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Why Onshape, why not this other CAD software?

Ste_WilsonSte_Wilson Member Posts: 104 EDU
edited April 1 in General
I like Onshape.  I think it's brill, however....
I'm trying to get my college to go Onshape, but...one team member has said, 'What about Solid Works 3D Experience?!?!' which seems to be solidworks online experience.  I've not looked at it too closely yet.  Does anyone have any experience with it?
So...umm...what about Solid works 3d Experience?  How does it compare?  Why Onshape? (I WANT to use onshape!!!)
Any insights, reasons, comparisons, and marketing gratefully received.



  • billy2billy2 Member, OS Professional, Mentor, Developers, User Group Leader Posts: 1,799 PRO
    The main reason, the cloud.

    No other cad is based on this newer compute paradigm and they're stuck with filed base systems.

    As time goes on.... this is going to prove fatal and limiting to their platforms.

  • matthew_mueller537matthew_mueller537 Member, Simulation EVP Posts: 17 EDU
    edited April 1
    Hi @Ste_Wilson ,

    The fundamental difference is that Onshape is cloud native, built from the ground up to take full advantage of cloud computing technology and runs perfectly well on any device (even Chrome books) with an internet connection, providing capabilities like simultaneous editing and agile design processes like branching and merging you won't find in any other platform. We like to say that 3D experience (or Fusion 360) are cloud enabled using a "thick client" approach, meaning you still need a downloaded app on your computer (3D experience only works on Windows machines) that need to be fairly powerful and there is no simultaneous editing like Onshape.

    This talk from Onshape live last year is fairly technical but does a great job of explaining the fundamental differences from a technical standpoint. We see industry going in this direction, taking advantage of the cloud to accelerate innovation, but especially in Education, the clearest value proposition is the time it takes for students to get started. Good luck making sure all student's computers meet certain specifications and having them install and activate the license for the app. Alternatively, send them to www.onshape.com/edu and everyone has an account and is modeling in minutes.

    Happy to address any more specific questions.


  • john_mcclaryjohn_mcclary Member, Developers Posts: 3,693 PRO
    At its core, Onshape is more than just a cloud based version of 'any comparable cad package' 

    It is a built-in solution for many aspects of collaboration and development. What Onshape brings to the table other software can potentially do, but none of them do it for free out of the box with zero setup or additional maintenance subscriptions. 

    Managing software licenses, grating/revoking access to one file or the entire company can be done in mere seconds. 

    The support team and developers behind Onshape respond and close thier tickets very efficiently and throughly. Sometimes fixing major bugs minutes after discovering them. (instantly for all users at the same time). Their support staff will even offer suggestions on better modeling strategies while working your ticket. They don't have to do that, but they do.

    Community support is also very effective since a document can be shared with everyone with a link. Then you could have hundreds of people assisting you as well. 

    Needing to maintain and replace bleeding edge expnsive computers to keep up with the software's requirements is not an issue since it runs in a browser, or a tablet.

    You don't need to buy or maintain a server to host your files or PDM suite. You don't need to double down on that for offsite data backups and recovery. 

    Onshape has fewer bugs and crashes than any systems I've used before.

    I can go on for hours. But it isn't glaringly obvious how much better it is until you've had to experience both systems for a few years in the field on a day to day basis. Nobody likes changing systems. But you should at least give them all a good try before making a final call. 
  • john_mcclaryjohn_mcclary Member, Developers Posts: 3,693 PRO
    edited April 1
    I suppose in all seriousness, one of the disadvantages to not using SolidWorks or Inventor would be the lack of education for fixing / maintaining a cad station, and troubleshooting file references and stress management. Which are extremely critical skills if a company you go to is stuck on an old system.
  • bryan_lagrangebryan_lagrange Member, User Group Leader Posts: 538 ✭✭✭✭
    What I am hearing on other forums, the little dirty secret on Solid works 3d Experience is storage. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe you are only given a certain amount and have to pay extra for more if needed. As far as I know Onshape doesn't have that limitation. 
    Bryan Lagrange
    Twitter: @BryanLAGdesign

  • adrian_vlzkzadrian_vlzkz Member Posts: 172 PRO
    edited April 1
    As User you can start using Onshape in a minute, on any device, from anywhere. I don't believe that would be true of any other tool.
    Adrian V. | Onshape Ambassador
    CAD Engineering Manager
  • nick_papageorge073nick_papageorge073 Member Posts: 178 PRO
    edited April 4
    This is my experience compared to Creo, which is the most mature system of all I believe, having its roots in the early 80's. And probably the most popular amongst mid to large size companies. I have not used the SW 3DS, so can't comment directly to that.

    If you are a small company doing your own IT, its a life saver not having to deal with licensing, expired licensing, license renewal, borrowing a license to work from home, logging in from home to your company's VPN to use the license that way, etc. That alone makes it worth it, IMO.

    If you need a PDM solution, its built into OS. Often times that's even a bigger expense on other CAD packages than the core CAD program itself.

    The helpdesk is the best helpdesk I've ever experienced, across any type of product or industry.

    Modelling is very efficient. Designs can be made with fewer features than some other systems.

    Failures in the tree when changes occur are very easy to fix. I was impressed that many times there are very few failures, and when there are failures, the model fails gracefully and you can work through it to fix. Of course this assumes you have a robust modelling strategy, which comes with general CAD experience.

    The only con I've come across thus far in about 1.5 years of use, is it can definitely be slow on larger designs. Enough that it will force you to change your modelling strategy.

    While its true you don't need a fancy computer to run OS, if you a are doing anything complex, you still need a fancy GPU, and a lot of system memory. Usually one doesn't get a high end gaming GPU, 32 or 64 GB of ram, and then get the bottom of the barrel CPU. System builds are typically "balanced". So the computer cost might end up being the same as for a traditional CAD system. Yes, it will run on a $300 laptop from a mass merchandiser, but you won't like it for anything other than simple things.
  • matthew_stacymatthew_stacy Member Posts: 358 PRO
    @Ste_Wilson, collaborative capabilities such as sharing document privileges with individual Onshape users and "link sharing" view-only with ANY individual are hugely powerful.  We can collaborate up and down the supply chain: supply, design, marketing, customer, et al.

    However these capabilities will only bear fruit when Onshape's market share grows.  Hanging out your shingle as an Onshape freelancer is currently a challenging proposition, whereas SW designers are actively sought out.
  • nick_papageorge073nick_papageorge073 Member Posts: 178 PRO
    I misread the first post and thought it said "colleague" rather than "college".

    For a school, its typically one semester of CAD in a mechanical engineering program spread over the 4-5 year program. Its a fairly small part of the overall curriculum. When an employer is looking for a new hire fresh out of college, they know their CAD skills will be very limited, and typically the first few weeks of the new job will be going through CAD training, in whatever software the employer uses. Then the next year will be spent making a lot of mistakes in both CAD and in general part design, with help from co-workers to improve both.

    From a hiring perspective, I don't think it matters what CAD program one was trained on for that single college semester.

    With that in mind, from a school perspective, the ease of setup by the IT staff would be the number one consideration, IMO. In that case, OS is at the top. Zero to install. Works on Win/Mac/Linux/Tablet/Phone. OS also has an education specific version that is really their top tier large corporation version. They made it free for students/colleges/high schools at the start of Corona so its easy for the teachers to use it and monitor their students.
  • eric_pestyeric_pesty Member Posts: 338 PRO
  • brucebartlettbrucebartlett Member, OS Professional, Mentor, User Group Leader Posts: 2,120 PRO
    I don't think it compares at all apart from both being cloud-based MCAD. I think you'd find it'd be a very bad experiance. I'd be pushing very hard to use Onshape.
    Engineer ı Product Designer ı Onshape Consulting Partner
    Twitter: @onshapetricks  & @babart1977   
  • andrew_kleinertandrew_kleinert Member Posts: 43 PRO
    I like Onshape.  I think it's brill, however....
    I'm trying to get my college to go Onshape, but...one team member has said, 'What about Solid Works 3D Experience?!?!' which seems to be solidworks online experience.  I've not looked at it too closely yet.  Does anyone have any experience with it?
    So...umm...what about Solid works 3d Experience?  How does it compare?  Why Onshape? (I WANT to use onshape!!!)
    Any insights, reasons, comparisons, and marketing gratefully received.


    Are you a student or staff?

    If you're a student, consider having a quiet word to your college people and politely tell them that you'll do your projects in Onshape.  You'll be on your own with no support from your college.  Your college will likely tell you that you won't receive any special considerations with marking.  But if you really believe that Onshape is the best MCAD tool in your toolbox, and you're prepared to back yourself, then considering doing it.  Uni / College is for learning.  (But never ever do this without giving the person marking you a heads up first.  If they forbid you, then that's a shame.  But my own experience most academics respect that academia is for learning, and if the request is reasonable (you're not cheating or gaining unfair advantage over your classmates) then it's only a question about how strongly they advise against it, rather than actually forbidding you from doing it)

    If you're a staff member, consider the next frontier of the design industry may very well be teams of people working effectively in a collaborate environment.  Obviously the curriculum would need to support that (eg: some group projects).  I'm obviously an Onshape evangelist here as we all are, but in reality I don't have a good sense about how well the other packages do / don't support collaboration. 

    I think it would be wonderful to see a bunch of graduates of a Design School who work well together / play well together start up a Design Agency and use the collaborative features of a tool like Onshape for their competitive advantage.  It's a very competitive world out there, and starting up an agency is a big ask for graduates, but having a team who can collaborate effectively together might tip the balance in their favour.  It's been happening in the software industry for decades.

  • Ste_WilsonSte_Wilson Member Posts: 104 EDU
    edited April 6
    Thanks for your replies.
    A few new things to think about and some things I already knew :)
    @andrew_kleinert I'm staff, recently started at a new college, I set my old up place using Onshape and they have been happily using that for the last few years and took advantage of the free enterprise edition during covid.  I'm just encountering one or two entrenched objections and want to be able to have my ducks lined up for the next small step in Onshape world domination :)
  • john_mcclaryjohn_mcclary Member, Developers Posts: 3,693 PRO
    Let me know how you win over those 2 entrenched objectors. I have 2 here that have been the sole prevention from letting go of Solidworks completely. 
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