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Strategy for printing?

Strategy for printing?

Strategy for printing?

I work with a lot of parts shared across many assemblies and they are often modified. The drawings can end up in various locations. When it comes time to print drawings for an assembly I have to go and hunt down where each drawing is. I'm looking for ideas on how to streamline. I'm currently trying a macro that outputs all drawings in a folder to pdf, then I can use a pdf merge program to throw them all into on pdf. The pdf merge program also lets you rearrange and delete pages which would be good for if there is a revision. However, I still have search for each drawing and compile up front. Any ways of making this easier?

RE: Strategy for printing?

Some type of PDM for all SW files.
Save all PDF's of dwgs in one location.
Acrobat Pro will allow you to merge/insert/delete/etc pages of the files.

Chris, CSWA
SolidWorks '15
SolidWorks Legion

RE: Strategy for printing?

We probably aren't going the PDM route. Saving all PDF's in one location sounds like a good idea however if there are over 10,000 pdf's I would still have to do a search on each individually. PDFill PDF tools lets me do all the pdf rearranging.

RE: Strategy for printing?


Many, many years ago, I was in charge of the network where we all used AutoCAD. I set up a central drawings directory, with a logical file structure. Everything worked fine, although there was minimal external referencing of files.

You need PDM.

If you can't have PDM, you need a file server for your SolidWorks drawings. You need to be in control of your file server. You cannot manage people outside your department renaming or moving the directories containing your drawings. You need the authority to stomp on people who insist on using their local C: drives. You need a logical file structure. Given the massive use of external references by 3D CAD, this will be way more difficult to set up than it was for me with 2D, non-xref CAD. With work to do, you want to be able to search through small directories. A big, central directory will be a nightmare.

PDM, set up by someone competent, gives you...

  • ...a secure vault to store your drawings in.
  • ...the ability to track changes. You can see who changes stuff, when they changed it, and recover what they changed it from.
  • ...an Engineering Change Request (ECR) system. People can flag problems with your documents. You can see the list of ECRs. You can see whether or not the document you want to use has outstanding ECRs.
  • ...search tools to find the information in your database.
  • ...the ability to check files out info convenient working directories, including your local C: drive.
I have probably missed stuff here.smile


RE: Strategy for printing?


If you want to use PDFs, learn HTML. HTML is dead easy to code. You can create an intranet with or without a web server. The HTML allows you to create multiple, logical document trees, with all sorts of explanatory notes.


RE: Strategy for printing?

Thanks drawoh! Sounds like a very good idea for making your own searchable "database" - create a webpage. I'm a little familiar with HTML so I'll have to look into this. Could take a little time to write but may be worth it. Might find a way to automate part of this process. Would be managing 1000's of drawings... PDM sounds like a great solution and everyone says so. They main reason we don't think it'll be a good idea is because early on there was a lot of duplicate parts made for assemblies for different customers and it may not be so easy to implement.

RE: Strategy for printing?


If you try HTML, look into definition lists. This provides a very simple list format, and the ability to attach notes to individual items.


  <dt>123-456 GRAPPLE GROMMET</dt>
  <dt>123-457 MOUNT BASE PAINT</dt>
    This requires part 123-124.

Why would duplicate parts cause problems with PDM? You should be building a library of standard parts. Your PDM easily implements read-only access to your library. This is the hard part to do manually. Parts libraries are one of the things that make 3D CAD more productive than 2D!


RE: Strategy for printing?

Thanks! What would be wonderful is if Solidworks would open drawings straight from the BOM! As of now it only opens parts from the BOM and then you can open drawing from the part but it only auto opens if it is in the same folder, otherwise you have to browse for it. Have the parts tag when it is used in a drawing. We were thinking about a PDM but we just aren't sure how much it will save time. Maybe eventually. We have a standard parts library we use. It is just occasionally someone may pull up a drawing from a different location (previously someone would pack and go to a customer folder and those parts come up in searches as duplicates. We just make sure to use the library parts). I'm just looking for a way to have all the drawings for an assembly somehow more easily accessible for printing. Some drawings are saved in the parts library folder others in the assembly folder others in a special drawings folder. HTML sounds like a good solution I'll look into. It seems like Excel would have a feature to organize and link.

RE: Strategy for printing?

It's not that PDM software saves you time, although it can. PDM is great because it keeps you have having a dozen copies of a file, in different rev levels, floating around on everyone's systems. That can cause a LOT of trouble!


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