Onshape and Chromebooks?


I am being required to be able to teach CAD virtually. Normally we use SolidWorks in class, but very few of my students have a computer that will even load SolidWorks at home. However, our school has a lot of Chromebooks we can loan out to students.

I created an account today and have been playing with it and it will certainly meet my curriculum requirements. Onshape’s website says it will run on a Chromebook, but will it really?

Does anyone have “1ST” hand experience with Onshape on a Chromebook?


1 Like

1293 students get standard-issue Chromebooks.

It’s slow as molasses on full robot models, but functional.


This may go without saying, but a mouse really helps if you (or they) have any available.


Several members of my team were using it last season on their school-issued chromebooks. It is, as Billfred says, slow on large models but functional. They were able to use it for some of our mechanism CADs, but when it came to really complex stuff, only the students with their own laptops (mostly windows machines) were tasked with doing the drawings.

Onshape definitely runs on Chromebooks. Like Windows laptops or desktops, the performance is going to depend on the CPU in the machine. 4020 students have school-issued Chromebooks and they use those with Onshape. They slow down somewhat with larger assemblies, but the performance is usable. Unfortunately, I don’t know the spec on those Chromebooks. I’d expect at least a 3000 series Intel Celeron CPU. Some Chromebooks have Intel i3, i5, or i7 processors and those should perform at least as well as Windows laptops using the same chips.

1 Like

Thanks guys! I think Onshape will do the trick and the students in the classroom will have our windows machines. This way I can have both virtual learners and in person learners working on the same concepts.

Our district is opening on August 5th and parents have the option to have their students attend normal school wearing masks or go completely virtual. Some are choosing a hybrid of the two.

We’ve been using Onshape for Wave for the last 2+ years and all our students have used their school assigned chrome books no problem.

1 Like

My team does some of our Onshape on Chromebooks too and it’s been fine. As some others have said, full robot assemblies can be kind of slow/laggy, but this seems true on our desktops as well. It may be more of an internet problem than anything to do with the computers themselves.

And I second those recommending computer mice, our kids often try to navigate Onshape using the Chromebook touchpad and get very frustrated.


My school had chromebooks 1-to-1 this past year and I had students use them with OnShape. Agree, mouse with center wheel (clickable preferred) is key. And you can have your students change mouse settings to mimic Solidworks.

Also had my kids doing 3D printing. Parts in OnShape can be downloaded as STL, then uploaded to service like 3DPrinterOS.com to setup and slice for printing. Definite learning curve, but I had over a dozen new CAD users printing parts inside of a week of playing around.

While I can’t attest to anything else, my acer spin 13 can quite easily handle models with up to 50 parts such as a toughbox mini with all gears, however struggled very much with a full robot cad. Granted, I expect your school to give out cheaper chrome books than an acer spin, but without knowing the computer model, I can’t tell you how it will preform. Good luck teaching CAD!


1 Like

It will work fine with chrome books and long as you’re not doing any giant assemblies. The thing I would be worried about is internet connection, Onshape is all cloud based so there is really not much going on in the computer other than loading the site, so if your students don’t have good internet, then they are likely to struggle

Just a data point on this: we moved into a new shop this year (off campus), and the only internet we could afford was about 1-2 Mbps on a good day via a cellular wifi puck from Sprint (via Mobile Beacon for $120 annually). Shockingly, OnShape worked fine, and that was for the full robot. Loading the full robot was a little slow, but not terrible on most days.

For the second semester of my schools design class, we used onshape on our school-issued chromebooks to do CAD assignments. It definitely is much slower than than Solidworks or Inventor, but it does work and using a mouse makes using it much easier.

Not quite sure how you can say this, since as far as I know neither Solidworks nor Inventor can run on a chromebook. So if you’re comparing running Onshape on a chromebook to running another CAD package on a computer with better specs that’s comparing apples to oranges


For 2019, we used OnShape with Windows laptops. We found it helpful to use simplified models where possible. For instance, in the MKCAD library, there are two versions of the PDP, one with all the details such as the holes for all the wires and a simplified one that is a “brick” with “PDP” on the top and just the mounting holes. One time, I tried loading the model for the whole field and it took forever. Afterward, I imported only the game elements that we were planning to use. I also simplified them, i.e. removed the support structure and fasteners from the platforms. I also simplified the model of the KOP chassis by doing things like deleting all the fasteners that were not on the outside surfaces, deleted the internal parts of the gearboxes, replaced the wheels with simple disks and deleted the pulleys and belts from the drive train. I recall having a student load the original KOP chassis model then the simplified one and the loading time was roughly cut in half. These practices would speed up the loading and model manipulation no matter what CAD package one is using.

We found a major bottleneck was the slow WiFi at the school, especially when more than one student was trying to use OnShape at the same time. Even loading datasheets from AndyMark was slow. The response was much faster and became acceptable when I set up a hotspot using my cell phone. It may have been a bit faster when using the wired network with fiber optic feed at home or the network at my workplace.

I’ve personally done subsystem work on my chromebook, it takes awhile to load a full bot assembly, but if the student is doing work on an intake or a drivetrain it works just fine.

I’m gonna derail the topic a little but I have a few questions regarding Onshape:

  1. What is the licensing like? Fusion 360 is a pain to license out to students because the school is not registered** with them so they have to provide “proof” and it never really works well

  2. What is the CAD-CAM model? Export to .step or .dxf and cut from there using some other software?

Fusion is really killing me lately. It has a bunch of bugs that make simple things take a few seconds and freeze the computer. Onshape looks promising from what I’ve tried, I’m just not used to the interface

**Edit: By registered I mean it doesn’t have an email that autodesk instantly recognizes as an education email. Plus I don’t have any proof that I’m a robotics mentor so I cant get a license for my other email

1: Licensing is very simple, and near-instant. Just fill out the Education form-- they have a field for being a robotics mentor or student.

2: We use Fusion for CAM, exporting from Onshape. Unfortunately none of the services available in Onshape are satisfactory for our usage yet.

1 Like

So would you recommend switching from only Fusion 360 to using Onshape for modeling and Fusion 360 for CAM?

We CNC 90% of our robot so It’s a big step. To be fair, our sheet metal workflow isn’t the best either. We literally export all the parts we want to cut as a DXF, then re-import them in a sketch and manually nest them. Any advice on how to make that faster?