Basics of SOLIDWORKS PDM Every Beginner Should Know

SOLIDWORKS PDM Getting Started Guide

Are you learning how to get started with using SOLIDWORKS PDM? Congratulations! You are about to embark on a fantastic journey. Here, we cover some things a beginner must know about SOLIDWORKS PDM to get started successfully. Like with most other things, understanding the basics will help you achieve mastery over the 3D software faster.

What is SOLIDWORKS PDM, and why do you need it?

PDM stands for product data management. It is a system for managing every aspect of 3D design data and engineering processes from a single location. For example, are you creating a product like a car engine made up of several hundreds of parts? Then, you could manage all the CAD files from a single location (a centralized database) that you can access from anywhere in the world.

PDM is excellent for version control. Edits to a particular file can be made only by one user at a time. Even if you were building a 3D complex assembly that involves multiple engineering teams across multiple locations, you could be sure that everyone within each team has access to the latest version.

SOLIDWORKS PDM does that and more. It is a comprehensive 3D product data management solution that resides in Windows explorer. The 3D design software also has comprehensive search tools, automates notifications, workflows, and manages file references superbly.

Understanding the SOLIDWORKS PDM interface


As with using any 3D software, it’s essential to understand and get familiar with the SOLIDWORKS PDM user interface (UI). Take the time to explore the menu bar, command manager, search bar, task pane, and graphics area.

SOLIDWORKS PDM icon: The interface is housed in Explorer and is recognizable as a blue PDM icon.

Toolbars: The toolbar buttons are shortcuts for all the frequently used commands. SOLIDWORKS PDM remembers the toolbars to display and where to display them for each document.

Preview tab: The preview tab allows you to preview a document using eDrawings Pro. There are various view options as well as print options.

Data card tab: Every document and folder has an entirely customizable data card associated with it.

Version tab: Every document provides all the necessary version information, including version number, the current status of that particular version in the workflow, file category, and the workflow state.

Bill of materials tab: When you need to check the bill of materials of a particular CAD assembly or drawing, click on the bill of materials tab.

Understanding critical components in SOLIDWORKS PDM

Logging in

To begin using the software, first, log into SOLIDWORKS PDM. You can do this by navigating to the vault location in Windows Explorer. You will be prompted to add your username and password each time unless you opt for using Windows Active Directory (only available with PDM Pro).

Checking in

Each time you check in a file, it is updated to the server and a version is created. Until you check in a file, all changes are saved in your local computer only. You can also add a comment that will be stored in the PDM history.

Checking out

When you check out a file, you have the exclusive right to edit that particular file until you check it back in. When the file is checked out by you, others can view and copy the file but cannot make changes to it.

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