5 Tips to Turn CAD Files from Chaos to Orders

File Management

Many designers are plagued by managing CAD files when working on a complex project or dealing with multiple tasks at the same time. As you can see, the types of a large amount of files are varied, such as parts, assemblies, drawings, etc., and are stored in different folders and sometimes used in multiple projects. Besides, you also need to share the files and edit the ones designed by others because seldom people work in a vacuum today.

So, you may come across the following questions from time to time:

  • How to deploy the files to easily find the one I need?
  • How to make sure that the components in an assembly are correct when their names are not unique?
  • How to ensure that my design files get timely back up and I won’t mix them up?
  • And how to share my files without any loss and keep them updated?

Today I am going to answer those questions and share with you 5 tips about file management, to help you well organize CAD data with ease. Let’s have a look.

1. Before design, set the working folder for your project

I believe you are always bothered by setting the saving and loading paths for different projects. So, before starting your design, I suggest you create a working folder for each project, which will be the default path to save or load the CAD files in that project. You can now do so in ZW3D 2020, to quickly save and access the part or assembly you need, largely reducing your time to search.

Figure 1. Set working folder for a new project
Figure 1. Set the working folder for a new project

2. Choose a suitable format for objects

When saving objects, some of you may prefer multi-object file, which includes different types of objects; while others get used to the single one, which saves only one object. You can choose how to save your files according to your actual needs.

Figure 2. The multi-object file includes parts, assemblies and other CAD data belonging to the model
Figure 2. The multi-object file includes parts, assemblies and other CAD data belonging to the model

ZW3D can satisfy both of your needs. Its default file format *.z3 is for multi-object files, which contain parts, assemblies, drawings and CAM plans, enabling you to easily manage all data for one project in one file. You can also save one object in one file by setting in the Configuration form. If there are too many files for one project, I would recommend you to use part number as their names. Then you can find the file you want quickly.

Figure 3. The option of One object per file
Figure 3. The option of One object per file

3. Backup your files smartly

Design changes are so common that the importance of backing up your files cannot be overemphasized. However, the backup work can be tedious, let alone the possibility of forgetting to do so.

In ZW3D 2020, it’s no longer a burden. First, set a suitable number of max file revisions to backup in Configuration form, which decides how many backup files will be saved. Then, set the backup folder and I suggest you save backup files in the same path as the original one. After that, it’s more convenient to get the older versions of a file.

Figure 4. Set options of backup files
Figure 4. Set options of backup files

During the design process, a new backup file will be automatically generated every time you save the original file.

Figure 5. Original file and backup files
Figure 5. The original file and backup files

What will happen when the number of backup files reaches the maximum? The earliest version will be deleted automatically, to make sure that the latest one can be saved successfully. Of course, you can manually delete the unneeded backup files to free your storage space.

4. Forget to backup work? The system will back you up

Except for the aforementioned way, the system can also back up your files automatically, but the difference is that it works only for the first saving in a day. When you create a new file in ZW3D 2020 (eg: Support.z3) and save it, its backup file (named Support.z3.z3bak in the below case) will be generated automatically and saved as a hidden file in the same file folder. If you manually change the file suffix from “.z3.z3bak” to ”.z3”, then this file can work as a normal one.

Figure 6. System backup file
Figure 6. System backup file

5. Pack the project files for sharing

When tackling a big project or complex product design with your team members, file sharing is a must undoubtedly. To share correct and complete files can be a challenge to many of you. My recommendation is to pack up all the things needed to share.

In ZW3D 2020, you can go to File menu—> Pack function, and all related files of the project including components, drawings, referenced files and so on, can be packed together into one zip file. So all of the needed files for your team members are well organized in one package.

Figure 7. Choose the files you need when packing
Figure 7. Choose the files you need when packing

So far, I have shared 5 tips about file management with you to easily manage complicated projects and increase work efficiency. I believe you now have a deeper understanding of file creation, storage, backup and sharing.

In ZW3D 2020, file management tools have been upgraded to become much friendlier. Why not try the above tips in it by yourself?

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