Manufacturing companies are constantly evolving in order to foster innovation for their product development teams, and exploring new tools and technologies is critical for pursuing continuous improvement. Not every CAD system functions the same, and some systems, such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms, work better for certain kinds of engineering teams. 

What’s it like to move your team from a file-based, on-premise CAD system to a cloud-native SaaS design platform? Onshape recently posed this question to some of its most prolific customers in the webinar, “From SOLIDWORKS to Onshape: Why Forward-Thinking Companies are Making the Switch.'' 

The webinar featured Phillip Taber, VP of Hardware Engineering at Silverside Detectors, and Matt Kibler, Mechanical Designer at FHE. Taber currently oversees the design and manufacturing of radiation detectors used for homeland security applications, while Kibler designs industrial equipment for the oil and gas industry.

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Expert panelists Philip Taber and Matt Kibler recently discussed how their manufacturing companies made the switch from file-based CAD to cloud-native CAD.

A Smooth Transition

These two engineers switched from SOLIDWORKS to Onshape to capitalize on unique cloud CAD features such as asynchronous and real-time collaboration. Onshape allows product designers to work on the same Document across different time zones asynchronously, collaborate in real time via Comments and Follow Mode, and share Documents easily with other users, which makes fostering innovation more efficient. 

Although switching to a new CAD system may seem like a daunting task, Taber described his transition as a smooth one. He observed that the learning curve for Onshape is much quicker for engineers who have previously used other design platforms.

“I would say my experience with seeing a number of other mechanical engineers jump into Onshape is that, if you know SOLIDWORKS, if you know Inventor, you'll pick up Onshape very quickly,” said Taber. “Onshape does a lot of little things really, really well. And as you start to get familiar with this, you go, ‘Wow, this is really working great!’” 

Noting that many engineers fear that moving to a new CAD system would make them less productive initially and require a lot of time to adjust to new features, Kibler added that the basics of Onshape could be easily learned in “a day or two.”

“Watching some of the videos (in the Onshape Learning Center), going through the boot camp, and picking up those tricks and tips are very useful to make you more productive,” he said.

Improving Team Collaboration

For Kibler, the reasons for switching from file-based SOLIDWORKS to cloud-native Onshape wasn’t motivated by any particular CAD feature. Rather, it was about improving the way he and his colleagues worked together overall. 

Onshape’s real-time collaboration tools are “an amazing feature, enabling us to work on the same file at the same time,” Kibler said. “But also when I was in Canada and I was working on Onshape, it was exactly the same thing as when I was at my house, or when I was at the office, or when I was in a presentation, or anywhere around the globe.” 

Taber echoed that Onshape’s built-in data management has allowed engineers at Silverside Detectors to work together asynchronously on their product designs “faster and more efficiently.” He added that Onshape helps Silverside organize their data better and move projects along much faster because engineering teams are able to collaborate on one master design rather than sending versions back and forth through long email chains. 

Onshape’s cloud-native data management eliminates the need to store and manage large files on hard drives and servers, making it much easier to access and share design documents from anywhere. “I think understanding how to structure data within Onshape Documents was probably the biggest part of our transition because that's the paradigm shift going to a database-driven CAD system and realizing, ‘Oh, the way I'm used to doing things, I don't have to do it that way anymore’,” Taber said.

For more information on what a switch from SOLIDWORKS to Onshape looks like, watch the full webinar.