As a Technical Services Engineer at Onshape, one of my favorite parts of the job is training new customers while they make their first transition to modern CAD. It’s about feeling the same satisfaction I feel when sharing anything new with friends – a favorite book, movie, website, restaurant, etc. – and they appreciate the recommendation because it personally resonates with them.

So I’m thrilled to announce that the Onshape Learning Center has now opened up 12 of its self-paced online training courses to anyone who wants to experience the difference between old-generation, file-based CAD and modern cloud CAD for themselves. The dozen courses, previously only available for Onshape Professional subscribers, are organized into two “Learning Pathways” that include bite-size videos and practice exercises:

  • Onshape Fundamentals: CAD – These courses focus on CAD functionality with an emphasis on the differences between 3D modeling in Onshape versus traditional desktop-installed CAD systems. Topics include: Onshape Documents, sketching, simultaneous editing, modeling parts in Part Studios, creating assemblies with Onshape’s high-level mates, and detailing production-ready 2D drawings. (Note: This Pathway does not teach basic CAD skills and is aimed at professionals with a background in parametric modeling.)

  • Onshape Fundamentals: Data Management – These courses focus on Onshape’s unique approach to managing CAD data in the cloud, including: Document organization tools, import and export options, sharing Documents with collaborators, using Document edit history and version control, branching and merging workspaces, and best practices for using Linked Documents.

Upon successfully finishing each Learning Pathway, you’ll receive a completion certificate as proof of your training.

There’s absolutely no substitute for learning by doing. CAD webinars, blogs and eBooks all serve an important role, but the beauty of the included practice exercises is that you can repeat them to your heart’s content. Designing is more fun when the mechanics of CAD become muscle memory.

Learning Center videos also include complete transcripts, so if you wanted to revisit an idea explored on screen, you can quickly search the text instead of being forced to watch the entire recording again.

Anyone familiar with the Onshape origin story knows that our company’s co-founders were instrumental in building SOLIDWORKS® in its earliest days and were key players in its growth. So it’s no surprise that their new product is attracting many former and current SOLIDWORKS users.

But it would be a mistake to assume that Onshape was intended to be a SOLIDWORKS clone with a candy cloud coating. Although many of our core CAD commands are similar – an extrude is an extrude and a fillet is a fillet – Onshape has rethought and improved upon many fundamental modeling approaches.

For example, Part Studios allow multi-part modeling in the same Document rather than manically bouncing back and forth between part files. Full-cloud Onshape’s modern approach to building assemblies requires only one-third the mating relationships typically used in file-based CAD. This is due to using higher-level mates that add a local coordinate system to each part and then matches up their coordinates. It’s far more robust and saves you unnecessary steps – it just takes some education to get started

I enjoy hearing from seasoned engineers when they realize that there’s a better, faster way to model – and that their 3D CAD technology has basically remained stagnant for years. Because I taught SOLIDWORKS for 4 years before I joined the Onshape team, this is a realization I’m fortunate enough to re-experience everyday. Two areas where this is most evident are how Onshape approaches sheet metal and top-down design.

New Advanced Courses: Simultaneous Sheet Metal & Managed In-Context Design

Practice, Practice, Practice – An Onshape Learning Center exercise for our Simultaneous Sheet Metal tools.

As an exclusive free offering for Onshape Professional subscribers, we’re also adding advanced courses on Simultaneous Sheet Metal and Managed In-Context Design. These topics have been extremely popular in Onshape’s live training sessions and there was a lot of demand to offer them in a self-paced format.

Onshape is the only professional 3D CAD system to offer sheet metal designers and manufacturers simultaneous and synchronized flat, folded and tabular views. The powerful design tools enable CAD users to visualize errors and interferences immediately, consider alternatives and ultimately, reduce scrap and wasted time.

In the Simultaneous Sheet Metal course, you’ll learn how to:

  • Create Sheet Metal Models
  • Work With Multiple Sheet Metal Parts
  • Use All Three Views Simultaneously
  • Use Additional Sheet Metal Commands
  • Modify the Model
  • Create Drawings of the Flat Pattern
  • Export the Flat Pattern

If you haven’t been faithfully following the Onshape Forums or the “What’s New” blogs, you should know that there have been some huge improvements added to our sheet metal tools since they were introduced in February. The most significant enhancements, which are covered in the online course, include:

  • Tabs – For creating multiple tabs with a single feature and defining a subtraction scope for subtracting tabs from other sheet metal parts.
  • Corner and Bend Reliefs – For specifying a size for sheet metal corner and bend reliefs. This was previously limited to a scale factor.

Many new Onshape users are surprised by how easy it is to use and how much functionality can be packed in a single command. The Tab feature is a great example because the average sheet metal user would probably make multiple sketches on each flange that needed a tab feature, but with Onshape you can make a single sketch and just pick the flanges later – even on different parts. You can’t do that in other CAD systems.

No More Broken Assemblies – Onshape’s “Managed In-Context Design" feature eliminates problems frequently experienced by CAD users whenever a part is changed or deleted.

The second new advanced course I am excited about covers Onshape’s “Managed In-Context Design,” which prevents a lot of the headaches created by file-based CAD systems when updating parts in assemblies.

In a typical workflow, an engineer designer will add in-context relationships between parts so their CAD system will know how modifying one part should affect another. Unfortunately, when updating parts in large assemblies, file-based CAD systems will often erroneously change other parts in unpredictable ways. The main reasons are:

  • Multiple relationships are stored in separate files and it is difficult to manually keep track of how they are all interrelated; and
  • Motion adds to an assembly's complexity. Even a simple movement of a mechanism can cause relationships to recalculate in unanticipated ways.

Because of this chaos, many companies have totally banned the use of in-context design when using old-generation CAD systems. But full-cloud Onshape’s unique database architecture, which stores relationships in one place versus in multiple files, allows you to avoid this nightmare. When using Managed In-Context Design, your CAD assemblies always update in a predictable way – and only when you want them to update. No drama!

In the Managed In-Context Design course, we cover:

  • What is Top-Down Design and Managed In-Context Design?
  • Creating and Managing Contexts
  • Updating and Editing Contexts
  • Primary and Secondary Instances
  • Common Top-Down Workflows

As with the ongoing development of Onshape itself, our customers have a heavy influence on where the Learning Center goes next. We’d love to know what you think of both our free courses and our exclusive Onshape Professional offerings. Stay in touch in the Onshape Forums and let us know what you’d like to see next!