15 Replies Latest reply on Jun 26, 2018 2:08 AM by Asko Kauppi

    SolidWorks Add-On - GrabCAD Workbench

    Don Cheke

      Is anyone using GrabCAD Workbench? Is it really up to the task of being a PDM System?


      I have looked at using SolidWorks PDM Enterprise but the cost for what we need is just way too much. If GrabCAD Workbench is up to the task it might be a 'reasoinably priced' solution, but I would sure like some feedback from others that may be using it. OR another alternative(s).

        • Re: SolidWorks Add-On - GrabCAD Workbench
          Jerry Steiger



          I know nothing about GrabCAD Workbench, but Workgoup PDM is a reasonably priced solution and does all that many people need. You can get it by itself or by upgrading SolidWorks to Professional, which adds some other tools that you may find worthwhile.


          Jerry S.

            • Re: SolidWorks Add-On - GrabCAD Workbench
              Don Cheke

              Thanks Jerry,

              Our group has SW 2014 Pro. Because we have designers/users in different countries we were told that we would need the Enterprise version of SW PDM. Because the cost was going to be huge we were hesitant to proceed, hence the desire to look for something else. I will, however, reinvestiage this a bit more.

                • Re: SolidWorks Add-On - GrabCAD Workbench
                  Jerry Steiger



                  If you need tight integration between the far-flung groups, then WPDM could be a problem, since it only allows one Vault and some folks are going to be on the ends of very long, and probably thin, data pipes.


                  You might also look into dbWorks. I seem to recall that their workgoup level product, which is otherwise pretty similar in capabilities and costs to PDMW, allows you to have multiple Vaults.


                  Jerry S.

                  • Re: SolidWorks Add-On - GrabCAD Workbench
                    David Matula

                    Don Cheke wrote:


                    Thanks Jerry,

                    Our group has SW 2014 Pro. Because we have designers/users in different countries we were told that we would need the Enterprise version of SW PDM. Because the cost was going to be huge we were hesitant to proceed, hence the desire to look for something else. I will, however, reinvestiage this a bit more.

                    That is something else.  Limiting the growth of the company or use of a great tool by cost.  If one starts out with the work group pdm and then starts to grow the would either have to upgrade to enterprise or limit growth.

                • Re: SolidWorks Add-On - GrabCAD Workbench
                  Elise Moss

                  I have used GrabCAD and GrabCAD workbench (starting in beta) for about a year.


                  Here are pros and cons:




                  You don't have to install any software.  You don't even have to have SolidWorks.  You don't have to be the IT guy or pay an IT guy to set up your Vault, etc.


                  There is revision control, so if you need to download or view a down-rev you can.


                  You can mark up and easily track comments on a design.


                  You can easily see who is working on each project.  (I have multiple projects going at any one time.)


                  Easy to add and remove users


                  You get an email notification when a file is uploaded or a comment is made.




                  Sometimes the viewer doesn't work properly.  This has been a big peeve of mine.  I have set up conference calls where everyone is supposed to go into GrabCAD to look at the model and if the model isn't viewable - well, not much work gets done.


                  No real search capability - but that supposedly is in the works.



                  • Re: SolidWorks Add-On - GrabCAD Workbench
                    John Frahm

                    Bump to try to get newer feed back than 2014.

                      • Re: SolidWorks Add-On - GrabCAD Workbench
                        Brian McEwen

                        [original 2018-01-15]



                        Hopefully feedback is still useful to someone.  Yes, I'm using GrabCAD Workbench as our main file repository. We have a few thousand files in it. Vast majority is SolidWorks, but a bit of Inventor, Fusion 360, Excel, and .pdf.  Pdf because it does not display .slddrw, but it does autocreate .pdf of them with the GrabCAD SolidWorks add-in (it works better than the EPDM .pdf creator). We have only a couple CAD users, but a bunch more who use the browser version.


                        As you probably know it is currently free. But it is also neglected, they have not made any significant improvements in a couple years. The team has had other priorities on Stratasys related projects.


                        It is a great tool for keeping versions, and collaborating on a design (just need a browser to join in). The pins and comments are easy to use (in browser). The measure tool is decent. You can visually compare two versions of a part - it highlights differences. Partner Spaces are a very good idea for sharing with people outside your company.


                        It has a few bugs, but I've been able to work around all of them.  e.g. Sometimes the add-in will incorrectly identify a part as not being in the GrabCAD folder. It displays some things incorrectly in the browser viewer: sometimes configurations don't display right (what is visible gets mixed up), it doesn't "skip instances" when you pattern components. 


                        If you rename and move files around it is easy to erase the version history unless you do it the right way. The careful way is: step1) Rename (or move) in GrabCAD browser; step2) Without syncing in between, go do the exact same renaming with a SolidWorks tool to fix the CAD references. So yes, if you care about version history, you have to rename referenced parts and assemblies in two places. If you rename something that is not linked (.slddrw, .pdf, independent part) - you can simply rename in GrabCAD and then run a sync (with desktop tool).


                        In spite of some flaws I do highly recommend it as a PDM alternative.  I've been through the EPDM setup process and GrabCAD is so so much easier (and some aspects just work better), obviously a lot less control and customization is possible. GC Workbench has limitations when you get to large numbers of files and many of the specialized things you can set up in a real PDM.  Nonetheless, the core product works well, it has incredible potential, and I keep sending them ideas for how to fine tune it, (and they respond politely).   The search tool is good at finding any specific part, can't do everything. The versioning, simple revision stamping, and comments are great.


                        (Just throwing this out, but Autodesk A360 is a potential way to share and version multiple cad formats. I have not tried it much. But viewer is pretty good. Search tool not so good.  I'm just curious about it.)


                        Honestly, I want to get more people using GrabCAD Workbench. I feel like it is a product that could take off if there is a groundswell of support. I wouldn't mind if they created a paid subscription premium option (if it is cheap). It seems like a great fit for something like www.openbom.com  too.


                        Here is a case study article from GrabCAD. For what it is worth. Case Study: Biotech Mech Engineers get SolidWorks files organized

                        On the try it now side - if you have no PDM and you are just working on local files, there is no harm in trying out GrabCAD Workbench.

                          • Re: SolidWorks Add-On - GrabCAD Workbench
                            Brian McEwen

                            I thought of another thing that is somewhat of a hidden feature in GrabCAD Workbench.



                            GrabCAD seems to call them accounts, which doesn't convey quite the right info. It is a separate workspace, select relevant one at the time in the upper right of the browser.    For company work you probably only need one.  But if you are a consultant, or you use it for hobbies, then you can have different accounts (in your one login).       Accounts - GrabCAD Help Center


                            You would have to have multiple GrabCAD folders, in different parent folder locations I believe . . . [ <-- wrong,  took out more wrong stuff]  


                            I'm wrong, you can link up multiple accounts to app, see below:


                            Connecting to projects in other accounts

                            If you have access to more than one account, you can create connections to them in one of two ways:

                            • Change your default account by clicking "Change Default Folder and Account" in the settings menu. Then connect to the desired project, and change back if necessary.
                            • Create a manual connection by clicking "Manually connect project" in the main menu. Create a new folder wherever you like, including inside the default GrabCAD folder.

                            """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""  Workbench Desktop App user's manual - GrabCAD Help Center


                            This is also good to know about if someone else adds you to a shared project - and that is your first use of GrabCAD Workbench. Then GrabCAD will default to that account forever, unless you create another using the link above.

                            • Re: SolidWorks Add-On - GrabCAD Workbench
                              Asko Kauppi

                              Hi Brian,


                              I'd like to use GrabCAD Workbench on an open source hardware project, this autumn. Do you have ideas on how to improve the attention given to it (apart from just trying out, reporting bugs, like you have done)?

                          • Re: SolidWorks Add-On - GrabCAD Workbench
                            Don Cheke

                            I have been using GrabCAD Workbench since this thread was started and have found it a very good product for our team. I do have to send out reminders to more stubborn users to "please sync your files", which can suck. However, it works great for me as I do most of the file management, including managing the additional account I have set up on our main server, for non-CAD users to access.


                            I only have a couple complaints and will list them as I think they are valuable things to know.


                            1. If you delete a folder and all its contents the files disappear from your local computer, as does the folder. BUT the empty folder remains in the cloud and remains on fellow user’s local computers. As such, local users need to run a program such as "Remove Empty Directories" occasionally to clean them out. This program cannot be run on the cloud so one must manually remove them from there. GC Support says that this cannot be fixed without a major overhaul of the system and even then, they were not sure it could be done.


                            2. GrabCAD installs in the User Data as opposed to Program Files. Not a big deal unless your IT department makes changes that do not allow programs to install anywhere but the Program Files. I found that our IT department had made this change without telling us and when I needed to reinstall GrabCAD due to some computer issues I had a heck of a time figuring out why GC wasn't working. I finally had to have an IT person figure out how to install GC in the Program Files. Trouble with this is that if there is a GC update it will still want to install in the user data, not the program files. In communications with GC support, I was told that I would not need to worry too much as they didn't expect to have any updates for some time.


                            3, Since the original developer sold GrabCAD to StrataSYS and moved on, development has stagnated, as often happens when the 'visionary' moves on. June 2018, about 9 months since we saw SolidWorks 2018 come out and still no GrabCAD add-on for SolidWorks. I am assuming we have seen the last of the Add-in. That is too bad as I enjoyed using GC directly in SW.


                            I will continue to use GrabCAD Workbench as it has made work life better when it comes to file management.