Ondsel: The Commercial Upgrade to FreeCAD with Enhanced Collaboration and Tools

By on May 29th, 2024 in news, Software

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3D modeling in Ondsel ES [Source: Fabbaloo]

I’m looking at a new 3D modeling tool, Ondsel.

You may have not heard of Ondsel, and there’s a very good reason for that: it was formed only in 2023, not too long ago.

Ondsel is basically a commercialized and more polished version of FreeCAD, a popular open source tool that’s often used by the 3D print community. FreeCAD provides general-purpose parametric solid object modeling capabilities, along with related functions.

Why commercialize the software? Ondsel explains:

“Ondsel Engineering Suite (ES) provides collaboration features, new tools and workflow improvements, as well as user experience polish currently unavailable in vanilla FreeCAD.”

And what are those improvements and tools? One of them is Ondsel Lens, a cloud-based service for storing and sharing files. This feature enables easy use of FreeCAD (oops, I mean Ondsel) among a dispersed team. That alone vaults Ondsel up a notch for use in larger projects.

There’s more:

“Ondsel ES also provides early access to the new integrated assembly workbench scheduled to be included in FreeCAD 1.0. Additionally, Ondsel ES ships with various Sketcher improvements: easier dimensioning, simplified constraining, tool settings, and new transformation tools.”

Ondsel is available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS (intel and Apple Silicon).

I was able to download a version of Ondsel ES and gave it a whirl. As you might expect, it looks extremely similar to FreeCAD, as shown at top. I’m not personally familiar with FreeCAD, so I could not build anything substantial. However, I was able to easily import FreeCAD example files, which I found at GitHub, where there are hundreds of FreeCAD files available. The particular model used is from Page 37 of the “100CadExercises” file.

This shows the compatibility between FreeCAD and Ondsel. Evidently the tools are so similar that Ondsel said there is 100% file compatibility. This shows what they are really doing here: adding functions on top of FreeCAD, not so much changing it.

While FreeCAD is fully open source and freely downloadable, using Ondsel can incur some costs.

Ondsel Inc is a US “public benefit corporation”, which is defined by Ondsel as follows:

“The main difference between public benefit corporations and C corps or LLCs is that in case of PBC the notion of stakeholders expands to include employees, suppliers, customers, community, environment. This gives mission-driven businesses and social entrepreneurs the legal framework to operate in the best interest of more than just shareholders.”

It’s a good story, and Ondsel Inc was founded by FreeCAD project contributor Brad Collette. They simply want to make FreeCAD better in ways that cannot be easily done in the open source model.

But what about those costs? There are three levels.

The “Solo” level is absolutely free and provides full access to all CAD functionality. This makes sense because you can get most of that from FreeCAD anyway. However, you also get limited access to the cloud storage system, and uploaded models are considered “public”. This is similar to OnShape’s pricing model.

The “Peer” level is US$10/month, and provides up to 10GB storage in the cloud, and allows for private files. This is likely where most professionals using the tool will land.

Finally, there is the “coming soon” “Enterprise” tier, which allows much more cloud storage and additional abilities to manage teams of modelers.

Ondsel presents a very interesting option for those using FreeCAD: continue to use the base open source tool, or, if you require additional functionality you can upgrade to Ondsel.

Via Ondsel

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!