Keeping track of part properties in SolidWorks can be a very tedious task. If multiple properties need to be changed from part to part on a project, it can cut into your productivity, taking time away from further refining your design. Luckily, with SolidWorks Product Data Management, we can remove much of this wasted time with the use of data cards.
Data cards are a feature on SolidWorks PDM that are linked to the data contained in the SolidWorks properties of a part, assembly, or drawing. With these, you can view, and even edit a file’s properties directly from the file browser. They also allow you to search through your design files using properties as search constraints. There is a default data card that is included when you create your vault. It is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Standard Data Card
If this will suffice, then all you must do is add the file extension. Go to the Administration application and under the Cards drop-down in your vault, double-click on Quick Start Data Card. Once the card editor opens, fill in the file extensions you would like it to be applied to under Card Properties, on the right, then save the card in your vault. The extensions can also be filled in while saving. Do not use a period in front of the extensions. In addition, separate each extension by a semi-colon (i.e. sldprt;slddrw;sldasm). If you would like to include the usage for part, assembly, and drawing files, you can copy and paste the previous example. You can omit any of these to serve your purpose if you do not want it applied to all three file types. Your data card is now ready to use. One way of using it comes with saving a new file to your vault. As you attempt to save a new file in your vault, your data card will show up as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Data Card Save Prompt
This popup window will allow you to enter the properties found on the data card for your file. Another way to use the data card is within the file browser. First, navigate within your file browser to find your vault. Once in your vault, highlight the file you would like to edit the properties of and make sure it is checked out before you proceed. Then select the data card tab and you can view and edit your properties right from within this window.
Figure 3: Data Card in File Browser
As you can see in Figure 3, this is not the default data card. If you would like a more customized card, with specified properties you must create your own. To do this, open the Administration application. Then, right-click on File Cards and select New Card… which will open the card editor.
Figure 4: Adding a New Card
Within the card editor, you can add things to your card such as frames, edit boxes, tabs, radio buttons, checkboxes, etc. These can all be found in your toolbox along the top of your card editor page. It should look like Figure 5. You can hover your pointer over any of these selections and a description should appear.
Figure 5: Card Editor Toolbox
Edit boxes are the most useful for properties, as they are linked to properties and can be typed in manually to the user’s preference. To insert an edit box, select the edit box tool and click and drag on your card to whatever size you prefer. Next, you must link it to a property. Whatever you enter in this box is what will show up within your properties on SolidWorks. To do this, select an option from the drop-down variable name drop-down, as shown in Figure 6.
Figure 6: Variable Selection
If there is a variable that you do not see in the list or would like to link an edit-box to a pre-existing variable within your SolidWorks properties, you’ll have to create a new one. Select the button labeled “Variables…”, located under the drop-down menu. This will open the window shown in Figure 7.
Figure 7: Variable Editor
Select New Variable and enter whatever you would like to name the variable in Variable name, then select New Attribute. If you are trying to link a box to a pre-existing property, this step is especially important. Select CustomProperty from the Block name drop-down and then enter whatever you would like the property to be called into Attribute name. If you are trying to link this to a pre-existing property, the attribute name must be the same as the property name that is found in the SolidWorks properties, capitals, spaces, punctuation, everything. Enter as many text boxes as you need for your properties and label them with the Static Text tool and there you have it, all you need for a basic but fully functional data card.
That’s all for now! You now know how to create and use your own SolidWorks PDM data card. If you like the content or have questions, signup for our email list to stay in the loop for solutions or weekly content.