off scad, onshape

A project log for Medcheck

IoT pill dispenser with alerts to ensure compliance

bsuttonbsutton 06/08/2015 at 12:120 Comments

I'm a big fan of open source and being a Ubuntu Gnome desktop user it generally fits my environment nicely.

Now I'm no CAD user, but during a former life I was a programmer, so when looking for a CAD solution OpenSCAD was a logical choice.

I've been using OpenSCAD on and off for a couple of years and generally I've been pretty happy with it.

The problem with MedCheck is that I've really felt that I've hit the wall with complexity when using OpenSCAD.

Even with a strong background in programmer and the accompanying understanding on how to structure a program, the reality is that when doing CAD you need to be able to easily visually align things. With a complex model OpenSCAD starts falling apart.

So I finally decided that I need to learn a traditional CAD tool, only problem was that running a Linux desktop makes this is a little problematic.

My first choice was to have a look at freeCAD which is actually based on OpenSCAD, so a fairly logical move and it runs on Linux. Only problem was that it was just a little too buggy, so I went looking again.

My brother (another maker in the family) then mentioned that he had come across a CAD system that was entirely web based, no install necessarily (runs using WebGL).

So with some skepticism I want a searching and found OnShape.

No, OnShape isn't open source (they raised $65M in seed funding), but to be honest after using it for a few weeks I don't care.

Its pure web based (with a beta IOS app and Android on its way) and to be honest, remembering I wouldn't know good CAD if I fell over it, it's fantastic. For a complete non-CAD user it's quite intuitive and I've managed to put a model together in a couple of weeks compared to months with OpenSCAD.

So the good news. OnShape is effectively free for Makers. The free version gives you five private model and an unlimited no. of public models (up to 5GB) , but the reality is that this is more than enough for most Makers. There is a paid pro version which allows you to store a greater no. of 'private' models and 100GB of storage. The free version has all of the features of the pro-version apart from the above noted limitations.

OnShape is still in beta but appears to be very stable. Oh, did I mention it has built in version control and multiple users can work on the same model simultaneously!

My opinion is that these guys are going to blow everything else out of the market and that makers will flock to this product.

And no I don't own any shares on OnShape, but I do know a good product when I see one.

Go try it out and find out for yourself.