Modern CAD Collaboration in a Secure Cloud Workspace Helps Overcome “Design Gridlock”


Jon Hirschtick, Co-founder and CEO
Jon Hirschtick, Co-founder and CEO
“Today, cloud CAD is no longer something engineers hear about at conferences or read about on the web,” explains Jon Hirschtick, co-founder and CEO of Onshape. “This year marks the shift of cloud CAD from a concept to a production-worthy toolset that equips modern design teams to do their best work.”
Onshape is a modern professional 3D CAD system that combines advanced modeling tools and built-in data management in a secure cloud workspace. In 2012 when Hirschtick, previously the founder of SOLIDWORKS, and his co-founders set out to build a new CAD system from scratch that ran fully in the cloud and on mobile, there were plenty of cynics. Many experts doubted it was even possible to run compute-intense and graphics-heavy CAD software on the internet.
Fast forward to the present, and thousands of companies now rely on Onshape’s modern CAD system to streamline their engineering and manufacturing processes. Onshape users in 170+ countries have logged over 4 million hours modeling advanced robotics, biomedical devices, industrial machinery, automotive parts, agricultural equipment and consumer products. With 1 of 8 sessions occurring on mobile devices, Onshape is the world’s first anywhere, anytime CAD system.
Based on a unique database architecture, Onshape was created to combat “design gridlock,” an unavoidable set of productivity-draining problems that slow companies down at the most inopportune times. As the pressure for more speed and innovation in product development increases, engineers and manufacturers who are using old file-based CAD systems are too frequently forced to either stop working or take a few steps backward.
When does design momentum come to a screeching halt?
• When engineers are forced to wait for co-workers to check in design files before they can make edits.
• When engineers have to recreate lost work due to CAD crashes and corrupted files.
• When teams are frozen by the confusion of multiple file copies, wondering “which version is really the final version of our design?”
Companies using old file-based CAD systems now hit a brick wall whenever they have multiple design team members collaborating on the same model. Design partners must share files by email, Dropbox or FTP sites, creating lots of confusing copies and uncertainty over which version of the model is really the latest version. With Onshape, there is only one master copy of your work in the cloud.
“When one team member makes a change, everyone else on the team can instantly see it. Onshape ensures that engineers are no longer overwriting each other’s work. Everyone is confident that the model they are working on is always the latest, most up-to-date model,” says Hirschtick.
Petrak Industries, an Illinois-based company that designs modular and skid-mounted process systems for industrial plants, credits Onshape’s instant sharing feature with saving them five weeks in the design of complex refinery equipment for a major oil company.
Petrak can grant their clients and partner companies immediate access to their 3D design models in just a click of the mouse. “We were very tight on timeframe,” says engineer Brian Joffe. “We couldn’t afford the time it usually takes to make formal drawings of a large, complicated piece of equipment. And so the oil company wanted regular updates on my progress. How did you do this week? Can we view partial progress so we can determine if you’re going down the right path?”
“Giving our client instant access to our designs got us to the point where we could start fabricating much sooner,” Joffe adds. “Our customers are thrilled they can follow my progress in a browser and not have to go through any of their IT guys first.”
For executives and managers with more sophisticated design processes – such as multiple product lines and teams spread across multiple locations – Onshape Enterprise provides an even more powerful platform with real-time analytics and the ability to add Light Users to your company account.
“With Onshape Enterprise, anyone on our production floor can look at the 3D model, they can look at the drawings, they can access the machine code and always know it’s the most up-to-date information,” says engineering manager Will Tiller, of Dixie Iron Works, a Texas-based manufacturer of oilfield equipment. “We’ve really extended our engineering force without adding to the engineering team.”
Using Onshape, collaboration for engineers and manufacturers has never been easier.