Smart manufacturing promises to provide significant increases in productivity and effectiveness of manufacturing systems by better connecting the data from people, processes, and things. However, there is no uniform, generalized method for deploying linked-data concepts to the manufacturing domain. The literature describes and commercial vendors offer centralized data-repository solutions, but these types of approaches quickly breakdown under the intense burden of managing and reconciling all the data flowing in and out of the various repositories across the product lifecycle. In this paper, we introduce a method for linking and tracing data throughout the product lifecycle using graphs to form digital threads. We describe a prototype implementation of the method and a case study to demonstrate an information round-trip for a product assembly between the design, manufacturing, and quality domains of the product lifecycle. The expected impact from this novel, standards-based, linked-data method is the ability to use digital threads to provide data, system, and viewpoint interoperability in the deployment of smart manufacturing to realize industry’s $30 Billion annual opportunity.