Are you considering OnShape (profesional cloud based CAD)?

I talked with, and they said they have talked to about 10 other FRC teams, who are you?

When I contacted OnShape about the possibility use it for our robot team they had one of their employees (a FIRST FRC alumni, and graduate from MIT give me a call) he explained that OnShape was founded by the people who created Solidworks, which instilled me with more confidence in the company. He expects just the free version would take care of our robot team’s needs, or if we need more than that they would be willing to figure out how to arrange a sponsorship if we need the professional level (basically it provides more private storage). I also learned in that conversation that they just added 2D drawings about a month back, which eliminated one barrier about why I had not been considering OnShape more seriously.

When I ran across (cloud CAD at and it eliminates so many barriers that have been in our way, mainly getting powerful enough computers to the students to run Solidworks (it runs through any browser and even runs on an Apps on iPad, iPhone or Android). Plus onshape adds so many more capabilities like 1) modeling multiple parts in one part file (allowing ties between the part geometry to be simply connected and parameterized) 2) concurrent editing of the same CAD file or Assembly by multiple people and 3) built-in versioning and branching that allows everyone access to the latest plan or option under consideration. Another bonus that I think the students will like is the higher-level mating.

We are a third year team but still do not have any students with any significant CAD skills. We lost our CAD mentor who knew 3 other CAD systems but was learning SolidWorks. The students have been trying to learn Solidworks but it has been slow going. I have played with CAD over the years but it has never been part of my job, so I too have been trying to learn how to do CAD at an FRC level, specifically using Solidworks.

After my conversation with OnShape I have been using OnShape and really like it, they seem to have taken what they learned over the years with Solidworks and used the to create a new cloud based product that from the ground up is just way better. I never understood how I was supposed to design and take full advantage of parametric CAD, when all the parts are in separate files and I then had to bring them together in the Assembly. The only way it seemed it would work was if I coordinated many things in my head or through some other mechanism I have yet to learn.

The only downside I see is not having the students leave the team with experience in a marketplace accepted CAD system (e.g. Solidworks).

For teams that will be using OnShape in the upcoming season is anyone considering creating an OnShape-Team for all FRC teams that could hold a standard library of FRC relevant components, like all the Andymark CAD files and the Field components once they are made available. For me Importing Andymark components into has been effortless, so it should not be hard to create a library, it would just take a little time but all the teams using OnShape would benefit.

We still have not made our final decision but I would like to know what the other teams, especially those considering OnShape have to say.


I’ve been playing with Onshape on and off over the past few months. In my opinion, it’s still too rough around the edges/lacking in features (sheet metal, most glaringly) for us to switch. However, the core idea has absolutely incredible promise, and I can’t wait until the core functionality catches up with more established platforms. It has the real potential to be a gamechanger.

Thanks Joe. I did not know about Solidworks Sheet Metal, it looks very interesting.

I expect that teams that already have skills in a CAD system will not switch to OnShape – not now at least – because I would see no reason to go up a new OnShape CAD learning curve if a team has already mastered some other CAD learning curve, possibly years ago.

Our team is in a very similar position, and we are pushing toward OnShape as our CAD. We are also a third year team, we also have not yet really used CAD, and we are also without a CAD mentor. We are a 1-to-1 Mac school, so OnShape is particularly attractive to us. (I don’t care how “robust” Solidworks is. It simply does not run on our computers.) I’m not too worried about students leaving the team without industry experience in an industry-standard CAD. First, there is a lot of value in just learning how to use CAD in general. Apple Pages is far easier to learn if you are already comfortable with Open Office or Word. Second, we really have no idea where the industry will be in five years.

In any case, we could at least consider working with other teams on a library of FRC relevant components for OnShape.

I have used it and I do like it. The pros are that you can run it on any computer and even linux regardless of power. The cons are that you do need an internet connection which in our current location is unreliable, no sheet metal (yet?), Inventor 2016 + HSM pro gets you full and free CAM capability, you cant access CAD files at competition without another CAD program or using wireless data and the app, and there are more features in other programs thus far. That said I think for most teams especially new ones this will work fine.

Training people to switch from Inventor should’t be hard. Solidworks maybe slightly less so? Having used both (and Creo 3) onshape feels close to Inventor and overall is fairly easy to understand if you’ve used any of the previously mentioned software packages. That said I wouldn’t switch.

The freshman on my team have chromebooks instead of PC’s so OnShape is a great way for them to practice their skills. When it comes time to design our real parts, we have a few team PC’s that are loaded with Inventor. I personally have had many positive experiences with OnShape. Another option for cloud based CAD is AutoDesk123D.

In terms of learning Inventor, I really like the Autodesk Aftermath tutorial. Plays like a game and teaches great skills.

Hi jmsmith,

I see there are FRC models in onshape from Davin Keeney, Eric Link, Justin Foss, and Aaron Dengler, but I do not know how to get a hold of them in onshape. I created an onshape team called “FIRST FRC Robotics” and added a “FRC Robot Start template” it has the wide chassis and some other parts from Andymark and Vex and some pullys.

My thought is that if we can get some of the Vex and Andymark CAD organized in an onshape document then we can use “derived part” to search for what we need. For example entering “bearing”, and up would pop the preview of the CAD for a number of bearings and we would pick the one we need. We should put mates on the bearing then it would be fast to use “translate by mate” to locate the bearing on the robot, and we could then quickly see for example if there is enough room for what we had planned etc.

By having the parts in an onshape document the document can become an easy to access standard set of FRC parts and it would save us the time of having to find the CAD, downloading it, uploading it in Onshape, giving it a descriptive name and adding mates. It might even make it easier to find a part that would work from some other vendors besides Vex and Andymark (for example see the pully in the document, I believe I noted the website I found it at).

Those are my thought after having played around with onshape working on a 2014 concept robot.


PS: I don’t know of a way for you to make a request to join the “FIRST FRC Robotics” team so for now if anybody wants to join the “FIRST FRC Robotics” team in onshape I guess contact us at: Laker Robotics 5053 at gmail (all one word) and we will invite you.

2090 uses it extensively, along with use in our school curriculum. If you have any needs, please let me know :slight_smile:

We have been using SolidWorks as our CAD environment for many years now, however, I have been investigating and experimenting with OnShape for the better part of a year now. It is quite impressive how quickly new features are being added with each release (sheet metal and in context editing FTW!). I still feel that it is not quite ready for our uses just yet, although I am hopeful that it just might be ready by the next season.

jlai, how has it been incorporating it into your curriculum? Have you run into any issues?

We use it. Not for everything but it helps get newcomers to CAD up and running very quickly compared to SolidWorks. This is 100% the future of CAD products and it’s only going to get better. I really hope to see SolidWorks come out with a competing product before too long.