13 Replies Latest reply on Jul 11, 2018 6:31 PM by Jeremy Kepley

    Linking part drawings to assembly drawings

    Jeremy Kepley

      Hi all,

       

      The company I work for is asking me to find a way to link our part drawings to assemblies, so that when they open the PDF that contains the assembly drawing the drawings for the parts that are contained w/in that assembly are in the same document.   I need to find a way to do this without keeping multiple copies of part drawings that need to be updated individually.  I've been brainstorming ideas that involve adding the drawings at the DWG level and with a PDF program that can combine separate documents, but each method seems to have some devastating drawbacks.

       

      Basically, does anyone know of a PDF program that can link multiple PDF documents together and will automatically update when individual documents are modified?  I understand that Solidworks can do this by using the Solidworks Explorer program to manage references, and that asking a PDF program to do the same is a tall order.

       

      The best method I can see right now is to tell production that they need to locate each part drawing that is contained in the assembly's BOM and use a PDF program to combine the files that they need for their current use; deleting the file on their local machine after they're used so that they have to go back to the server to access the most current files in the future. I can give them a document that will hyperlink back to the part PDF on the server, but it doesn't really provide the solution that they are looking for.

        • Re: Linking part drawings to assembly drawings
          S. Leacox

          I'm no pro, But I would be looking at two solutions.

          1. Use the E-drawing format Solid Works offers.

          2. Use 3D PDF's. It's a different format.

           

          I have also heard of JT files being used for viewing in cases like this.

           

          What you are asking for is not possible with standard PDF formats. Standard PDF's only contain 2D information.

          • Re: Linking part drawings to assembly drawings
            Monster Jesse

            ok I'm sorry i have no answer but this is a good question il have to follow until it is resolved. good work.

            • Re: Linking part drawings to assembly drawings
              Matt Peneguy

              I create assembly drawings with the parts on subsequent sheets in the same drawing file.  Are your assemblies too big to do this?  How many parts are in each of these assemblies?

              Are you using SW Pro or Premium?  If so, you can install PDM Standard and all your drawings as PDF can follow the files inside the Vault.

                • Re: Linking part drawings to assembly drawings
                  S. Leacox

                  Few questions Matt:

                  Follow = Link?

                  PDM = Product Document Management. Is the a built in Solid Works product?

                   

                  Can PDF's link to DXF files?

                    • Re: Linking part drawings to assembly drawings
                      Matt Peneguy

                      PDM is not "internal" to SW.  It is an add-in that is available to you if you have SW Pro or Premium.  You have to install the server component on a Windows Server and the client goes on the computer with SW.

                      Follow!=Link but when you create a drawing and "check in" to the server Vault it will be the latest version matching the SW drawing file that will then reside in the vault also.  So, if anyone needs the latest version, they can go to the Vault and retrieve the PDF.

                      I do not know of a way of linking PDFs to DXF files.

                    • Re: Linking part drawings to assembly drawings
                      Josh Brady

                      Matt Peneguy wrote:

                       

                      I create assembly drawings with the parts on subsequent sheets in the same drawing file. Are your assemblies too big to do this?

                      Based on the part about "keeping multiple copies of drawings" I'd say that any given part may be used in multiple different assemblies.  It would be undesirable to have drawing sheets in multiple different assembly drawing files.

                       

                      If you have multiple different assemblies that use the same parts, somewhere you have to store the data of what parts go with what assembly.  You can:

                      -Make the PDF include the assembly sheets and the part drawing sheets.  You've already stated that this is undesirable (and I agree) because you are storing multiple copies of the same data.

                      -Store all your PDFs well-named and organized, then put hyperlinks in your assembly PDF that the user can click to open the part drawing.  This is undesirable because if you ever move your file archive then you have to update the hyperlinks in a lot of documents.

                      -Store the information about what assemblies contain what parts somewhere else, such as a database.  This is what PDM is pretty much for.  Your VAR can tell you about PDM.  SolidWorks has one, but many software vendors can supply PDM.  The PDF still doesn't contain all the part drawings, but you use the PDM system interface to navigate among drawings.  I don't know if the function is built-in to SolidWorks PDM, but I am pretty confident that custom programming could be done that would give you a button within the PDM system to sort of "export" all of the PDFs related to an assembly into a single multipage PDF file.  Ideally each sheet of the multipage PDF is watermarked as "Reference" or "Uncontrolled copy" so that nobody stores them permanently or thinks they're official.  The master copies of every drawing still reside within the PDM system

                        • Re: Linking part drawings to assembly drawings
                          Matt Peneguy

                          I mistakenly opened a can of worms with that post... Those are very good points Josh.  I sometimes forget and just think about my workflow, which does have it's downsides.  But with our workflow we don't really reuse parts in other assemblies as much and export the entire assembly from project to project, if necessary.  Yes, I know that's going to sound horrible to most people, but it works for us.  Our projects generally last years and putting those project files into their own silo prevents inadvertent changes to those files.

                          This is a very complicated matter and I made some assumptions that I probably shouldn't have when I replied to S. Leacox. This is a workflow dependent matter and I agree about getting the VAR involved.  Even with his/her description, it is hard to nail down what may work best for him/her.  The VAR can web session in and assess the files and what can be done and how or if PDM will help.

                          • Re: Linking part drawings to assembly drawings
                            Jeremy Kepley

                            That's a very thorough answer, thank you.  I am sending an email off to my VAR now to set up a meeting with them.

                          • Re: Linking part drawings to assembly drawings
                            Jeremy Kepley

                            There are a couple issues I have with creating part drawings in the same drawing as assemblies.  Foremost, we use parts in multiple assemblies.  We would need a method to keep track of every change we made to a part and where that part is used so that we could update multiple drawings.  We make a wide variety of products and we are constantly making changes so we need to have a system that makes it decently easy to ensure that the most up-to-date drawings available on our server.

                             

                            I haven't used PDM software before.  This may be a good route.  We have Solidworks standard but we've been looking for a good reason (besides the Toolbox) to upgrade. 

                          • Re: Linking part drawings to assembly drawings
                            S. Leacox

                            I use assemblies with assembly driven sheet metal. The catch to working that way is that the assembly must be open when editing the drawings of the parts. The advantage is that the entire assembly and parts and drawings can be copied as a group with relations intact.

                             

                            I use this for sheet metal box's that change in size, material, and gauge, but not in design. To work this way, some thought has to go into how the parts are designed so  they work as intended when the thickness and size are edited.