When GrabCAD was announced, I was actually a little excited. Not that the world needed yet one more online CAD library, but that this was a universal library for all MCAD software products. The simple fact that any user of any MCAD software could share their models in a non-exclusive environment was the differentiator between GrabCAD and other model libraries. And the fact that a sales person is not going to call me and follow up on the model I downloaded from the (supplier’s) website is an added bonus.
Back that up with powerhouse advisers like Josh Mings and Deelip Menezes, and the potential for a winning website is really taking shape. Using a standard social media wall as the front end with powerful search features to find that model you’re looking for, and the benefits continue to add up. I also like the feature to request a model that isn’t there yet. True, the traffic on the website is still growing so getting that request filled in a timely manner may not happen, but at least the door is open for the altruistic nature of future generations determined to help others out of the goodness of their heart.
This isn’t your standard CAD library either, filled with simple parts like washers, bolts, and nuts. These are full up assemblies of some pretty incredible parts. I took a screen capture of some of the latest additions to give an example.
GrabCAD also has a decent list of Partners, making me believe that this website is here to stay, once I figure out what their business model is, that is. Did you also know that have a blog? You have to scroll past all the front page updates to get to the links in the footer to find it (an improvement they could make to their website layout), but it’s there.
As someone who does freelance work, I’m always interested in finding new places to find work. I’m still waiting for this to develop. I know that entering into the engineering and design marketplace is not easy. Critical mass has to be reached very quickly for it to be sustainable – both with available jobs and talent to fill those jobs. Competition with sites like guru.com or elance.com is also difficult. Building a trust between supplier and buyer, an easy escrow system to exchange funds, and a secure place to handle proprietary information is a big hurdle that many marketplaces never pass.
I wish GrabCAD the best of luck in their future. If businesses like GrabCAD grow, then there is a chance for other businesses to grow as well. Symbiotic relationships are only beneficial if both entities find value, and an engineering marketplace is a symbiotic relationship among all parties involved.