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entry level / hobbyist SKU


I *love* Onshape.  One of my clients (professionally, I'm a consulting electrical engineer) used Onshape for their mechanical work in their product, and so when I bought an accursed 3D printer, my go-to for 'well, huh, what should I try out?' was Onshape.  I have never looked back and I evangelize it to anyone who will listen.  It is absolutely a game-changing technology for me to have gone from 'maybe I should try this?' to being able to constrain sketches in literally 30 seconds, on my little weird Linux laptop, no downloads, no nothing.

I love Onshape so much that I actually really want to pay y'all money for it.  The problem is that nobody out there is stupid enough to pay me money to professionally design mechanical objects!  I am probably a good electrical engineer but truly nobody should pay me to make plastic or metal for them.  So most of the work I do is open source and I just upload it to Printables right after -- which means that $125/mo is both quite expensive for 'I love it and want to support it', and also gets me almost nothing (I don't need to make any of my models private!).  The professional SKU, at $210/mo, does get me some stuff I want -- render studio, PCB studio, simulation -- but that is even more of a price point that I just cannot justify.

I really really want to pay y'all for it.  Here are some things I would like in exchange for my money:
  • I think my account is presumably grandfathered in (when I signed up, commercial use was allowed, and I didn't get any indication of a change of terms of use), but it would be nice for new users to be able to sell teeny amounts of stuff at, like, maker faires and on Etsy and stuff.
  • I would like to get a small amount of simulation credit per month or something to mess around with, and be able to pay as I go for more.
  • I would like to get a small amount of render credit per month or something to mess around with, and be able to pay as I go for more.
  • I would like to have PCB studio access (perhaps limited to KiCad instead of Altium or something?).
  • I would like to know that I support a service that I really enjoy using and that makes my life meaningfully better!
  • I would like to have a token commitment that Onshape is interested in supporting this market at least to some degree.
I'm not really sure how much I would be willing to pay for it.  I dunno, like, I'd happily pay $20/mo for it?  That seems within my 'fun budget'?  That's a roll of PLA a month, which is more PLA than I actually use.  I guess it does not seem like much on the enterprise sales scale of things, but there are a *lot* of makers out there who are buying 3D printers, and 3D printers are getting so much less bad these days.  It sort of seems like there's a market for tools that are less bad, too.

N.B.: I'm always happy to chat about this / be a market research guinea pig if you prefer to talk in private rather than on a forum.

always dreaming about a world in which companies look for people who want to buy things sustainably for a long time, rather than looking for 10x year over year...


  • Ste_WilsonSte_Wilson Member Posts: 203 EDU
    That all sounds like good idea!

  • fstfst Member Posts: 44 ✭✭
    edited October 2023
    Agreed, there is imho a price tier missing - full featured for hobbyists. Particularly the CAM functionality would be highly interesting for me - and something worth to pay for. But $2500 per year isn't sustainable without making money from it.
    The other option would be to significantly lower the prices for the commercial version. Twenty times more paying customers with one tenth of the price is still twice as much money.
    Currently many content creators work on bringing Onshape to the masses. But I guess the conversion rate of the typical audience towards paying customers is marginal, because there simply isn't a realistically priced tier these people could upgrade to.
  • michael3424michael3424 Member Posts: 676 ✭✭✭✭
    I, too, would be willing to pay for a hobbyist tier, preferably one that allows a small amount of profit to be made, say less than $10k/year.  I was paying $400+ maintenance for Alibre and still use that for paid jobs but would be moren happy to pay that amount to Onshape for a hobbyist tier.

    It seems like Onshape is not interested in that particular market.  That's not too surprising given how cheap most hobbyists are and how whiny they can be about things like cloud computing or even paying for software upgrades, like rendering or CAM.
  • joshua_wise822joshua_wise822 Member Posts: 7
    Yeah, we hobbyists are a fickle bunch.  The funny thing is that I absolutely refuse to buy any of the cloud Adobe products, and I am such a luddite that I am probably going to buy an iPhone instead of a Pixel to avoid being tempted into using AI stuff on my photos!  But for some reason I have absolutely no problem with Onshape being cloudy.  Probably I'm ok with it because it does have tangible benefits for me -- I was absolutely shocked by the fact that I could start doing meaningful CAD work in Firefox on my weird Linux laptop with an integrated GPU.

    I would be happy to have my support structure be 'forums only' (or 'one support ticket a year'), to keep people like me from using more than my money's worth in support bandwidth :-)

    There are a lot of reasonable mitigations for some of these.  But for now, the best I can do is, every time the Onshape sales folks call me (usually once a quarter...), answer 'well, I want to buy it! and if you had a tier that made sense for me, I would give you a credit card number right this instant'.
  • michael3424michael3424 Member Posts: 676 ✭✭✭✭
    I also mention my willingness to buy a mid-level tier whenever an Onshape rep calls, but so far, no joy.  It is pretty easy to understand their rationale, even though it is disappointing to at least a few of us.
  • david_williams419david_williams419 Member Posts: 2
    Even if it wasn't a whole tier, just the ability to buy one or multiple tokens for access to a feature in an "à la carte" style.  There are only three items I see in a Pro plan a hobbyist might use.  Simulation, Rendering, Direct Support.  Get a token, access the service.  Maybe a few types of tokens - a one time use token that works for a single iteration of something like a simulation, a timed one for a set number of iterations (maybe a few hours or a work day, I don't know), and a 24 hour or longer tier unlimited token for a feature like multiple renders or simulations  All the time based ones would be active-use hours, not continuous, so if you got a 24 hour token at the end of the day but only used two hours, when you come back you would still have 22 hours remaining.

    I need to simulate this hobby level part's strength one time - get a token.
    Oops, I'll need to refine this, it's going to be more changes than I thought - get a 4 hour token.

    I want to learn efficient workflow with simulations following the OS tutorials for 2-3 hours a day - get a 24 hour token and get around 12 days of use.
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