Onshape is the first CAD system specifically built for teams. The cloud enables your whole team to work together instead of being forced to work one person at a time as happens with traditional desktop-installed CAD. Customers, vendors and colleagues can view and edit the same product design easily and freely, no matter where they are and what hardware they are using. Done right, the benefits are considerable.

With Onshape, you can:

  • Save time with better and faster product designs
  • Get your designs under control
  • Eliminate CAD data exchange problems
  • Have more fun because you’re spending more time designing (and less on administrative tasks)
  • Save lots of money

It is the last point – saving money – that will most likely attract the ear of your CFO.

So, how exactly can cloud CAD save you money?

Well, full-cloud CAD offers several important sources of savings:

  1. Onshape requires zero IT. You do not need an extra person to install and manage your CAD and PDM software
  2. No $5,000+ CAD license fees
  3. No costly PDM system needed (costly in terms of extra personnel and extra license fees)
  4. Uses lower cost hardware
  5. Improves cash flow
  6. Gets work done faster because teams can work in parallel
  7. Minimizes mistakes and rework because some of your engineers are working on the wrong version of the CAD data

Let’s review each one.

No $5,000+ CAD license fees

A professional 3D CAD software license typically starts at $5,000 per user, and can go up depending on the exact package and options. So if you are a small design team of 3-5 designers, the price of admission to pro-grade CAD is somewhere in the neighborhood of $20,000 to $40,000. (And you’re also likely paying an annual subscription that could be 20-35% of the license cost.)

With traditional CAD, you pay for a license and own it forever, whether you need it or not. With Onshape, there’s no license fee – simply pay by the month only when you need it. You can easily add or remove users as your CAD needs evolve. And, when you share an Onshape model with someone for viewing and commenting, they can use Onshape for free.

No PDM system needed

Although PDM systems enable version control and help us avoid design conflicts, they come at great cost. PDM investments often start at $20,000 to $30,000 and up, when you take into account the software costs, consulting and data migration. And upfront investments aside, many CAD users regard PDM as a cumbersome bureaucratic system that creates roadblocks to creativity and productivity.

With Onshape, version control is built-in so you don’t need extra PDM software – or that huge PDM software bill. You can instantly share your Onshape Documents with peers and have full control over access permissions. Teams can simultaneously work together on parts, assemblies, and drawings; or work on branches of a design and choose to merge these branches at a later point in time. In other words, you can go from a serial design process to a parallel one, and get products out faster to the market.

No CAD and PDM software to install & manage

Updating to a newer version of your CAD and PDM systems is often fraught with complications. Things can go wrong during the software and data upgrade process, in part because that year’s worth of new code that your CAD vendor has been working on has not been used extensively in production yet (so the odds of a negative interaction increase).

The maintenance of a CAD and PDM infrastructure, including testing and upgrades, can easily take up hundreds of hours per year for a small team (3-5 users), and often require a dedicated CAD administrator once the team grows to 10-15 or more. In other words, the labor costs can start at $20,000 per year, and reach $80,000 or more for moderately-sized teams. And for multi-site implementations, the headaches, errors and costs tend to scale exponentially.

With Onshape, you get all the benefits of a full-cloud CAD architecture:

  • Onshape works exactly the same no matter where your users are located (or traveling).
  • You and every Onshape user in the world are always on the most recent version. So there are never any software version or database version compatibility issues.
  • No need for downloads or installs. Just refresh your browser to take advantage of the newest features and enhancements.
  • Any data upgrades needed are done automatically by Onshape in the cloud. You don’t have to deal with it.
  • There is absolutely zero IT support required to use Onshape and to stay up to date. And, all third-party Integrated Cloud Apps in Onshape’s App Store are always up to date as well.

Use lower cost hardware

With traditional CAD, the optimal computer setup likely requires a fast CPU, lots of RAM, and an expensive graphics card and hard drive, because you rely on the computer to do all the computational heavy lifting. This might be a $3,000-$6,000 workstation, typically upgraded every 3 years.

With Onshape and the power of cloud computing, you can view and fully edit your CAD data from any computer that has a modern browser and any iOS or Android device.

No IT infrastructure

With traditional CAD, you and/or your CAD administrator are likely very familiar with all the work required to set up CAD license servers, file servers, and PDM servers – especially if your team works in a multisite environment. Even for a small team, this expense can easily run $5,000-$50,000 or more depending on scope and complexity.

With Onshape, there are no license servers, file servers, or PDM servers to buy, setup or maintain.

Improve cash flow

Desktop software with significant upfront costs tie up valuable money, which impacts cash flow and potentially keeps companies from making other meaningful long-term investments. SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions, such as Onshape, provide pay-as-you-go subscriptions with no upfront license fees, which can be a much more attractive proposition. This is the difference between Capital Expenditures (CAPEX) and Operating Expenses (OPEX). For a deeper dive, see my colleague Darren Henry’s “An Engineer’s Guide to Controlling CAD Costs.”

Your CFO will most likely prefer the subscription model of a cloud-based CAD system like Onshape (OPEX), versus the outright purchase of a traditional installed CAD system (CAPEX). Here’s why:

  • Less cash is required upfront
  • Without depreciation, the company does not need to prepare supporting financial schedules, keep track of the installed software asset, etc
  • The company is not stuck with the solution (and the “stranded capital” used to pay for it) if it becomes no longer useful or outdated
  • The company can pay for exactly what it needs and scale as requirements change
  • The budgeting process is straightforward as short-term spending requirements are easier to understand
  • Precious capital can be redeployed to other long-term investments
  • Less IT and hardware resources are required to implement the system (i.e., a further reduction in CAPEX)

Get work done faster because teams can work in parallel

If you’re working on a project in traditional CAD, you know the drill. Being on a design team ironically means that teamwork happens alone. Whether you use a PDM system or you just do it by social agreement, only one engineer can make changes on a 3D CAD model at a time. Your design work is done serially. User A locks the file, works, finishes, unlocks the file (unless they forget to unlock it – even worse) and then User B comes in for his or her work and then passes it on to User C.

With Onshape, Users A, B and C can design at the same time. They can work in parallel, with no fears of overwriting each other’s work because there are no confusing copies of files. Everyone works on the same master CAD database in the cloud.

Obviously, these savings and accelerating time-to-revenue vary greatly from company to company, and project to project. But even for a small team, saving several months in engineering costs adds up to tens of thousands of dollars or more; and the faster time-to-market can have a dramatic revenue impact as well.

Minimize mistakes and rework

How many of us haven’t made the mistake of working on the wrong design version, impacting project deadlines and costs? Imagine having an injection mold machined, only to discover it was for an earlier version of the design. Or, the nightmare of an expensive titanium machined part not fit properly into the rest of the assembly.

Time and again, costly mistakes are made in part because some of your engineers are working on the wrong version of the CAD data. With Onshape, everyone on the team can see the latest version and do their work without worrying about overwriting someone else’s work.

Time is money and your time is worth 30-to-40% more than you think.

Whether you are working for a startup or an established mid-sized or large company, your management team should explore how Full-Cloud CAD can enable these dramatic savings – while simultaneously improving your entire design and manufacturing process.

So far, only four months into our commercial release, thousands of CAD users in more than 150 countries have logged nearly a million hours in Onshape. Now’s the time to join them. Beat your competitors to the punch!

Try Full-Cloud CAD Today