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Did someone send you a weird file format again that is unopenable and unreadable on your existing software?

If the file ends in STEP, IGES, STL, is a Parasolid, DWG, or DXF, then you, my friend, might have a CAD file on your hands and you’re going to need a CAD viewer if you want to take a look at any design details. 

What’s a CAD file viewer and how do I get one without paying out the wazoo?

Why Someone Would Need a CAD Viewer

A CAD viewer is an essential software tool for various stakeholders in the product design process, including engineers, designers, project managers, clients, suppliers, and manufacturers. These are the key reasons why someone might need a CAD viewer:

Collaboration and Communication: CAD viewers provide a common platform where multiple team members can access and review design files simultaneously.

Design Review and Analysis: With a CAD viewer, internal and external product development teams can perform detailed design reviews, analyze 3D models, inspect product components, and validate design decisions. This capability enhances the accuracy and quality of the final product, minimizing errors and revisions.

Cost and Time Efficiency: CAD viewers streamline the review process, reducing the time taken for design approvals and alterations. By catching design issues early on, companies can avoid costly mistakes during manufacturing and assembly.

Accessibility and Portability: CAD viewers eliminate the need for expensive CAD software licenses for every team member. They offer easy accessibility, allowing stakeholders to view and interact with CAD files without requiring specialized training.

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Types of Files that Need a CAD Viewer

CAD viewers support various file formats commonly used in the industry. These can include:

3D CAD Files: CAD viewers can open and display complex 3D CAD models in formats such as STEP, IGES, STL, Parasolid, and more. These files contain detailed information about the geometry and structure of the design.

2D CAD Drawings: CAD viewers enable users to visualize 2D drawings and blueprints in formats like DWG, DXF, and PDF. It’s important to note that many CAD viewers have a detailed list of compatible file types that users should check.

Assembly Files: CAD viewers allow users to explore assembled products, viewing how individual components fit together and interact.

Simulation and Analysis Results: Some advanced CAD viewers can display simulation results, stress analysis, and other engineering analyses, providing additional insights into the performance of the design.


Onshape as the Best CAD Viewer

Onshape, a cloud-native CAD platform, emerges as the easiest and most accessible CAD viewer due to several reasons:

Quick Onboarding: All users need is to create an Onshape account and you’re ready to import. No hefty downloads, no waiting. Once in Onshape, the account holder can share design data with others using just an email address or link sharing

Cloud-Native Architecture: Onshape's cloud-first approach ensures that users can access their CAD data from any device with an internet connection. This convenience is invaluable for distributed teams and professionals on the go.

Real-Time Collaboration: Onshape allows multiple users to work collaboratively on the same design simultaneously. With granular permissions, it enables effective teamwork without the hassle of file versioning issues.

Version Control and History: Onshape maintains a complete history of design changes, making it easy to revert to previous iterations or track modifications made by different team members.

3D Visualization: Onshape offers 3D visualization capabilities that enable users to view, pan, zoom, and rotate models effortlessly. This visualization enhances the design review process.

Cross-Platform Support and Easy Import: Onshape is compatible with various operating systems and web browsers, providing flexibility in choosing the devices and tools that suit individual preferences. Onshape can import a range of files from any other CAD system, including Autodesk and SOLIDWORKS, in a matter of seconds.

Cost Effective: Since Onshape is browser-based, anyone with an internet-connected device can access the CAD data they need as long as they’re shared into the Onshape Document. Light users are able to take a look at design data for minimal or no cost. 

Highly Rated: According to the software review website G2, Onshape ranks as one of the highest-rated CAD viewers available on the market today.

Onshape: More than Just a CAD Viewer

Beyond its capabilities as a CAD viewer, Onshape is a full-fledged CAD platform, offering several additional features:

Parametric Modeling: Onshape enables parametric modeling, allowing designers to create intelligent and editable design features. This feature enhances design efficiency and simplifies design changes.

Integrated Simulation: Onshape integrates with simulation tools to perform structural analysis directly within the platform. This helps engineers optimize designs for performance and reliability.

Built-In Data Management: Onshape's built-in product data management (PDM) features simplify file organization and version control, ensuring a seamless design workflow. Built-in PDM allows users to leverage Publications, which allow users to collate design information, like Part Studios, Assemblies, Drawings, renderings, and spreadsheets, from a Document in any PDM revision or version status. It can then be shared with anyone who has an Onshape account.

Collaboration and Sharing: Onshape facilitates easy sharing of design data with clients, suppliers, and stakeholders. Its commenting and mark-up tools streamline the feedback process.

Embracing Onshape as your CAD viewer of choice will not only streamline your design process but also open doors to a complete and integrated computer-aided design platform that empowers innovation and creativity in every project.

Plus, no more unreadable files!

Get Started Today

Head to our sign-up page to choose the right CAD plan for you and your business.