To design its 3D printers and post-processing machines, Formlabs relies on Onshape, a cloud-native CAD platform with built-in Product Data Management (PDM) and real-time collaboration tools. Formlabs switched to Onshape from its old file-based CAD and PDM systems in 2019 because their legacy on-premise software slowed down its collaborative design process.
When multiple engineers are working on the same file-based CAD model, they are required to check their work in and out of a PDM “vault” to prevent version control issues – denying visibility to colleagues until they are finished editing. File-based data management platforms force serial workflows, requiring engineers to work one-at-a-time instead of concurrently.
In contrast, cloud-native Onshape’s real-time data management allows multiple engineers to simultaneously work on the same product model, seeing each other’s design changes (or proposed design changes in experimental branches) as they happen. A comprehensive Edit History tracks every design change, who made them and when – allowing the team to instantly revert back to any earlier stage of the design if desired.
“It's critical to reduce waste in any design process,” notes Lipsitz. “And one of the great ways to do that is to know that when you're looking at something, you can trust it is the latest iteration. So any time you have to go back and rebuild a model or redesign something because it wasn't saved correctly, that's a waste. It's hugely valuable for our engineers to know that what they're looking at is the latest version.”
“In my current role, I need to collaborate with people globally. My colleagues or partners might be in the Far East, Europe or across the United States. So I need to be able to show them the latest CAD model in a matter of seconds – and it’s imperative that we’re all working from that same single source of truth,” he adds.
Improved CAD Stability and Reduced IT Overhead