Ever wish there was an easy way to keep detailed revision notes, pictures, or other relevant, non-CAD data with your model? In the “old days” of paper drawings, there would be a packet of information (now called metadata) that would travel with a print. SOLIDWORKS PDM does a great job of tracking this metadata, if you have it set up to do that. Sometimes it can be confusing with regards to which documents are internal and which can be shipped with the file(s).

SOLIDWORKS has actually had a solution for this for quite some time now. It’s called the Design Binder. In newer versions of SOLIDWORKS, the design binder is hidden by default. If you do not see the Design Binder folder near the top of your Feature Tree, simply right-click anywhere in the FeatureManager (not on an item), and select “Hide/Show Tree items…”

The SOLIDWORKS “Options” window will open and you can change the dropdown for Design Binder to “Show.”

Once visible, the Design Binder contains an embedded Microsoft Word document with links to the active file. To save on file size, the document isn’t actually created until you open it. To open it, simply double-click it.

By default, links to “File name”, and the custom properties of “Description” and “Material” are automatically created. Since this is a Word document, you can add any more information that you wish. You can even link to different custom properties!

  1. On the “Insert” tab, in the “Text” section of tools, select the “Quick Parts” flyout menu and choose “Field…”.
  2. In the “Field” dialog, select “DocProperty” from the “Field names:” list.
  3. Select the desired property from the “Property:” list.

Any Custom properties that the current file has will show up in this list.

But wait, there’s more! Not only can you modify this Word document as much as you want, and it gets embedded within the SOLIDWORKS file, you can add many other document types to your design binder and have them travel with the file. Simply right-click on the Design Binder, and choose “Add Attachment.”

You can browse to most Windows files, and even link them to external documents so they will update the next time they are opened!

So next time you are looking to efficiently document changes or communicate non-SOLIDWORKS data about your design, don’t forget to use the Design Binder and give your SOLIDWORKS file a briefcase.

Thanks for reading, and as always, happy designing!


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