Onshape Live 2021 Points to Bright Future Ahead

Written By: Molly Isadora Sadoff
  • 3/18/2021
  • Read Time : 4 min

Success should be celebrated – and on Thursday, March 11th, Onshape did just that by holding their first-ever user conference: Onshape Live ‘21. For an audience of Onshape users, students & educators, channel partners, user groups, analysts & media, application partners and Onshape employees, Jim Heppelmann, CEO and president of PTC, and Jon Hirschtick EVP, General Manager, Onshape and Atlas at PTC, provided insight into Onshape’s success, reviewed major milestones since its acquisition by PTC in 2019, and included some exciting future-facing potential.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the benefits of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) CAD environment very clear. Heppelmann noted that when businesses and schools sent employees and students home, Onshape allowed users to continue their CAD projects seamlessly. Collaboration on projects in a remote environment sounds like a difficult task, but with Onshape, all users are able to access all of the functionality and latest data across devices. In the education space, Onshape is maintaining momentum for valuable STEM programs and competitions.

Onshape came to PTC as a best-in-class SaaS product development platform, and PTC is committed to embracing the power of SaaS to deliver innovative, cutting-edge solutions to customers. Heppelmann outlined the key areas where PTC is investing in Onshape:

  • Talent & Resources: PTC has nearly doubled the Onshape team since the acquisition and is committed to hiring more talent for both the Onshape product development and Onshape customer success support teams.
  • Education Success: PTC has pivoted the PTC Academic team to support Onshape’s education users. Onshape is the only CAD education solution that runs on any device, making it critical for remote education. The increase of support allowed Onshape’s education sector to reach 1 million users.
  • Acquisitions for New Features: To put even more power into Onshape’s platform, PTC has acquired ECAD/MCAD (allowing users to design and create electronic structures and mechanical systems), migenius (allowing for a full SaaS use of rendering), and Arena Solutions (the industry’s leading SaaS PLM solution).
  • Sales & Marketing Investment: Resellers have been added from PTC’s Channel team to complement Onshape and get the product into larger companies, with the goal of making Onshape a household name while accelerating success.

Onshape is also helping PTC accelerate its SaaS capabilities across PTC Atlas, a platform of powerful core services that can be used to power many applications. Three products are now shipping on PTC Atlas: Onshape, Vuforia Expert Capture, and Creo Generative Design Extension (GDX).

“This is all part of a bigger story we’re watching unfold. We are the early pioneers of something much bigger than next-gen CAD,” said Heppelmann. “It’s the dawn of a disruptive new approach to product development.”

A Disruptive Technology

Heppelmann previously has referred to Onshape as an “electric vehicle” compared to hardware-bound CAD products as a regular vehicle; however, at Onshape Live he noted this view is limited. Now, the product development field has reached the tipping point of SaaS adoption and the momentum is “unstoppable.”

Onshape has disruption power – allowing the user to design when and where they want – not tied to ownership, updates, and install of software across company systems. This frictionless process allows Onshape to be used anywhere, anytime, and, Heppelmann predicts, will fundamentally change the way people and teams collaborate on ideas and products.

SaaS CAD is as much of a disruptive pattern to the design process as Airbnb, Venmo, and Amazon are to their respective industries, Heppelmann said. Examples of Onshape’s disruption pattern are clear: from education, where students can work on projects across platforms and school-issued devices, to PPE manufacturers working in real-time remotely across projects in the race against time to save lives during the early days of the pandemic.

Bringing Depth and Breadth to Onshape

The day’s keynote session continued with powerful insights from Jon Hirschtick, EVP & General Manager, Onshape and Atlas at PTC.

“Onshape Live 2021 is not only a celebration of the strength of the software, but also a celebration of the community (of Onshape users),” Hirschtick said. He pointed out further dimensions of Onshape’s progress, which include:

  • 16 major releases (new functionality which extends the strength and depth of Onshape)
  • Ideation & creation of the PTC Atlas platform (basing further products like Vuforia Expert Capture on the Onshape core platform)
  • Creation of Onshape Education Enterprise (putting powerful tools into schools and creating the ability to centrally administer student education at scale)
  • Certification programs (showing colleagues and employers Onshape expertise at a Professional or Associate Certification level)
  • Sales growth by 70 percent (with more partners, vendors and customers getting to know Onshape)
  • Product is now available in seven languages, with more coming soon
  • User groups grew and are virtually organized by interest and geography 

As a result of these dimensions of progress, Onshape is poised for an even better 2021. The future looks to bring:

  • More product breadth and depth with more features in core areas, better performance, and new areas of functionality, like fully integrated rendering and generative design.
  • Investment in teams and systems, especially for customer support and service worldwide.
  • Focus on the education product, which will include product features geared specifically to education users and expanding PTC Academic team to support customer success in academia.

Hirschtick closed by noting Onshape is still at the beginning of the journey – “the benefits and successes for our customers, partners and education ecosystem can only go up.”  

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About the Author

Molly Isadora Sadoff

Molly Isadora Sadoff is a project manager for Corporate Marketing at PTC. She started with the company in 2019, working on the Global Partner Marketing team, where she collaborated cross functionally with internal teams to design, develop, and manage global marketing programs. Molly previously worked for several life sciences startups running their events strategy and programs. She is a graduate of the University of Hartford and in her free time enjoys hiking, kayaking and adventuring with her dog, Henrietta.