SOLIDWORKS PDM and Toolbox: Configuring and Updating

Article by Sawyer Gara updated March 8, 2024


Amongst the other key benefits of using a Data Management System like SOLIDWORKS PDM is getting to a single source of truth for not just your CAD Data, but any other file you may want to store in your vault. This is no different for your SOLIDWORKS Toolbox data for all of the preconfigured nuts, bolts, or other hardware you may be using inside of your SOLIDWORKS Designs. Typically, we see organizations have a new copy of the Toolbox on every SOLIDWORKS User’s machine or an uncontrolled shared version sitting on the network drive.

Did you know that you can utilize SOLIDWORKS PDM to control access and changes to the SOLIDWORKS Toolbox and therefore edge ever closer to a single source of truth?

What is the SOLIDWORKS Toolbox?

The SOLIDWORKS Toolbox is the fully integrated library of standard parts that is included with every seat of SOLIDWORKS Professional and SOLIDWORKS Premium. The Toolbox allows a SOLIDWORKS user to easily select a type of component (nuts, bolts, screws, etc.), the standard, and sizing to then drag and drop the model into a SOLIDWORKS assembly. The Toolbox helps to alleviate the stress of finding a 3D Model online, hoping that is the correct size, and having to keep track of 15 duplicates of the same exact fastener. The SOLIDWORKS Toolbox supports many international standards and includes more than just fasteners such as cams, gears, and inserts. Even better is that the Toolbox can be fully customized to include part numbers, descriptions, or any other custom property needed.

SOLIDWORKS Toolbox Configuration Tool

Controlling the Toolbox in SOLIDWORKS PDM

The most important step to start controlling the Toolbox in PDM is to make sure the actual toolbox files are somewhere in the Vault. By default, the Toolbox files are stored in C:\SOLIDWORKS Data 20XX. Further within this directory is the Toolbox database but we will want to copy the entirety of the SOLIDWORKS Data folder and paste it somewhere in our vault. I would recommend giving it its own “Toolbox” folder within a Libraries directory so it is easy to distinguish and apply permissions to. With the files in the Vault, someone with relevant permissions can check them in.

SOLIDWORKS Toolbox Files to Copy

The remainder of the setup requires the SOLIDWORKS PDM Administration tool to complete. After logging into the Vault, navigate to the SOLIDWORKS Section, and then double-click on Toolbox to open the Toolbox Settings. There are not many options that need to be changed but it is important to verify they are set correctly. First, check on the “Manage SOLIDWORKS Toolbox in the Vault” option. This option ensures complete Toolbox and PDM integration. Then verify the Toolbox root folder is pointing to the PDM Vault location where we copied all the files previously and determine whether you want permissions to be for the logged-in user or for a static login. After hitting okay, we are 90% of the way there! The last thing to do within the Administration Tool is to go into the cache options for the Toolbox folder and ensure a refresh during log-in. This ensures that every user sees the most up-to-date Toolbox information each time they log in and won’t have to refresh manually.

PDM Administration Toolbox Settings

Pointing SOLIDWORKS to Toolbox Location

Within SOLIDWORKS, the final step is to update the System Options to look for the Toolbox directory within the PDM Vault rather than the default location when installing SOLIDWORKS. A SOLIDWORKS user can go to System Options and then the Hole Wizard/Toolbox section. All that is needed is to verify the directory is pointed to the vaulted Toolbox. For companies who utilized SOLIDWORKS Administration Images for installs or upgrades, this directory can be stored in the image to make the deployment seamless across the organization. Alternatively, Save/Restore Settings can be used to easily copy the file locations across multiple user machines.

SOLIDWORKS Toolbox System Options

How to Update the SOLIDWORKS Toolbox

Each time you upgrade your SOLIDWORKS CAD and PDM, you’ll want to make sure that the Toolbox information gets updated as well. Fortunately, the process is fairly straightforward and is taken care of when upgrading SOLIDWORKS itself. Arguably the most important step is to first ensure that every file is checked into the PDM Vault and nothing is checked out. If for some reason files are checked out by another user and are tied to the Toolbox, the update will fail. After verifying nothing is checked out, a user with relevant permissions to do the upgrade will then check out the swbrowser.sldedb Toolbox Database file.

Toolbox Database File Check In

By checking this file out, the toolbox can be upgraded and will not be blocked by permission errors. At this point, the user who checked out the Toolbox Database can continue with a SOLIDWORKS upgrade as normal and the installation manager will take the existing vaulted Toolbox and upgrade it alongside SOLIDWORKS CAD. With the upgrade complete, the database can be checked back in and the rest of the team can upgrade SOLIDWORKS.

If you have any additional questions about configuring SOLIDWORKS PDM and the SOLIDWORKS Toolbox to work together, Contact Us and we’ll be happy to assist.

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Sawyer Gara

Sawyer is a SOLIDWORKS certified Elite Application Engineer working out of Bedminster, New Jersey. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology and has almost a decade of experience in the SOLIDWORKS and 3DEXPERIENCE Design Ecosystem.