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New Associations for CAD Documents to Parts in PDMLink


New Associations for CAD Documents to Parts in PDMLink

You can read the Enterprise Product Focus of the Month here also authored by Jack Sullivan and you can also read the Desktop Product Focus of the Month here and the Desktop Tip of the Month here authored by Mark Decraene.

PTC Technical Specialists Newsletter - May 2011

Tip of the Month : New Associations for CAD Documents to Parts in PDMLink

Formerly, CAD documents and Windchill parts could be associated by links that were either active (meaning that the CAD document structure builds the Product Structure and supports passing of attributes between a CAD document its associated part) or passive (meaning that the CAD document is one of possibly several that describe the Windchill part in some fashion).

Currently, association continues to support the “describes” link between a part and its deliverables, which is now referred to as a content association. The former active association is now differentiated into several functional types, depending on whether the association does one or more of the following:

  • Drives the creation of a part usage link, used in creating a product structure for parts (structure link)
  • Passes attributes to the part (attribute link)
  • Provides a CAD model representation of a given part (representation link)

When you perform an associate operation, several possible types of association are available:


This new association (formerly known as Active) enables all functions: driving structure, passing attributes, and representation. In other words, it indicates the primary representation that also drives the structure and the majority of the attributes for the part.

Typical Usage Scenario - driving the Bill of Materials from the CAD assembly.

Contributing Image

This new association combines representation and attribute passing. Although a contributing image does not 'drive' structure, it contributes to the product structure of a parent object. For example, a flexible component (cable) may occur, say, three times in an assembly but routed differently in each case. While Pro/ENGINEER requires separate model files for each routing, these models can be associated to a single part (one having an owner link and two having contributing image links). The resultant product structure would show three occurrences of a single part.

Typical Usage Scenario - MCAD and ECAD files both contribute attributes to the structure.


This new association is only for representation; for example, for copies of the primary CAD representation used in other CAD systems, such as a Pro/ENGINEER CAD part model created from an Associated Topology Bus import of CATIA V5 data. As with the contributing image link, an object with an image link contributes to the parent product structure (but does not pass attributes).

Typical Usage Scenario - Heterogeneous Design-in-Context usage in Pro/ENGINEER

Contributing Content

This association enables the passing of attributes only and does not show in a product structure.

Typical Usage Scenario – Legacy Drawings, IGES/STEP models linked to a WTPart that only need to pass attributes to the WTPart


This association is “passive,” meaning that the CAD document describes the part but does not drive structure, pass attributes, nor provide a representation (that is, it is not a build rule link).

Typical Usage Scenario - Manufacturing objects, process plans, layouts, etc.


An association between a part and the engineering drawing derived from its owner-associated CAD model is automatically created by default upon initial upload. This association is labeled Calculated, and is not a modeled “link” in the database, but is an included association type when CAD documents are collected for actions.

Note: The preference Windchill Workgroup Manager > Serve > Auto Associate > Create Content Links For Drawings allows you to specify whether to create a calculated or content association type upon initial upload of engineering drawings.


Re: New Associations for CAD Documents to Parts in PDMLink

Great Info.

With all these new additional link types available it gets confusing very fast what is used for what.

Thanks for posting it.

Re: New Associations for CAD Documents to Parts in PDMLink

I am presenting Associations topic in June in Boston. Please attend my session June 16th at 5:15 PM

Re: New Associations for CAD Documents to Parts in PDMLink

These Associations work lot better in Windchill 10.1