The Future of Engineering Communities

The Future of Engineering Communities

Almost a half year ago, I had a chance to grab a coffee with GrabCAD’s Hardi Meybaum in one of Starbucks’ coffee shops around Chestnut Hill, MA. We discussed his start up and the vision of community behind GrabCAD. That meeting made me think about the future of marketplaces and engineering. Navigate your browser to the following link, if you missed my post about that.

A couple of days ago, I’ve read in the news that GrabCAD was selected by TechStars Boston Class. Here is the quote from Boston Innovation: Techstars Boston has just announced the newest class of startups for its spring accelerator program. These lucky startups will work under a strong network of mentors for the next three months in their fancy new Boston office in Kendall Square. GrabCAD was mentioned as following: GrabCAD is a unified CAD services marketplace, cross-platform CAD library and an engineering community.

Content, Community, Social

It made me think more about how the future of engineering communities. Actually, I found that “community” topic is trending. After a tremendous success of Facebook, social technology and community sounds to many people as a future next big thing. Well, you hardly can miss the point when absorbing half billion users under the wings. In my view, a strong community can be built only around strong content. You’ve got a content – community will come. It happened to many companies in Web 2.0 universe. However, adding of “social” element is what actually “put icing on a cake”.

Existing Community Development

Large companies in Enterprise and CAD/PLM space recognized the power of communities and social technology trend. Almost all vendors came (or coming) with kinda-social-tool. The best examples, in my eyes, are’s Chatter and Dassault’s 3Dswym (including. DS Draft Sight).

Does GrabCAD Fits?

The real innovation GrabCAD brins to the market is an innovative “service model”. It is not so clear to me how it will work. However, thinking about people ordering an engineering service via a website, make a lot of sense to me. And this trend will increase. Another interesting notion is “a cross-platform CAD libraries”. This is another strong point. Exiting CAD vendors are struggling with the defenses related to private CAD formats they developed. To go and cross the lines can be an interesting experience.

What is my conclusion? The most important question I’m asking is if GrabCAD will be able to mobilize a sufficient amount of “social supporters”. These people will embrace the existing GrabCAD libraries and services’ website and bring the ultimate value of online content to engineering. Remember, few days ago, I was looking for how to “get the job done” in PLM definitions post. The notion of “I need CAD work done” is a powerful one is a right pass to go in my eyes. Just my thoughts. What do you think?

Best, Oleg


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  • Asko Kauppi

    My company is a potential customer of this talent (buying CAD work online). I can see GrabCAD being splendid – and equally likely I can see them fail. It all comes to execution and the *details* from now on.

    What’s important for me is the quality of the work. Maintainability. Lasting connections with the people who’re doing it. In the dream world, we can have integrator CAD knowledge in-house but outsource all the tiny (and bigger) bits via GrabCAD.

    If the quality is not consistent, this surely won’t work. Then again, haven’t we been doing this kind of outsourcing for software for decades? Same game. And with modern CAD (simulation features etc.) it actually feels more and more like software (less and less like drawing).

    Long live GrabCAD! (but do pay attention to the Details!)

  • beyondplm

    Asko, thanks for the comment! I know, Hardi Meybaum is reading my blog, so hopefully GrabCAD will take it into the account. I agree with you about the quality. For such type of a work, it will be the key! Best, Oleg