Which SOLIDWORKS PDM License Type is Right for Me?

Does your Product Development team spend a lot of time providing information to colleagues on other teams already available in PDM? Converting files? Printing files? Emails, phone calls, and meetings to give product development updates or answer questions about part usage, BOMs, or metadata? Do they compile vaulted product info in another format outside your file vault?

PDM extending permissions to everyone

This is incredibly common. The negative consequences are two-fold. On the one hand, these distractions cost valuable engineering time. On the other, sharing information outside the vault decouples it from the data governance measures that keep it clean and secure.

To solve this, SOLIDWORKS PDM provides licenses that can extend specific permissions and capabilities to anyone who needs them, from the engineering team to customer service, accounting, and the shop floor.

Keeping PDM users aligned with the appropriate license type can alleviate busy work and reduce the time spent with requests from other departments. Granting specific access to individuals in other departments helps streamline the development of your products and optimize workflows across the entire organization.

You may be wondering which license type is most suitable for my organization? To help you assess which blend of PDM licenses are most suitable for your team, we have outlined the differences between each type below:


This license type (available in packs of five) allows users to search, preview, and print files in the PDM vault. While they cannot add, edit, or convert files, they have access to search cards and data cards to find files, BOMs, and corresponding metadata. Viewers can also transition files through workflows, receive automatic notifications, and access measure and markup tools, making it a good fit for stakeholders who are not CAD users.

SOLIDWORKS PDM viewer license


Contributors have all the capabilities of Viewers, but they can also add and edit non-CAD files like PDF, Word, Excel, or XML documents that support the product definition. While they cannot open CAD files in their native application, they can convert them to another format and check CAD files in and out again to update data card values.

SOLIDWORKS PDM Contributor license


Typically, the number of Editor licenses used is equal to the number of CAD users in the organization. Editors have all the capabilities of Contributors but can create and edit CAD files in their native application using an add-in that connects to PDM.

SOLIDWORKS PDM Editor license

NOTE: any of these license types’ permissions can be further restricted by the PDM Administrator on a user or group basis.

Processor Site License (PSL): PSLs are licenses (bundled in packs of 25, 50, 100, or 200) that can be configured to grant any combination of permissions to specific users or groups, irrespective of the above license types, expanding flexibility for organizations with complex business processes that require varying degrees of participation across teams and departments.

PDM Licenses Matrix:


Examples of Metadata Viewers Will Benefit From:

  • Bills of Materials
  • Where Used
  • Contains
  • File History
  • File Comments
  • Dimensions
  • Material
  • Cost
  • Created By
  • Workflow Status
  • Part Numbers
  • Descriptions
  • Make/Buy/Vendor
  • Weight
PDM metadata

Examples of Non-CAD Files Contributors May Want to Add:

  • Regulatory/compliance documents
  • Installation Instructions
  • Service Information
  • Market analysis
  • Quotes
  • Labels
  • Warranty
  • Project Cover Sheets

Contact Us

With the right combination of SOLIDWORKS PDM licenses on your team, product developers can stay focused with fewer distractions and spend more time developing products, allowing the rest of your team access to the information they need at their fingertips.

Still need help? Contact us, and GSC’s team of experts can assist you and determine the best license type for everyone on your team.

Want More?

Interested in learning more about SOLIDWORKS PDM, check out these resources below:

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Meet the Author

Chris Fortin

Chris started in the CAD industry in 2004 after graduating from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. He’s worked with technical publications, CAD management, data migration, workflow automation, reporting, content management, ERP, PDM implementation, PDM administration, and a bevy of other projects. Chris has developed a passion for creating lean business processes, enhancing data integrity, and generating business intelligence that drives continuous improvement. When it’s time to recharge, Chris can be found hiking in the woods or somewhere on the water.

view all posts by Chris Fortin

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