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The new CAD in the Cloud - Onshape launches a file-less, online CAD tool

Kathleen Maher at GraphicSpeak discusses the debut of Onshape, the latest entrant to the elite club of professional CAD products. It stands out as a cloud-based tool designed to foster collaboration. Will the CAD community accept workflows based in the cloud? This team of veterans from SolidWorks and other CAD and high tech pioneers thinks so.

In CAD land, there are people who can command investment dollars with the merest twitch of an eyebrow. They have the Midas Touch, they’re the Massachusetts brain trust and they’re at it again, toiling away in semi-secret at the former Belmont Technologies and now renamed Onshape. Founded in 2012 by former SolidWorks founders and a bunch of new friends, Onshape is planning to revolutionize the CAD industry, again. They’re going public with their new CAD product on March 9, 2015. Onshape is a cloud-based CAD system, which, as you can imagine has inspired doubtful head shaking or enthusiastic fist pumps.


The people who founded Onshape in 2012 include Jon Hirschtick and Scott Harris who were on the founding team of SolidWorks along with John McEleney, Dave Corcoran, Michael Lauer, and Ilya Mirman, also longtime SolidWorks execs. Former SolidWorks CEO John McEleney, went off to run CloudSwitch for a while, and he brought CloudSwitch founding engineer John Rousseau to the Onshape leadership team. Almost as soon as there were rumblings about a new CAD dream team in the Boston area, talent started flocking to the company. The expertise in CAD and cloud-based software runs deep, but there are also a lot of bright young things from the best engineering schools in the world. OnShape has 60 employees making do with $64 million in venture capital (from Commonwealth Capital Ventures, North Bridge Venture Partners, and NEA)

The company has been talking to the CAD press and showing demos under NDA. I talked with Joe Dunne, another SolidWorks veteran, who explained a little bit about the philosophy behind the new company and let me play around with the product. It’s important to note that I was easily able to play with this brand new beta software seconds after Dunne and I connected on the phone. There are no downloads, no installs, just a polite invite, and I’m in business. The other aspect is that, I didn’t have much trouble figuring out how to build a basic model right away.

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