file, both files must be present in the same location with the same name. Filter options can be used to limit the content output.

    For more information, refer to Best Practices: Working with IDF.

  3. Incremental Data Exchange (IDX)

    ECAD and MCAD designers traditionally exchange data using intermediate file formats, such as DXF and IDF. The solution is slightly long-winded and in every iteration the complete design data needs to be sent.

    IDX is an XML-based format that enables you to import and export incremental data into your design. It also facilitates a co-design and collaboration-enabled environment, by providing you with the ability to preview the proposed changes before accepting or rejecting these.

    To interface SolidWorks with an IDX file, you can export or import .idx files using File — Export — IDX or File — Import — IDX. You can set the output or input file names. In this way, files from PCB Editor can be exported to SolidWorks and files from SolidWorks can be imported into PCB Editor. The created file is imported to SolidWorks by CircuitWorks using the ProStep/EDMD options. The files have an extension of (*.idx).

For more details about this interface with SolidWorks, refer to:

For more details on the IDX format in PCB Editor, you can refer to Electrical Design, Mechanical Design Incremental Data Exchange in PCB Editor: Best Practices.

Note: Currently, Allegro Package Designer (APD) and the SiP editors only have the DXF and IDF interfaces. There is no IDX interface in these tools.