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Resources3D Printing DesignSolidWorks® vs. Onshape® – Software Comparison
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SolidWorks® vs. Onshape® – Software Comparison

Xomety X
By Team Xometry
June 7, 2024
 8 min read
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SolidWorks® and Onshape® are both computer-aided design (CAD) software that allows engineers and manufacturers to draw 2D and 3D models and simulate their designs as drawings, parts, or assemblies. SolidWorks is the more-established software with a larger market share that uses device-based software with more functionality and processing power than Onshape. Onshape is a newer CAD software that is generally regarded as cheaper and more user-friendly. Onshape uses cloud-based software which allows for better collaboration and models which can be accessed from multiple devices.

What Is SolidWorks?

SolidWorks is CAD software that can be used to create 2D drawings, 3D parts, and assemblies. SolidWorks is also known as computer-aided engineering software as it can also perform functions such as finite element analysis (FEA) by which a computer can simulate how a design will respond to loading. 

What Is Onshape?

Onshape is a CAD software system that is predominantly cloud-based. Onshape can be used to create 2D drawings, as well as 3D parts, and 3D assemblies. The unique feature of Onshape is that it is cloud-based which means all of the processing is done by cloud computing. Being cloud-based also means that Onshape documents are live and can be modified by more than one person at once. 

SolidWorks vs. Onshape – Use Cases and Applications

Both SolidWorks and Onshape are used by engineers, designers, and manufacturers to create 2D drawings and 3D models. SolidWorks has specific functionality that is better suited for: aerospace, construction, marine and offshore, transportation, and industrial equipment. In comparison, the functionality of Onshape is better suited to the automotive, electronics, machinery, medical, and energy industries. The main selling point for Onshape though is collaboration. Onshape uses a cloud-based program which means it is better suited to collaboration as it can be accessed by different people using different devices at the same time. 

SolidWorks vs. Onshape – System Requirements

SolidWorks is a file-based system that is installed on the computer you use to access SolidWorks. This means you will need a powerful computer that can handle the processing requirements of the application. Comparatively, Onshape is a cloud-based application which means it can be accessed with any device with an internet connection, which can include: a desktop, laptop, or phone. However, this means an internet connection is always required for access. 

What Is the Operating System of SolidWorks and Onshape?

SolidWorks is much more limited than Onshape in its choice of operating systems, SolidWorks can only be used on a Windows operating system. Onshape can be used on iOS, Android, Linux, macOS, and Windows. The advantage of being cloud-based is that Onshape can be accessed from different devices with different operating systems. 

What Is the Minimum Memory of SolidWorks and Onshape?

The amount of memory required for SolidWorks will vary depending on the SolidWorks system being used. There are three levels of SolidWorks systems, broadly speaking, there is a basic, intermediate, and advanced system. For a basic system 8 GB is required, for intermediate 16 GB, and for advanced 32 GB is required. This is different from Onshape which is run online. Onshape can be run on any device with any storage size as long as it has an internet connection. 

What Are the Supporting File Formats of SolidWorks and Onshape?

SolidWorks saves files natively as one of the following: SLDPRT, SLDASM, SLDDRW, or SLDDRT. However, SolidWorks can also import and export files in over 30 different file types with the use of Spatial’s 3D InterOp tool. The most common neutral file formats used to import or export are: IGES, STEP, or STL. Onshape files are stored on a cloud service, so the file format is not important. Onshape can also import files from universal formats such as: ACIS, JT, STEP, IGES, Parasolid, OBJ, and STL. 

SolidWorks vs. Onshape – User Experience

The user experience of Onshape is generally rated to be better because it is easier to use day to day. This is because Onshape files are stored in the cloud meaning users do not have to have very expensive hardware to operate it and can access their files off of any device. On the other hand, SolidWorks is a better experience for professional CAD users who model complex shapes. 

Learning Curve of SolidWorks and Onshape

The learning curve of SolidWorks and Onshape is comparable as they both similarly do similar tasks. However, it should be noted that Onshape is generally considered to be easier to learn as it has more limited functionality and more inbuilt assumptions. There is a trade-off, however, as Onshape is more limited in what it can do due to this limited functionality and built-in assumptions. 

Is SolidWorks Easier Than Onshape?

No, SolidWorks is not generally considered easier than Onshape. This is because Onshape has slightly more limited features which means there are some inbuilt assumptions that the system operates on. This makes it easier for a novice to pick up and use. In certain situations in which the user is trying to model a more complex part, SolidWorks could be easier as it has more features. These enable the user to better achieve what they want to model. 

SolidWorks vs. Onshape – Application Stability

The lag and crashes experienced by SolidWorks and Onshape will vary as they work in different ways. SolidWorks uses device-based software which takes a lot of processing to run, especially for more-demanding tasks. The amount of lag and crashes will vary depending on the device used. That being said, if the device being used has enough power, the lag and crashes can be minimal. The problem with SolidWorks is that if it crashes work can be lost. With Onshape the processing power is not a concern as the processing is done in the cloud. This means crashes are less likely to happen, and if the device being used crashes then the information will always still be saved on the server it is operating on. Onshape can however experience lag with a poor internet connection. 

SolidWorks vs. Onshape – Customer Support

SolidWorks is a very large and established software, so it has many resellers and the customer support is mainly from the resellers. Therefore the support will vary depending on the reseller. Currently, Onshape is a newer software with fewer users, this has meant that requests made by end users to Onshape seem to be taken on board and result in changes to the software. SolidWorks however, is too large now to be agile enough to respond to its community in a quick time. This means currently Onshape will generally have better customer support. 

SolidWorks vs. Onshape – Community

When it comes to community support, there is information out there on both. However, due to SolidWorks’s age and its higher market share, there is more information on how to use it. Both have their forums run by their company, as well as Reddit pages and YouTube channels for support. However, there is more help with SolidWorks. 

SolidWorks vs. Onshape – Price

The price of Onshape is much lower than SolidWorks. Even though SolidWorks comes with some more functions than Onshape the better value for money would be Onshape. However, if your application requires more functionality then there are just some things that Onshape can’t do. It is also important to note that Onshape reports having fewer costs throughout its subscription because work is not lost when computers crash and files are unsaved, as often happens with device-based CAD programs. 

Other Alternatives to SolidWorks and Onshape

There are many alternatives to SolidWorks and Onshape, many of which will be very similar at a basic level and will vary more as the functions become more complex. Alternatives include: AutoCAD®, CATIA®, Autodesk Inventor®, and Altium®. AutoCAD® is best for creating 2D drawings but is more limited than other software when it comes to 3D drawings. CATIA® is best known for its ability to handle complex designs and its advanced capabilities, however, it is less user-friendly. Autodesk Inventor® is best known for its 2D and 3D design for mechanical engineering applications. Altium® is CAD software specifically for printed circuit board design. 


This article presented SolidWorks and Onshape, explained each of them, and discussed how each software works. To learn more about 3D printing software, contact a Xometry representative.

Xometry provides a wide range of manufacturing capabilities, including 3D printing and other value-added services for all of your prototyping and production needs. Visit our website to learn more or to request a free, no-obligation quote.


The content appearing on this webpage is for informational purposes only. Xometry makes no representation or warranty of any kind, be it expressed or implied, as to the accuracy, completeness, or validity of the information. Any performance parameters, geometric tolerances, specific design features, quality and types of materials, or processes should not be inferred to represent what will be delivered by third-party suppliers or manufacturers through Xometry’s network. Buyers seeking quotes for parts are responsible for defining the specific requirements for those parts. Please refer to our terms and conditions for more information.

Xomety X
Team Xometry
This article was written by various Xometry contributors. Xometry is a leading resource on manufacturing with CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, 3D printing, injection molding, urethane casting, and more.

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