Onshape – Heads out of Beta + Launches App Store

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One of Onshape’s new Cloud Integrated Partners – SimulationHub – running directly in the Onshape window

If you’ve been following the rise of Onshape, the cloud-based design start-up, then you’ll be aware that since its launch in March last year the service/product has been in beta.

That means that while anyone was free to experiment with the system, even stump up the $100 a month to remove the limitations on the free plan, you weren’t supposed to be using it for production work (at least, that’s my take on it).

In that time since the launch, the product has been growing rapidly, with a hectic release schedule seeing updates pushed out every three to four weeks (it’s worth a look through the What’s New blog posts)

Onshape’s update schedule has been fast and furious since launch


Well, that beta period is now over for the main chunk of the service – that means that all of the 3D part modelling, assembly building and drawing tools are now ready to go, with the company giving an embargoed presentation to the press last week, updating us on where the company is at.

The beta program has seen over 400,000 hours of user usage by over 10,000 users in 150 countries. If you want to break that down further, that’s 4 million features creates, 390,000 CAD files imported and just under that number of STLs generated (that’s a LOT of 3D printing!).

Third party application & app store

Now, onto the other news – the Onshape App Store. This, as you might guess from the name, is Onshape beginning to build an eco-system of third-party vendors that integrate their products either inside Onshape or connect to it.

What’s interesting here is that there are distinctly different levels of integration – not surprising considering Onshape’s cloud-based nature.

For example, perhaps the tightest integration is where there is a third-party service that works directly inside Onshape.

These are perhaps the rarest of them and at present, range from 3D PDF export (ProtoTech Solutions), rendering/visualisation (from Prefixa/OneRenderClara.io Visualizer by Clara.io/Exocortex), rules based automation (from the DriveWorks folks) and into Simulation (from simulationHUB and Fidesys/SimForDesign ) to name but a few, providing access to their tools directly from within Onshape’s user interface.

You subscribe (via the App Store) and it’s available directly in Onshape, in the same browser window, using the same data management tools.

The next two levels are Connected Cloud app and Connected Desktop App.

The Connected Cloud sees links between Onshape and the partner, so data can be extracted from Onshape and used in that partner’s services (think, how other services can access data within Dropbox). The Connected Desktop App is more traditional, where desktop installed software links into the Onshape data, can extract it and use it locally as usual.

The App Store model is interesting. Onshape handle all of the billing (we’ve asked what the revenue split is – that’s not been publicly discussed so far Update: Onshape have told us that the revenue split varies between partner, some are on a zero revenue split, while others are following the standard 30/70 split with Onshape), but it’s also interesting how the company is encouraging its partners to follow the same freemium model.

As you’re probably aware, there is a free plan for Onshape that gives you a certain number of projects and storage space (10 private projects and 100Mb for private project data). For example, the team at SimScale have recently relaunched its cloud-based simulation service, to give you greater access to its simulation tools and give you 3,000 hours of computation (more details here).

The partners already signed up are a curious mix of existing names in the 3D design technology game and new start ups (like SimSolid with its new meshless approach to simulation of large assemblies). It also points to how these are going to play out as these tools move to the cloud.

It will also be interesting to see if Onshape follows the typical history of these things and acquire the most popular third party applications (just like SolidWorks and almost every other vendor has).

We’ll be taking our quarterly look at what’s been updated in Onshape in the new year, so stay tuned and we’ll catch you up.

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