When it comes to product design and development – whether it be for your education-focused competition or real-world product – a file sharing and management system is critical. 

While there are many solutions in the file management and product data management (PDM) space, GrabCAD Workbench emerged as a popular choice for professional engineering teams, startups on the path of growth, and education teams competing in FIRST, FSAE, and more. 

The ease of integration with installed CAD software like SOLIDWORKS and the suite of PDM features – while costing nothing – was hard to beat. 

Unfortunately, Stratasys announced that GrabCAD Workbench will shut down on June 1, 2023, leaving many users with the need for a new solution. 

If this sounds like you, read on to learn how Onshape expands on the features you loved about GrabCAD Workbench in a cloud-native, easy-to-use CAD and PDM platform!

Let’s go through GrabCAD Workbench’s best features and how Onshape improves on them:

GrabCAD: Works Inside Your CAD System
Onshape: It’s One Integrated System!

GrabCAD Workbench could be integrated as an add-in to your downloaded CAD system to assist in the upload/download process and handling of file conflicts. 

With Onshape, you don’t need to spend time worrying about add-ins or handling file conflicts. Onshape is a fully-integrated CAD and PDM solution, so you can focus on creating the best design possible, not whether your design has been properly uploaded or downloaded.


GrabCAD: Web-Based CAD & Drawing Viewer on Desktop or Mobile
Onshape: Cloud-Native CAD & Drawings on Any Device!

One of GrabCAD Workbench’s most popular features was the web-based interface that allowed users to view models and make comments from their desktop or mobile devices. There’s a key catch, though – this was for model viewing, not editing. 

Onshape allows users to view and edit their parts, assemblies, and drawings from any internet-connected device. Whether you’re using Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS, you can access your data and keep working on your design!  

any device

GrabCAD: User-Controlled Desktop Sync
Onshape: No Syncing Necessary!

With GrabCAD Workbench, users were required to link desktop files to their online Workbench projects and could choose when to update these files so everything stayed up to date. However, users still had to choose when to update their files to make sure the model was current. 

With Onshape’s cloud-native architecture that saves every small change made, you’re guaranteed to have the most up-to-date version of a file, regardless of whether you or a colleague worked on it last.


GrabCAD: File Locking for Exclusive Editing
Onshape: Why Lock When You Know Exactly What Others Are Working On?

File locking was a great feature since it’s not always easy to know what your colleagues are editing in a file-based CAD system. 

With Onshape’s Simultaneous Editing and collaboration capabilities, it’s obvious exactly what sketch, feature, or assembly your fellow designers are working on. 

no more file locking

GrabCAD: Download as a Neutral Format
Onshape: Download as Neutral, SOLIDWORKS, & More!

Workbench CAD files could be downloaded as common “neutral” formats, such as STEP, IGES, or STL, regardless of what the original file type was. 

With Onshape, you can download your parts and assemblies as these same file types or program-specific files like SOLIDWORKS parts.

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GradCAD: Partner Spaces to Share with Customers & Manufacturers
Onshape: Sharing Capabilities to Provide Access to Anyone

GrabCAD Workbench allowed users to release models to customers or vendors for viewing. 

Onshape’s powerful sharing capabilities make it easy to share models with any other user, regardless of whether they have an Onshape account or not. View-only links are quick to generate and can be provided to users who don’t have accounts. If a customer or vendor does have an Onshape account, you can share your Onshape Documents with the specific view or edit permissions you desire.


GrabCAD: Visual Version Comparison
Onshape: Visual & Feature-By-Feature Version Comparison

As your model evolves toward a final product, it’s often important to be able to view what has changed. 

Onshape’s version management and branching capabilities allow for feature-by-feature comparisons as well as visual comparisons!


GrabCAD: Version Backups & Revision Management
Onshape: Versions & History and Branching 

GrabCAD workbench had a strong revision management system with backup capabilities, but it depended on users being diligent in their version management practices. 

Onshape automatically tracks every change you make and allows you to make versions whenever you like. You can also compare and restore to prior versions in a few simple clicks. Branching and Merging capabilities give users Github-like abilities to safely branch, modify, and merge their favorite changes back into the main branch.


GrabCAD: No Release Management
Onshape: Release Management & Approval Workflows

For businesses, Onshape's Release Management and Approval Workflows give your team a fully integrated and formal release management process. Designs are easily referenced and you won’t have to worry about the check-in or check-out process required by some PDM systems. This is a set of features that GrabCAD didn’t have to offer, and we know that it will greatly improve your product development workflow.

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GrabCAD: Markup & Comment Capabilities
Onshape: Markup, Comments, & Task Assignment

The ability to leave feedback on a design, whether it be written or a visual markup, is a crucial part of collaborative design. 

Onshape’s integrated comment features make it simple to leave targeted feedback for other designers; you can tag specific users and parts, attach annotated images, and even assign comments as trackable tasks.

 comment bubble icon

So, How Can I Transfer Previous CAD Work into Onshape?

If you’re currently using GrabCAD Workbench and want to export your CAD models, you can view GrabCAD’s instructions at this link. Once you have your data downloaded, you can upload it into Onshape, regardless of whether the file type is “neutral” or proprietary. 

To learn our best practices when importing CAD data into Onshape, log into your Onshape account and check out the Importing and Exporting Data course in the Onshape Learning Center!

Thanks to everyone at GrabCAD who made it easy for teams of designers and developers to work together on their CAD data. We hope that those of you looking for a new CAD workflow will find that Onshape is your all-in-one solution!

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