Oct 1, 2015 | By Alec

Key in 3D printing success is often the CAD software used for your design, and therefore we’ve been very interested in the development of the very ambitious and promising Onshape. CAD innovators Onshape, which launched their so far successful beta earlier this year, is especially fascinating for their cloud-based existence that works well in desktops and in smartphone/tablet apps and is clearly going places: they have just raised $80 million in new equity financing led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from existing investors New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Commonwealth Capital Ventures and North Bridge Venture Partners. To date, Onshape has raised $144 million in total funding.

For those of you who’ve missed the development of Onshape, it is one of those initiatives that is already capable of gathering steam just with names online. It has been founded by Jon Hirschtick, best known for developing SolidWorks way back in 1993. That SolidWorks was already a success before mainstream 3D printing, is proven by its sale to multinational Dassault Systemes for $316 million in 1997, and the software has been a flagship ever since.

However, in 2012, Hirschtick left Dassault to begin a second CAD revolution. ‘I was on a mission for end users and product designers and it was a fun, really successful ride,’ he told reporters of his exit, and Onshape was quickly born afterwards. Now employing about 80 people, this software is largely unique for its fantastic desktop/smartphone/tablet accessibility. Having been in development of three years, Onshape is designed with the purpose of working on large CAD files with large teams and many individual files. To do so, it relies simultaneously on the cloud and on your own processor to render complex CAD files. It can even be used in teams working on the same model simultaneously; you can even watch your colleagues edit files in real time.

It is also quite affordable, costing just $100 per month for unlimited storage and use – perfect for professional users and therefore many are predicting a bright future ahead. Onshape has been doing well in beta so far, with thousands of active users giving positive feedback. While not clear how many paying users have been generated so far, Hirschtick says a very satisfying portion has, and that it will only grow. ‘We’re optimistic that with a product like ours that no longer locks expensive software in stacks, we can involve many more people in the use of CAD data,’ he tells reporters.

The combination of this concept with this initial feedback, has been enough to raise some significant funding. ‘The tech and business press will inevitably focus on the dollar signs, but for us this new partnership means much much more. This powerful vote of confidence ensures that Onshape will continue its momentum as the only company in the world 100% focused on cloud and mobile CAD. We will prudently use the investment to ramp up our R&D and strong customer support as well as expand our global sales and marketing,’ the company says in response to this success.

However the Onshape team is, as they say, particularly pleased with the presence of Andreessen Horowitz, founded by Marc Andreessen who is famous for developing the first browser Mosaic years ago and has since successfully founded web successes like Twitter, Skype, Groupon, Instagram and Airbnb. ‘It’s that kind of experience that will guide and accelerate Onshape’s growth. They have helped scale some of the world’s most innovative technology companies to become necessities in people’s everyday work and personal lives,’ Onshape says.

Peter Levine of Andreessen Horowitz is also confident in Onshape’s success. ‘With every generational shift in computing, the markets get bigger because the tools become easier to use,’ he says to reporters. ‘Just as we saw with the transition from mainframe to PC to mobile, in the case of Onshape and CAD, I think we’ll see the creation of a whole class of micro-designers and micro-manufacturers who will be doing a lot more design work because the tools are readily accessible. If $8 or $9 billion is the estimate for the current CAD market — which, let’s be clear, is already huge — then one can expect that to double or triple.’ It is, in short, a CAD innovation that we will doubtlessly see a lot more of within the 3D printing community. 

 

 

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