Who Printed This SOLIDWORKS Drawing? And When? And Where is it Stored?

Article by Jim Peltier, CSWE updated August 24, 2013


With computers, file management is comparatively easy to real life. Windows can tell you with the timestamp how old a file is, which makes finding the newer file easy. All the files are stored in logical places and it’s easy to do a search for a specific filename. With PDM, you can get even more information about a file. Of course, when you go to print this drawing, all that organization goes out the window. You can’t right-click on a piece of paper to get its properties (and if trying to right-click on a piece of paper is your first instinct, you’re spending too much time on the computer). If only there was a way to do this…

Oh, but there is!

As you know from reading our blogs, you can insert a note in a drawing and link it to a custom property, or automatically populate portions of your titleblock. These can easily communicate information necessary to manufacture the part on the drawing, but they do nothing to help with document management. But what if I wanted my printed drawing to show things like the date, the filepath, the last person to make a change? For example in the figure below the vertical line of text ‘PRINTED ON 2013-08-22 BY jpeltier C:\Users\jpeltier\Desktop\Draw1’ denotes when the document was printed, by whom, and where the document is located on disc.

PRINTED ON 2013-08-22 BY jpeltier C:\Users\jpeltier\Desktop\Draw1

PRINTED ON info added

Having that information on the drawing would be ideal, but typing that out manually every time would be a pain! Instead, I can add the note to my titleblock and use certain SolidWorks properties to control the fields that appear. Behold:

SOLIDWORKS Intelligent Title Block

SOLIDWORKS Intelligent Title Block

Afterwards, it’s just a matter of formatting the note to put it in a less intrusive location. Now, people on the shop floor know where the file is stored, when it was printed, and who the last person to save it was (and by extension, who to chase after for missing dimensions).

Something worth mentioning is that the format of the properties SW-Short Date(Short Date) and SW-Long Date(Long Date) are driven by your Windows settings. If you use DD/MM/YY, and your colleague uses MM/DD/YY, then you could run into problems. It’s best to standardize these types of things. I always recommend YYYY-MM-DD (ISO format) because there’s absolutely no ambiguity, and the last thing you want on an engineering drawing is ambiguity.

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Jim Peltier, CSWE

Jim has been using SolidWorks since 2001, and has spent most of that time working in the design of industrial automated manufacturing equipment. He has been working as an Applications Expert at Javelin Technologies in Oakville, Ontario since July 2012 and is a Certified SolidWorks Expert (CSWE).