Items and Product Development

SOLIDWORKS PDM items support both item-based and file-based product development.

Item-Based Design

In item-based design, such as engineer-to-order (ETO), you first create items and item links to represent product components and their relationships. You later add links to design files and supporting files when these files are available.

For example, a product manager might create these items at the beginning of a project:
  • A main item for the product, using the product ID from an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system as the item ID
  • An item for the product assembly
  • An item for the product documentation
  • An item for the software CD-ROM
  • An item for the power cord
  • A file link to the market requirements for the product
  • A file link to the specification for the product assembly

Engineering can then create CAD files for the assembly and assembly components. Engineers can add file links from items to CAD files. Quality engineers can add file links to test reports. As the product approaches manufacturing readiness, Sales can check on the item to see the final specifications and design review results.

See Creating Items, Adding Item Links, and Adding File Links for information on creating item structure manually.

For convenience, consider hiding files when creating item structure manually.

File-Based Design

In file-based design, you design the product first, then create items to bundle the design files (assemblies and parts) and supporting documents.

SOLIDWORKS PDM can generate the item structure automatically from existing assembly and part files. SOLIDWORKS PDM creates a main item for the assembly, child items for each part or subassembly, and file links to associated drawings. Item generation can also create items for each configuration of the product assembly.

By default, item generation from files is enabled only for CAD assembly and part file types. Your administrator can enable item generation for other file types, but it is more typical to link to non-CAD files from existing items than to generate items directly from them.

See Creating Items from Files for information on generating item structure automatically.