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The Best Way to Migrate CAD Files to PLM

If you’re thinking about starting a new PLM system, you probably have a million questions. One of the hardest tasks revolves around getting your CAD files correctly into your PLM software. We know how tedious and complicated this process is, so we put together this expert guide.

Here, we’ll walk you through the best ways to migrate CAD files into a PLM system. We’ll provide definitions and tips that you’ll need in order to get the best results.

What Is PLM?

A Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system is a way to centralize different parts and systems in your engineering or manufacturing company. A common example of a PLM system is something set up on SAP — it’s a way to organize parts and put a ton of information into a shared file.

People like to use PLM systems for a number of reasons. For one, it’s a great way to share information with people across your company. In addition, you can put a ton of information together for each specific SKU or part in your company.

Every department from logistics to planning and engineering can use the same PLM system.

Example of PLM

This is a complicated idea, so how about an example? We recently worked with a company to help them migrate most of their CAD files to a new PLM system so they could cut out a lot of bottlenecks. One of their parts was a plastics blender used in an injection molding application.

Looking at the blender file on the PLM software gave so much data:

  • Background of the file
  • Every part of the BOM (plus, those were linked to other PLM files for each specific part)
  • Total cost and lead time
  • Previous sales data of that plastics blender (which companies bought it, when they were sold, etc)
  • How many SKUs were currently in inventory for that blender
  • Vendors who manufacture parts of the blender that are purchased and installed in-house
  • Full drawing and assembly files for this SKU

The list goes on and on. An easy way to think about it is that a PLM system is a cheat sheet for every SKU that you make or purchase.

Tips to Migrate CAD Files to PLM

A big part of any PLM system is CAD. Every SKU in your PLM system should have manufacturing drawings and 3D CAD models linked to the PLM file to keep things simple. This involves taking all of your existing CAD files and pushing them through to your PLM system.

How can you migrate these CAD files to PLM? Here are some tips to keep in mind.

Avoid Automatic Migration Software

First and foremost, we always suggest avoiding software that claims to automatically migrate your CAD files to a PLM system. This software can be very dangerous, it can waste your time, and it can steal your intellectual property.

We heard about a company that tried to automate the process, then the CAD files went to random parts in their PLM. They spent twice as long going through their list of parts and fixing the CAD mistakes.

It’s always best to manually do this process.

engineer or architectural project, two engineering or architecture discussing and working on blueprint with architect equipment, Construction concept.

A pair of outsourced engineers check for consistency in their residential drawing package before uploading the CAD files into PLM.

Check for Accuracy and Consistency in Each Part

As you’re uploading CAD files into your PLM software, check the drawings. You want to ensure every drawing is accurate, up-to-date, and consistent. If you went through a few company merges or acquisitions over the years, make sure every drawing has your current company’s name on the title block.

It’s a good time to make your drawings uniform in terms of the line types, borders, and verbiage used.

Double-Check Each BOM

The Bills of Materials (BOMs) are one of the most important parts of your PLM system. An accurate BOM will have the right part numbers and quantities, at a minimum. You might also add vendor information and sourcing notes to make purchasing easier.

Uploading an incorrect BOM will lead to problems later as you go to build this SKU. You’ll spend valuable time correcting the PLM file when you don’t have extra time to spare. This is why you should always do the work ahead of time.

Ask Yourself, Do You Need this Part Anymore?

If your company has old, legacy parts, you might not need to upload them. We suggest considering whether or not every part needs to be uploaded into your PLM system. Uploading obsolete parts can lead to confusion in the future, and it will waste your time today.

Think of this process like cleaning your home — if you haven’t worn that t-shirt in a few years, maybe it’s time to get rid of it.

Clear Up Any Issues Ahead of Time

Just as a blanket statement, you should spend time during the migration to clear up any potential issues. This could refer to drawings that are wrong, BOMs that are out of date, or vendor information that’s missing.

Again, doing this work ahead of time will avoid wasting time during your next build.

Use Existing Manufacturing Quotes for Information

If you need a good source for valuable PLM information, look into manufacturing quotes. This includes quotes you sent to clients, as well as quotes you received from vendors. Having accurate pricing is paramount, and it’s important that you put all of this information into the PLM system.

Engineer working with database for digital data design or cyberspace network and connection. Information science system analysis, planning and development. Big data program software management concept

An outsource engineer spends time setting up a PLM structure to help with uniformity across the system.

Use the Same PLM Structure for Each Part/ Assembly

Your PLM software will allow you to structure each part and file differently. We suggest staying consistent across the board. Use the same naming convention, file structure, and information types in every posting.

This uniformity makes it easier for people to pull up pertinent information and find it in less time.

Outsource the Work

Yes, it’s a lot of work to migrate CAD files and information into a PLM system. To save you a lot of headaches, time, and money, you should really consider outsourcing this work. Bringing in an outside team of engineers to tackle the migration will free up your engineers’ time so you can work on money-making projects while we tackle the monotony of setting up a PLM system for you.

At CAD/CAM Services, we can handle the PLM setup, and we can also provide professional-grade 2D and 3D CAD files for your projects.


You just learned a few tips that should help you migrate your CAD files into your new PLM system. Once you get started, you’ll realize how much work truly goes into setting up a PLM system. To get faster, less expensive results, outsource the work to CAD/CAM Services. We are a full-service engineering team that can handle any CAD task that you might have. Get a free quote today.

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