How Design Teams Overcome Software Administration Problems and Forced CAD Upgrades

(The following is an excerpt of “The Design Gridlock Manifesto,” Onshape’s eBook exploring the numerous ways how old file-based CAD technology forces the design and manufacturing process to a complete halt – and sometimes even pushes it backwards.)

If you’re an engineer or a designer, you were hired to create things – not be an I.T. guy. And when you’re collaborating with other companies, those I.T. hassles only multiply. Let’s take a closer look at how old CAD software incompatibility problems can drag you down.

Let’s say that you and your external partners (designers, manufacturers, suppliers) are using the same CAD vendor, but you’re using version 2018 and they are using version 2017. In this scenario, you can’t read each other’s files. You will both be running in place until your partner pays for their forced upgrade and then installs it. Or you might be the one who needs to upgrade.

Once you do upgrade, however, the installation might cause more problems than it solves. Old file-based CAD is not backward compatible, even with itself. So your company needs to upgrade every installation it owns. Then you need to run through all your existing CAD files and update them to the new software version. Things can and do usually go wrong during this upgrade process, especially since that year’s worth of new code has not been used in production yet – so the odds of a negative interaction increase.

Even not including the required updates to a PDM system (if you have one), that’s a lot of IT overhead – and a lot of waiting for everyone on your team to get back to work.


Onshape automatically delivers new features and functionality in the cloud every three weeks at no extra cost. Nothing to download. Nothing to install. Every Onshape user in the world is always on the same software version – the latest one.

To get a quick overview of how frequent and significant these updates are, skim over the past few “What’s New in Onshape” blogs. Furthermore, new enhancements, features and improvements are prioritized based on customer feedback. Onshape users are helping create the modern CAD system they want and need.

Do you really want your best engineers wasting time on I.T. instead of designing?

Of course you don’t.


How Design Teams Overcome Software Administration Problems and Forced CAD Upgrades

When Cutsforth switched from SOLIDWORKS to Onshape, it significantly reduced its I.T. overhead.

Based in Ferndale, Washington, Cutsforth designs and manufactures best-in-class excitation brush holders and shaft grounding systems for some of the world’s largest power companies. Their client list looks like a “Who’s Who in Energy” directory, including companies such as Alcoa Incorporated, ConocoPhillips, Covanta Energy, ExxonMobil Corp., General Electric, Hess, National Grid, Royal Dutch Shell, and Wheelabrator Technologies.

Delivering an indispensable product that so many people depend on – Who doesn’t notice when the lights go out? – requires Cutsforth to move fast.

“We were SOLIDWORKS users and we loved SOLIDWORKS – It’s a great tool, but you have to keep doing upgrades,” says CEO Rob Cutsforth, who is also the primary product designer. “You have to upgrade every computer and upgrade your software and we’re a small company. We just don’t have the resources to maintain that when something breaks, something doesn’t work.”

“When you use CAD in the cloud, it’s amazing how many frustrations and headaches just go away,” he adds. “You just use the tool for what it’s supposed to do. We have never seen ourselves as I.T. people. We’re product development people.”

“Onshape takes on those I.T. responsibilities for us,” Cutsforth says. “And that helps everybody be as fast as they can be. I like that Onshape’s updates just come on a regular basis (every three weeks). They’re incremental improvements and you can easily absorb them. You learn about the new improvements and just keep going. It’s just much more efficient.”

Overcome Design Gridlock – Get the eBook

In “The Design Gridlock Manifesto,” you’ll read the most frustrating product development experiences of 15 companies and how they dealt with seemingly unavoidable delays in their design and manufacturing process.

If you’ve read this far, you won’t be surprised to learn that the common denominator for conquering gridlock is Onshape, the only modern CAD system that combines advanced modeling tools and design data management in a secure cloud workspace.

So now that you know that there’s a fast track to modernizing your company’s workflows, what are you waiting for? Get your free copy of “The Design Gridlock Manifesto” today!

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