While you might be aware of Onshape’s limited free plan for online 3D CAD, you might not be aware they offer an unrestricted version for education.
Onshape is one of a new class of 3D modeling tools that is available exclusively online. In fact, Onshape can be effectively used from a finger-operated tablet if you choose to do so. We took a close look at the tool about a year ago as it became visible in the market.
Up to now, Onshape has offered two methods of subscription: a “Pro” account that provided the ability to use an unlimited number of documents and storage, for USD$100 per month. The other method was a free account that was only limited by the number of private documents (ten) and storage (max 5GB).
Many people have tried both services, but now there’s a third: Educational.
The educational subscription is designed for use in schools by students and teachers, who can leverage the online sharing features in quite dramatic fashion: imagine a teacher working on a 3D model, demonstrating how to do something in particular, with students watching the same activity occur simultaneously on their own screens. Onshape’s ability to share documents with groups and work on them together seems like a very good match for the classroom. In fact, it’s also possible the class could be distributed around the world and still hold an effective session using Onshape.
The method Onshape has deployed this new option is interesting: there is no requirement for schools to sign up; instead, it’s simply done by students enrolling themselves. It seems that Onshape has a method of detecting qualifying school email addresses to certify acceptance into the program.
Once signed up - and it would be simple for an entire class to do so - all features are automatically enabled. As far as I can tell, the education subscription provides a service identical to Onshape Pro, with two caveats: each document created using the educational subscription will have a small “EDU” added to the document, and secondly such works cannot be used for commercial purposes.
Those limitations are certainly within the tolerance of all academic operations.
Students will have to re-enroll annually to ensure they’re still active in an appropriate educational institution.
For those schools looking for a powerful and inexpensive solution, or free in this case, Onshape is definitely something to look into.