Question about CAD File Structure / Setup

Hi all,

Been a while since I’ve posted or answered anything on here, I have been one of the lucky ones who completed University and was offered a job straight away. I’ve been in the job now for about 18 months and enjoying the challenges thrown at me on a daily basis. One of my current tasks is to re organise the file structure for our CAD directory.
Our company is nationwide in Australia, and the Research and Development team is effectively 6 or 7 individuals. We would be the only few with access to the CAD files and release PDF versions to the rest of the company’s sites for their reference. Currently we use AutoCAD making all our drawings in 2D, we have slowly began to build all our products in Solid Works, and only now are they willing to embrace the 3D revolution and have our drawings constructed using 3D data most likely from Solid Works, unless we upgrade.

These questions are posted for people in mid-size companies, but open for all to provide input.
What sort of filing system are people / companies using to keep track of and manage part, assembly, and drawing files?

We have a directory called “CAD Files” and inside that “SWModels” then the branch begins with separate folders for Parts, Assemblies and Drawings. To me that sounds very clumsy and very much unfinished especially when we are talking about 5 different types of products and then splitting them up to different styles or sub types.

What are peoples thought about setting up a better CAD file structure?

What are other people / companies using?

What are other people / companies experiences with this?

I am really looking forward to hearing what other people have to say about this.


Regarding structure: Any structure is only going to be effective if everyone subscribes to it.

I would certainly organize by project name first and then data type second IE Project1\Datatype\DATED_REVISION.FILE

We use Pro E’s Windchill/Intralink package which is a much larger scale content management system. It’s painfully clumsy to use, but their are a lot of advantages when working with large teams, IE version history, file check in/check out (no one can overwrite my file that I just spent 8 hours working on) and it is effective for managing and searching through large product and component databases.

Usually in a small firm you can mange just by having things on a server and maintaining local copies, but as you grow or the team changes it becomes challenging. Especially when one person who created a file leaves the company and then you have to spend a full day sifting through data to try and find an old product document.

YES for some reason i found this part of my job surprisingly gratifying. If your using Solidworks be ready to open up a mean ole can of worms. The problem arises with references to parts, drawings, and assemblies. I agree that at first that breakdown of parts is pretty clumsy, but it does guarantee that any references made between the files can be found. Trust me trying to open a 200 part document that all of a sudden can’t find the fasteners you put in it is enough to try to add a speed hole to your head. Our place organized files in this way Job Number/Solidworks Database/and then parts, assemblies, and drawings. It worked most of the time but had some drawbacks.

Just my two cents.