Nobody likes to feel like they are getting ripped off. It’s true when you’re buying furniture, eating at a restaurant or staying at a hotel. I don’t mind paying more for good workmanship, the best materials and superior service because I know I’m getting value. The same principles apply to my CAD system.

Many engineers postpone upgrading their installed CAD system as long as possible. Maintenance fees are significant (starting around $1300 per seat) for sure, but that’s not the real cause for hesitation. The reality is that the more a CAD system matures, the less likely new enhancements will be important or relevant to most users.

Phil Brace is the lead designer for phil & teds, the New Zealand baby gear company best known for its rugged strollers in more than 50 countries. Phil says that before switching to Onshape as their primary CAD system, they had not updated their SOLIDWORKS seats since 2011. The reason: No upside.

“If we wanted to upgrade, it would cost us $40,000 and the software hasn't really changed much,” he says. “There's a few more tricks and a few more tools, but I don't see the value in the upgrade costs.”

“Essentially, it's a bit like using Photoshop,” he adds. “There's really no creative difference between using Photoshop 6 and Photoshop 9. It still does the same job.”

Crazy annual maintenance fees aside, the pressure to upgrade is still enormous. Regardless of which installed CAD system you’re using, your valuable data sitting on your disc is always aging. Either you pay to keep the data current, or it becomes less valuable with each passing software release. With the “benefits” of new enhancements rather negligible, the main incentive to upgrade is to keep your CAD data compatible. But it’s not as simple as flipping a switch: The IT logistics of upgrading file-based CAD systems are a major headache.

You need to manage the updates, cover the IT costs of testing and installing them, and endure the delay of bringing each file onto the new version. Even when you upgrade, some of your vendors or suppliers do not and you’re still stuck in the compatibility trap. After going through all the pain, aggravation and expense of updating your data, you still might not be able to collaborate easily with your partners.

By staying on your old version of CAD, you save the cost of the yearly maintenance and its associated IT costs. Also, you can send your data files to outside vendors, customers and suppliers who have newer versions and can open them. However, it is a one-way relationship. You won’t be able to collaborate using your data and you won’t be able to receive any data from the rest of the world.

Onshape Takes the Hassle Out of CAD Upgrades

Onshape is a modern professional 3D CAD system designed to eliminate this problem. Its unique database architecture allows all your data to be current with the latest version of the software at all times. And as a customer, you and every other Onshape user in the world will always be using the same version of software – the latest one.

Onshape eliminates backward compatibility issues. We automatically release new updates every three weeks (subscribe to our What’s New notifications here) and your data is always upgraded to the latest version of the software on our servers. Your IT person can focus on something else! Your upgraded data is always available without you ever having to think about it. We even seamlessly push bug-fixes, so you never deal with service packs.

Even if you choose to discontinue the Onshape service, your data is always kept up to date. You can open and view your Documents anytime and download all your models and drawings.

By moving forward with installed CAD software upgrades, you get the worst of all worlds. You pay a lot of money in fees and overhead, just to stay afloat – with no guarantee your data will flow smoothly throughout your supply chain. Sure, you can try to delay these updates as long as possible, but ultimately, you’ll be hit with much higher upgrade costs in the end.

The alternative? You can design in Onshape, a modern, fixed-cost solution that lets you stop worrying about your software and focus more on doing your best work.