Design, Copy, Repeat


Written by: Bryce Hooper, Application Engineer

The best thing I could hear when I was a designer was “It’s just like this – but with a minor change”. Copying and modifying existing designs should be easy. Thanks to PDM, it’s very easy to duplicate and rename our data before we begin our modifications.


We do this with a tool called “Copy Tree”. Copy Tree is available in both PDM Standard and Professional, though there are some changes in the dialog between the versions as we’ll point out where necessary.

If we are familiar with SOLIDWORKS, we should also be familiar with Pack and Go. The Copy Tree tool is similar in its function, with some stark differences as well. The most important is that Pack and Go isn’t aware of the vault. If your files are in a vault – Pack and Go is not the tool for you.

So our files are in the vault, and we want to make a copy to work on a new set of files.  Where do we begin? We start by selecting the top most file (The assembly or drawing in most cases) and going to Tools > Copy Tree to open the dialog.

Copy Tree Tool

From the resulting screen, we have a whole host of options for our copy. We’ll cover the most vital parts.

On the top of the window you will find a field labeled “Default Destination”.  This will be the new home for your files when we are finished. If we give this a location that doesn’t exist, it will create the folder if able.

Once we have that selected, we can decide which files we want to copy. If only certain files are going to change, we can leave the originals where they are and reference them. We do this by unchecking the “Copy” column in the lower portion of the window.

Additionally, if we decide that we also want to copy drawings, or simulation data, we can by checking the appropriate boxes. We can also choose how we want to copy these files and what versions we want. If we are intending on copying a file as it was originally checked into the vault, we can use the “Referenced” version by setting the appropriate option. If we would like to mimic our Pack and Go options, we could also package our files into a zip. As long as we haven’t done that, we can proceed to configure some more options.

Copy Tool Check Boxes

For all files that we have selected, we can further specify paths and file names for PDM to handle. In small assemblies, it may not be so difficult to rename files individually. In larger lists, it may be more beneficial to do something like adding a prefix/suffix to the filenames or (in PDM Pro) replace them with new serial numbers. When we do this, all affected files will highlight yellow. Further, if we had some other text in the file names that needs to be replaced, we do so here as well. Each of these functions can be done on a global or individual level so don’t feel corralled into using one method or another. You could use all of them if so inclined. In this case it may also be beneficial to familiarize yourself with the display filter to show only specific components or file types. The possibilities here are endless.

The final option to basic operation is to simply check the files in automatically as the wizard finishes. If we decide to do this, we can also decide to what comment we would like to add as these files check in.

Add comment to check-in

Clicking the Copy button will start the wizard and proceed to copy our parts.

Once it finishes, we can modify our new parts and get our work done faster than a complete redesign. Nothing beats using existing data to get your work done ahead of schedule, so keep this in mind as a good way to reuse your data.



DASI Knowledge Base - Tips & Tricks