By Justin Lingerfelt on June 2, 2021

You are starting a new project and it looks a lot like a previous project. It may even be just an updated version. So, you ask yourself, “Can I save some time by reusing my previous data?" Well, you absolutely can! Today we will look at four ways to reuse existing designs to jumpstart your next project. These methods are; Save as, Pack and Go, SOLIDWORKS Treehouse, and finally SOLIDWORKS PDM with Copy Tree.

Save As

The most basic way in which to reuse data is to open the part you want to update and save it as a copy. Next, open the drawing of the original, replace the references then save that as a copy as well. This works fine for single parts, but it requires the user to be mindful of file references and can get messy if the part is used in one or more assemblies.SOLIDWORKS Save As

Click to Enlarge

Pack and Go

Pack and Go will give us a little more control and will allow us to package or rename files and maintain some file references. We have options to bulk replace text within file names using the “replace” button, add a prefix or suffix to the filename, and can even choose which files to copy. However, this still requires the user to be mindful of file references, and it's very easy to accidentally create a lot of unneeded duplicate files.


Click to Enlarge

>> Learn About Organizing Your Files in the SOLIDWORKS Feature Tree


SOLIDWORKS Treehouse is a tool outside of SOLIDWORKS that lets us quickly build and visualize an assembly structure. We can rename files, add new ones, and reuse the things that won't change. Once the assembly tree is the way we want it, we can export it to SOLIDWORKS where we will have a jumpstart on our design. Sometimes reusing drawings may be tricky and you may end up utilizing the technique outlined in “Save As” to replace references on the drawings and saving them as part of the new drawings. You will find what works best for you.


Click to Enlarge

>> Watch the video 'How Do I Get Started With SOLIDWORKS Treehouse?'


This is the most robust way of reusing existing designs. We can do bulk renaming of files, file references are handled for us, and since it is in PDM we can leverage many other tools that simply don’t exist with the other methods. This could include things like setting up new project templates that allow users to create a uniform file structure every time instead of naming directories and files however they choose.

Here is a list of some of the benefits of using PDM for design reuse.

  • Consistent file structure
  • Automatic creation of documents
  • Easily rename multiple components and files
  • Automatically track all changes and file history
  • Append files to Engineering Change documents so they travel through the workflow together
  • Easily work within a multi-user environment
  • File references automatically maintained
  • Warning if files already exist – No duplicates

Click to Enlarge

As your business continues to push forward and your company grows, you may find yourself with an abundance of legacy data on your hands. How do you work with this older or obsolete data? We have a roadmap for you! Watch the below on-demand webinar 'How to Support Your Legacy Parts & Products In-House.'