Onshape is easily the most anticipated CAD program ever, as it has been created by the same people who hit a home run with the very popular and capable SOLIDWORKS, the current market leader among MCAD programs. Investors are betting on a repeat performance, and have invested $64 million in Onshape.
Jon Hirschtick, a founder of SOLIDWORKS, has brought back John McEleney (CEO), Scott Harris (also a founder of SOLIDWORKS and Onshape VP of User Experience), David Corcoran (VP R&D), Michael Lauer (CTO) and Ilya Mirman (VP Marketing). Dan Shore (CFO) joins Onshape from Harvard University where he was vice president for finance and CFO.
Onshape is a 3D mechanical design application
Onshape can be used to create mechanical parts and assemblies.
- Uses Parasolid kernel.
- History-based and (limited) direct editing.
- Parametric, uses D-Cubed technology.
Unlike most other MCAD programs:
- Onshape requires no installation, no download. You just sign up for an account and start using it with your Internet browser (anything but Internet Explorer, at the time of this writing).
- Onshape runs on the cloud.
-User is not tied to a desktop workstation
-No workstation necessary. Computing, graphics processing and storage are all done on the cloud. Computing cores are assigned as needed.
-Can be used on most any computer or mobile device, such as iPads and Android tablets. It will work on iPhones and other smart phones, though CAD users are not likely to use small screens for extended periods
-Updates are handled automatically and are seamless to the user.
- Data is stored on the cloud.
-Accessible from any location, any device.
- Users can work together simultaneously on a design.
-Single shareable document. No versioning, no check-out/check-in. Document management not needed.
-User can go off a design tangent. Onshape claims it can merge the tangent design with the current one.
- It’s free.
-Up to 5 “active documents” at one time (see pricing plans below).
- No reseller network.
It is NOT a mature MCAD solution
Onshape cannot match SOLIDWORKS, Inventor, Creo, Solid Edge or similar robust, mature MCAD programs in capabilities and features. These existing solutions have had years to develop. Onshape is only a beta, say its creators. It may have been launched to satisfy a self-imposed deadline. Onshape creators may have realized that coming out with a complete, robust solution would take too long and it was better to show and test viability of its web/cloud/mobile with basic modeling.
What Onshape CAN'T do
- It cannot do complex surfacing or organic shapes, such as used in industrial design and consumer products, and automotive styling
- 2D drafting and documentation is not yet available– so you can’t make drawings
- Sub division modeling
- Stress, thermal or other analyses.
What Onshape CAN do
- Solid modeling
- It can model 3D parts, as long as they are prismatic. This includes most parts that will be machined.
- It can be used alongside another MCAD program, as it can read their files, either natively or by translation.
- Large assemblies.
Onshape works only with an Internet connection. If you are not online, Onshape is unusable. There is no offline mode.
Early reports and light use have not had a problem with latency, an annoying characteristic of cloud-based applications. Onshape seems to be snappy, able to keep up with users’ demands. Onshape claims “workstation level performance” and early user reports seem to confirm this.
The most directly competing product is Autodesk Fusion 360 about , which also uses the cloud and operates on various devices. Fusion 360 has more modeling tools than Onshape. Fusion 360 installs on the local device, unlike Onshape, which requires no installation. You can only get Fusion 360 for free if you are in school or in a startup, otherwise it will cost a minimum of $40/month (discounted to $25/month with annual contract).
Onshape has been available since Monday, March 9, 2015. Company says it is a beta release, but product is usable. Official release date has not been announced.
-Only five active private documents at one time.
-Unlimited public documents.
-You can manage an unlimited amount of private documents by controlling their active/inactive status, keeping most of them inactive, and making them active when needed
- Professional, $100/month
- Unlimited private active documents.
- Enterprise, for large deployments in one company (price TBD).
CAD users will wonder what active, private documents are. Some definitions are in order:
A document can be an assembly with many parts. The free plan lets users create any number of documents. Documents can be private (only you can use them) or public (shared with all Onshape users).
For more information