Will Subscription-based Pricing Models Remove Cost Barriers to 3D CAD?
Barb Schmitz posted on October 07, 2013 | 10647 views

Software can be expensive. As the number of free apps on mobile devices and tablets climbs past the million+ mark, people are increasingly unwilling to shell out a lot for software. As this app-hungry, price-conscious culture grows, many software vendors have reevaluated how they go about selling their software.

Let's face it; while 3D CAD software prices have fallen, it's still expensive. That's not a problem for larger companies with established design departments. For smaller companies and startups, however, the costs associated with installing CAD seats can be prohibitively expensive, even with the promised payoffs of higher productivity and fueled innovation.

Enter subscription models, a somewhat new business model—at least in the CAD world—that allows users to pay for CAD software on a monthly basis. The software is downloaded from or accessed via the web. This scalable pricing model opens up high-end technology to folks with low-end budgets. By removing the traditional cost barrier to 3D CAD, smaller companies with limited IT budgets can now leverage professional CAD tools when they need them while still managing cash flow.


Adobe and Autodesk move to Cloud-based subscription models
One of the cost requirements of design software implementations is the hardware required to run the software and develop increasingly large models. Enter the cloud. With the promise of “Infinite computing,” the cloud offers users nearly unlimited computing power, albeit constraints of bandwidth and connection must also be taken into consideration.

Adobe was the first in the design space to switch its Create Suite of apps over to a cloud-based, subscription-only model, meaning users now pay month-to-month, subscribing only when they need use of the software. Adobe's online Creative Cloud is priced to be cheaper than upgrading every release (approximately every 18 months). Moving forward Adobe says Creative Cloud will only be available via monthly subscriptions.

Autodesk was the first out of the gate in the traditional CAD market with subscription-based licensing of its Fusion 360 cloud-based, organic modeling tool.

The benefits of cloud-based CAD include lower costs, simplified implementation, easier scalability, and improved collaboration capabilities. Pricing for Fusion 360 is $25 to $50 per app, per user per month. However, the cloud-based package doesn't offer full-featured CAD functionality.

Skeptics, however, remain cautious about delivering these apps via the cloud, voicing concerns regarding the safety of design IP, as well as issues related to the performance when modeling complex 3D geometry over the web.


Solid Edge debuts subscription model, stays out of cloud
At the end of August, Siemens rolled out a new option to license Solid Edge software on a month-to-month basis to provide a more scalable pricing model that aligns more closely with users' specific projects and budgets. The subscription option makes it easier to get started with the software and lowers the total cost of ownership.

Unlike the Autodesk subscription-based model, Solid Edge is not cloud-based. Users access the monthly subscription license through the Solid Edge online store, and then download a full version and run it on their own machines, eliminating concerns involving the security of their design IP.

Siemens will offer both the perpetual and subscription options to customers.

Siemens was the first CAD vendor to offer a full professional version of its software on a monthly basis. Because the Solid Edge subscription offering is not cloud-based, users are getting the latest release of the full professional version of the software, not a new version developed for the cloud or a ported version of the existing software simplified to run over the web.

The flexibility of the Solid Edge licensing model enables customers to ramp up engineering resources to meet specific project demands and manage operating expenses by paying for software licensing only when needed. The subscription license does not require an annual commitment, and is one of the most flexible subscription plans on the market to date. An added benefit: it enables everyone—machinists, part-time employees or consultants, and vendors—to access the same professional software, for as little or long as they need it.

The monthly subscription to a full version of Solid Edge, is priced between $130-$350 per month, and is currently available in the U.S., U.K, and Japan. Users may select from four different versions of the software based on the functionality that is the best match to their specific needs. For more information on the new subscription and introductory pricing, visit the Solid Edge online store here.


Siemens has sponsored promotion of their design solutions on ENGINEERING.com. They have no editorial input to this post - all opinions are mine.  Barb Schmitz

Recommended For You