SOLIDWORKS, PDM, 3D Interconnect

How SOLIDWORKS 2017 3D Interconnect Interacts with PDM

By Keith Vittitoe on May 1, 2017

As you probably already know, one of the new features in SOLIDWORKS 2017 is 3D Interconnect. Details on 3D Interconnect may be found in our previous blog, but in short, the new feature allows use of non-SOLIDWORKS CAD files. As a member of the Professional Services team, I was curious to see how this new feature interacts with SOLIDWORKS PDM.

Exploring Basic Interactions:

Since the SOLIDWORKS 2017 3D Interconnect feature is still in beta, I explored the basic functions I thought might pose challenges for SOLIDWORKS PDM users. These three questions particularly stood out to me:

  • Would the file names show up in the local view? 
  • How would the Preview work? 
  • How would external references be handled? 

To begin, I took an assembly from the 2017 What’s New files included with the SOLIDWORKS installation. These are the answers I found.

Would the files show up in the local view? 

I anticipated the file viewing function to work fine, and it did. The types of files supported by PDM is extensive. Generally, the list of file types supports check in, check out and transitions. Plus, the file names are conveniently listed in the local view.  

Check in dialog: 

How SOLIDWORKS 2017 3D Interconnect Interacts with PDMLocal view: 

How SOLIDWORKS 2017 3D Interconnect Interacts with PDM

How would the preview work? 

The preview tab worked as expected for ProE (left) and Inventor files (right).

How SOLIDWORKS 2017 3D Interconnect Interacts with PDM  How SOLIDWORKS 2017 3D Interconnect Interacts with PDM

Note: You need to remove the numeric file extension from the ProE file. For example, "filename.prt.2".

How are External References handled? 

The data card will work if it is assigned to the file type in question – no news there. To test the versions, I added the “round cover plate” ipt file to the SOLIDWORKS assembly. That is shown here as gear box_1 version 1: 

How SOLIDWORKS 2017 3D Interconnect Interacts with PDM

Next, I tried to modify the plate from within the assembly. I could not edit or modify the ipt file like I can a SOLIDWORKS file. I’ll leave those details to a discussion focused on the 3D Interconnect feature, but basically the ipt file appears and behaves as if it were a virtual component. I ended up adding a square hole in context:   

How SOLIDWORKS 2017 3D Interconnect Interacts with PDM

Below is the Feature Manager (left) and the BOM tab (right) for reference: How SOLIDWORKS 2017 3D Interconnect Interacts with PDM  How SOLIDWORKS 2017 3D Interconnect Interacts with PDM

Notice that the assembly versioning works as if I had modified any other SOLIDWORKS assembly in context – shown here as Version 2/2. 

I opened and modified the round cover plate.ipt file on its own to see if the assembly would update; that didn’t happen. When I opened the round cover plate.ipt and edited it by adding a hole, the result was a brand new SOLIDWORKS file. Here’s the ipt file before modification (left) and after modification (right). Notice the new round cover plate.sldprt file in the file list.

How SOLIDWORKS 2017 3D Interconnect Interacts with PDM   How SOLIDWORKS 2017 3D Interconnect Interacts with PDM

Once we understand that 3D Interconnect appears to give us a virtual component, predicting the external reference behavior is more straightforward. The Bill Of Material tab shows the component.

The Contains tab also functions as expected. However, I’ll note that the right mouse button menu is missing the “Browse to” option for the virtual component (left) but not the source ipt file (right): 

How SOLIDWORKS 2017 3D Interconnect Interacts with PDM   How SOLIDWORKS 2017 3D Interconnect Interacts with PDM

Unfortunately, the Where Used information for the ipt is not helpful: 

How SOLIDWORKS 2017 3D Interconnect Interacts with PDM

Key Takeaways:

In conclusion, right now there’s no difference in behavior between virtual components and those components added via 3D Interconnect – which I think is greatAs with all brand new features (this one is still in beta), they will change and improve with time.

We’ll keep you up to date on improvements with the interaction between 3D Interconnect and PDM, but in the meantime, here's everything you need to know about SOLIDWORKS 2017 3D Interconnect.