OnShape Recommendation?

Hi Guys,

Looking for OnShape users that previously used Solidworks.

In you opinion, what are the pros and cons of going to OnShape?


Version control is a big plus, and being able to work together at the same time is amazing. However, assemblies are a pain because mate connectors can feel counter intuitive.


Cross platform is incredibly nice

Collaboration out of the box

Versioning of documents

Reasonable parts libraries (I’ve got a shared one from 319 that’s pretty consistent)


Assembly can little funky

CAM is meh, I bring 100% of parts over to Fusion 360 for this.

Featurescript is documented worse than the FMS.


Pros - Part studios allow for mating parts to be designed together in a much better workflow than with multi-body parts in Solidworks. Better version control and collaborative workflows without having to manage (and teach students to use) a PDM server.

Cons - Harder to drop the robot into a full field assembly and design a sub-assembly that interfaces closely with a field element. Modeling is slower than Solidworks on a high-latency internet connection (overall CAD work may be faster due to better collaborative workflows).

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Like others above, working cross-platform and together with others speeds up design overall. But the lag is something to consider, need to have a strong internet connection and decent machine that handles CAD. Biggest plus has to be the fact that nothing is ever lost, even in the event of a crash.

Here’s 319’s public CAD in Onshape. The thread also turns into a discussion of Onshape for FRC.


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I came back to play with OnShape after trying it a few years back-- WOW. Part creation is extremely intuitive, and I actually really like the assembly system now that I’ve played with a bit (though it could use being easier to repeat an insert).

The main hangup I have now is that it seems like an extreme pain to import multipart STEP files-- “Fix” doesn’t seem to keep everything together the way I would expect when inserting into an assembly in another document. Is there a good workflow for taking in assemblies so that they “just work” when using them elsewhere?

If I can get this figured out, honestly I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to Creo or Solidworks for robotics. Just have to get over the lack of good material appearance options :stuck_out_tongue:

I tend to use the “group” tool to keep imported assemblies together

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Between your advice and a few more tutorials, I’ve put away most of my concerns about using OnShape… next step, designing a few robots!

As a Solidworks user personally I despise Onshape, but 1072 has to use it because of the high concentration of Macbooks the students own. It’s not bad at all in terms of convenience, but it’s a lot harder to switch between tabs without opening a new browser window. It’s very close to Solidworks in other aspects, and somehow handles larger assemblies well.
I think you can remove the 30-minute limit as an FRC team but I need to look into it.

Why do you despise it?

No real reason other than I’m used to the UI and power of Solidworks. Onshape is like Solidworks Lite in many ways (loading time for parts, assembly tools, hotkeys, no setting masses for assemblies) and the fact that 1072 has to use it because of Apple is quite irritating. That being said 1072 will stick with Onshape for the foreseeable future to be more inclusive.
If only everyone at the school switched to Windows desktops… /s

Don’t underestimate the benefit to not needing a massive software install. It’s very easy to add people to your design team or for non-design team members to view a design (even on their cell phones.)

Also, the free onshape fundamentals training is nice – it’s a series of short videos and “labs” that take you through all of the basic stuff.

Would I switch to it if my team had a big Solidworks investment? Probably not. But, it’s a great option for a team just starting with CAD.


I would like to revive this thread since I am interested in OnShape. What experiences did teams this year have with using the program, especially teams who switched over from Solidworks/Inventor?

We had a great experience with it, although it’s worth noting we didn’t really do CAD much before this year. The best aspect is being browser based - that means it works on Mac’s, and every student in our school gets a mac when they’re a freshman. The instant collaborative nature makes it really easy for multiple people to do stuff together, even if they aren’t co-located. When I was in NH for LRI training, I literally pulled it up on my iPad (They have an app for the ipad :slight_smile: ) during breaks and could see the changes they were making, as they were making them… and there was even a spot to chat - ask and answer questions, etc. The collaborative nature beats any other CAD package I’ve seen, it’s more like working in Google Docs from that respect. Definitely will be using again!


All my points have been made already.

I love what it has done for 5458. Kids can actually work from home and collaborate well.
1678 has switched to it and has loved the lack of install and always having the most up to date versions of stuff.


The best part about onshape is the ability to collaborate better with teammates meshing parts together becomes so much easier. Another plus is that you don’t have to worry about USBs, google drive or any of that junk. plus standard FRC parts are very easy to grab from other robot models. The only disadvantage is the always online features making it very hard to access at competitions plus the lag when you have many people editing the overall robot assembly is almost unbearable. Solid works definitely handles large assemblies better than both inventor and onshape

Fusion 360 can run on mac and limited features online.

Our team uses Inventor because of the school. I use Solidworks at work.

  • Onshape is a lite version of SW and Inv
  • Fusion is in my opinion as capable and in some areas more so thatn SW and Inv, the downside is that it can be more buggy
  • All are free for teams
    • Onshape and Fusion are free to all hobbyist

For a team, onshape will work for a long while. As you try to take on more, you may want to switch it out.

This was our first year using Onshape. In the past we’ve used Solidworks, Creo, and (even further back), Pro/E. The switch has been transformational. We had 12 different students and 3 mentors contribute to the CAD this year. Last year we had 1 of each. The ease of use and setup has allowed us to distribute the workload and create a higher quality robot than we ever have before, combined with our new CNC router.

I don’t anticipate us moving away any time soon, especially as features are added (we’re super excited to make some configurable assemblies this summer). I can see learning other software, but having used Pro/E, Creo, and Solidworks to design FRC robots before, I don’t think the features Onshape is lacking compared to those represent a significant downside compared to the features it does have, or that are more easily accessible in Onshape.

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We don’t have dedicated CAD computers, so we used to have kids bring in their laptops to install the ~11GB SolidWorks install file, it felt like most of the time we couldn’t get it to work or the kid had a macbook. Being able to register and be up and running with OnShape in 5-10 minutes was a godsend.