SOLIDWORKS PDM Licenses – What Do I Need?

   By Patricia Bar on May 17, 2022

Given that you need a license to view files, people often wonder what license types are required for their company. Before we can get to how many licenses, you need to understand the differences between the SOLIDWORKS PDM license types.


The first license type that is discussed is the CAD Editor. This license is for the person who uses CAD and needs access to the live vault information all the time.

The second license type is the Contributor license. This license type is for someone who needs to add non-CAD data like test results or manuals or someone who needs to approve a document electronically; think lab techs, publications and managers.

The third license type is the Viewer license, sold in packs of five. This license is meant for people in a company that needs to be able to open a file and look at it or maybe print it. They do not need to add anything to the vault.PDM license types

Now that we’ve discussed that a little, let’s talk about the differences between PDM Standard and PDM Professional licenses.

What’s in those documents? SOLIDWORKS Data Management >>


PDM Standard has licenses included in the additional cost of a SOLIDWORKS Professional or SOLIDWORKS Premium CAD seat. It is one of the add-ins you have purchased and is not sold separately. This license type is a CAD Editor seat, and they are regional licenses. If you buy it in North America, it can only be used in North America. You can also purchase a PDM Contributor license or Viewer license for non-CAD users to see the files in the vault.


PDM Professional has the same types of licenses with subtle differences. First, the CAD Editor and Contributor licenses are called CAD Editor & Web and Contributor & Web. This is because they can be used to access the vault through a web page.

Next, the PDM Professional licenses are all sold individually and are global. This means that you can use PDM with any level of SOLIDWORKS CAD, and they can be shared across regions. Also, for companies that have many users that use different license types, you may be interested in looking into a license type called UL that is sold in packs of twenty-five. With a UL, you do not need to know the exact breakdown of license types because they can be used in any way in a PDM Professional vault.

License count

PDM licenses

How many licenses will you need?

Now that we have discussed the different license types let’s talk about how many. Based on the purpose of a CAD Editor license, you should have a 1-to-1 license match between seats of CAD and a CAD Editor license.

For a Contributor license, I generally recommend that you start with a 3-to-1 ratio of users to a license. This is due to the frequency of typical contributor license users need to be in the vault.

Finally, the viewer licenses, which are only sold in packs of five, can follow the same rules as the contributor, but they can also be more lenient. Essentially, how often does someone who will be using the license need to look at a file in the vault? If it is someone on the assembly line looking at instructions, they may need it all the time. If the user is someone in purchasing that needs to get the bill of materials of an assembly, that license may be used infrequently.

The question I always get at this point is can we add to the licenses if we find out it is not enough? Yes. It is relatively simple to add licenses to an existing PDM license, so don’t sweat getting the numbers exactly right.

Want to learn more? Register for the on-demand webinar “Get to Know SOLIDWORKS PDM!

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Patricia Bar

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