I bet you’re squeezing a giant pot pie into your mouth right now. I am. In fact it’s one of my favorite things to do while sharing and discussing 3D models amongst friends. GrabCAD is where it’s all happening.

We covered GrabCAD when it first came on the scene as a place to outsource your design ideas. They’ve grown, adjusted, sprouted some fat ol’ love handles of the 3D modeling variety and have now, become a place to share your models. At it’s heart, it’s a community and, I believe, adding some much needed simplicity to sharing models.

CAD Library?

Yep, I know. The thought of it is exciting, right? Really though, GrabCAD is taking it a step beyond that. A step I’m really not the most attracted to at first glance, because… sharing and discussing your CAD models? C’mon, hasn’t that been done? Yes, but I’ve got to admit, it’s a little different.

How is it different/better than other sites?

You may be familiar with sites like 3DContentCentral (3DCC). It’s a large community without a doubt. You can share content, download other people’s content and find components created by the actual supplier. 3DCC does have a strong community aspect, but it does focus heavily on the supplier content. That’s not bad, it’s just where it differs from GrabCAD. GrabCAD focuses on the members and the content they create. It’s raw, yes. You can only download the model in the software it was created, but it’s as much about the connections you’re making as it is about the models you’re sharing.

New Features

Along with the new website look, they’ve got a slew of features to which they’re adding to and developing weekly.

  • Create and fill profile info to increase visibility and build your reputation
  • Upload CAD model to show your skills and get feedback for your models
  • Search other engineers and their CAD models
  • Follow professionals, friends and co-workers to see what they are up to
  • Browse and download in Library to get ideas for design and reuse other engineers work
  • Connect your profile with Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, OpenID

How I’ve found it useful

This is a great resource for finding example models and to communicate with others about their models. I’ve made connections by following people (much like on Twitter) and can contact them to find out more about what they do and their models.

How it could be better

Right now, there’s a lack of models. GrabCAD has just started out though, so that’s understandable. While it has some cross communication with other social sites, this could be complimented with a link between GrabCAD and the other service. It’s not the most important feature, but it is a social site after all. Having a batch upload would aid in uploads of large amounts of data. As it is now, you upload a single file and specifics one at a time.

Overall, this is a different sort of site in the CAD industry, kinda refreshing and some room for a lot of potential. They’ve also managed to get a round of funding during an economic downturn which, really, is nothing but impressive. We’ll see if they have what it takes to both go up against the larger CAD libraries sites and enter the very chubby world of social media. What do you think? Is there room for this kind of site?

Disclaimer: Josh Mings is on the advisory board for GrabCAD. Although he doesn’t get any kickbacks or hugs for writing up comments about GrabCAD, he has been promised use of the company toilet if he ever visits the office.


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.