Inside look into differentiations of Aras, 3DEXPERIENCE and Onshape

Inside look into differentiations of Aras, 3DEXPERIENCE and Onshape

Growing complexity and longevity of manufacturing products are raising questions about future CAD and PLM platforms. Platform is such a sweet word in a lexicon of software development and not only. Recently, the voices about creation of new product development, PLM, innovation and IoT platforms are getting more and more vocal.

I touched “platform” development many times in my earlier writing. Check some of them – Future PLM platforms: between a rock and hard place and Innovation platforms – a better version of  PLM walled garden; PLM platforms – future architecture options.

Differentiation is a big problem in engineering and manufacturing software including CAD and PLM vendors. My attention was caught by few recent publications made by CAD and PLM vendors that can give you some idea about differentiation between tools, technologies and platform.


Aras is an interesting PLM tool and technology which is emerging out of the vision of openness, open source and enterprise. Aras usually vocal about differentiation and uniqueness of Aras platform. Time ago I wrote an article about Aras differentiation. Check it here. This is how Aras is presenting their differences from other platforms and tools

One of the recent videos of Aras can give you an idea about Aras architecture, technology and differentiation.



Onshape is a modern CAD tool, platform and service available in a browser, which provides professional 3D MCAD system, but not only. Recent Onshape publication – Under the Hood or How does Onshape really work can give you an interesting perspective on specific Onshape differentiation factors.

So that’s not what we did. We wrote Onshape in a different way from the ground up, to provide capabilities not possible in traditional CAD systems, to take real advantage of the cloud, and to use both server and client machines to their fullest capabilities.

Onshape, on the other hand, is like any other large-scale modern cloud application – a collection of servers and services. They can run on machines optimized for their purposes; and the number of instances can be optimized so that they are always busy, but not overloaded, to make efficient use of resources.

Onshape stores its data not in files on a disk or in a PDM system vault, but in a database. And it doesn’t need to read and write all the data in a document every time it is opened or saved – we have no explicit “save” action at all. Instead, every change is recorded as an increment.

However, I’d not be calling Onshape CAD. It is data management platform with enterprise aspiration. Recent Onshape announcement about Onshape Enterprise is a signal that Onshape is shifting from CAD to a broader set of services.


Dassault Systemes 3DEXPERIENCE

Dassault Systemes 3DEXPERIENCE is not a completely new technology. It was built over the years from multiple product development, technology acquisition and new tools. I picked up Dassault Systemes presentation outlining differentiation of approach, vision, tools and technologies developed by Dassault Systemes.

If you want to go deeper in 3DX, I can recommend you the following CENIT presentation as well as set of articles and videos developed by Michael Finocchiaro – Demystifying 3DExperience.

What is my conclusion? I found a combination of these three vendors, tech and tools interesting.  DS 3DX is one of the largest players in CAD/PLM market is fighting for their position as a sustainable innovator in the industry. You can agree or disagree with their position, but a combination of tools and technologies is very unique. Aras Corp is also very interesting player. Aras tech is not new and coming close to 20 years mark. A combination of mature software platform not affected by M&A activities, solid customer base and very special business models put Aras in a very interesting competitive position. Onshape is a newest company in this group developing completely new technology which is not similar to anything else in the market. One of the biggest problem of engineering and manufacturing business is status quo of existing vendors. To fight status quo, companies need to come with strong differentiation strategy including technologies and business models. Recently I can see an uptake in new technologies and tools for engineers and manufacturing. It is an interesting time and I’m expecting to see lot of changes in coming 5-10 years. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.


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