UPDATE: Engineering Applications on the Cloud

We found dozens of SaaS applications of use to engineers—and we’re just getting started.

Onshape, the CAD application that practically defines the category of software as a service (SaaS), can work on any computer or device that has a browser. (Picture courtesy of Onshape.)

Onshape, the poster child of software as a service (SaaS) in the design software category, can work on any computer or device that has a browser. (Picture courtesy of Onshape.)

UPDATED March 11, 2021. Several cloud based apps were suggested and have been added.

Software as a service (SaaS) is predicted for the next generation of engineering software with all its advantages for users as well as for its vendors. Vendors run SaaS applications on a remote server in the cloud. With number crunching done in the cloud, SaaS applications can run on any computer and on any device usually through a web browser. Users don’t need to have expensive workstations with equally expensive graphic cards to use this software. Users are also freed from installing and maintaining software. Their companies don’t have to hire IT resources to handle the installation and maintenance. For example, CAD managers using Onshape no longer have to shut down the design department—or work through the weekend—to update the CAD software. Somebody at Onshape does that, with no bother or interruption to the software’s users, save receiving a notification that new features have been added.

For vendors, the advantages are considerable. Users pay regularly, renting rather than owning the software. This avoids the need to have paid annual upgrades with a draught between them or a maintenance contract whose only purpose may be to insure against costly upgrades. By contrast, with SaaS software user revenue is based on license subscription—and the money flows regularly. And in the case of two software giants, Adobe and Autodesk, the flow is considerable. Both companies switched to subscription-based software platforms and generate millions more dollars now, without annual spikes, than they had with the previous generation of perpetually licensed desktop software.

What follows is an initial list of engineering applications that use the cloud by category, from fully cloud based to those that might use the cloud for part of their functionality—like storage.

If you know of others, please notify us in the comment section below. We will periodically update this list.


Onshape – professional, mechanical design that is fully based on the cloud, so it requires a constant connection to the Internet. The software requires no download, is free for personal use, and was created by the same team that created SOLIDWORKS. Acquired by PTC.

Fusion 360 – can do mechanical design, generative design, simulation, manufacturing (includes CAM), and electrical design, and it can be used without an Internet connection because it only uses the cloud for some processing and for storage. By Autodesk.

Envisioneer Online - fully cloud-based app for home design and remodeling. (Picture courtesy of Cadsoft.)

Envisioneer Online – fully cloud-based app for home design and remodeling. (Picture courtesy of Cadsoft.)

CATIA – cloud-based CATIA,
powered by 3DEXPERIENCE. By Dassault Systèmes.

Solid Edge Portal – online CAD management, viewing and collaboration. By Siemens.

ARES Kudo – view and edit DWG files on the cloud; works with Onshape. By Graebert.

CMS IntelliCAD – AutoCAD-like
CAD, but on the Web.

SculptGL – free online CAD software. By Stephane Ginier.

3D Sculptor – 3D design solution on the cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE platform for making organic surfaces with subdivision (Sub-D) modeling on a browser; includes the xShape app. By Dassault Systèmes.

EnSuite-Cloud ReVue – online CAD viewer. By CCE.

Viewing, Rendering and Collaboration

Envisioneer Online – easy to use, requires no installation, is guided by AI, and can be used for home design or remodeling. By Cadsoft.

new – cloud based rendering. By Migenius
(acquired by PTC)

Autodesk Viewer
new – full fledged viewer, multiple CAD formats
supported. Free.

3D Printing

MakePrintable – a cloud-based solution to analyze and repair 3D models for 3D printing. By Mixed Dimensions.


CAEplex new
– thermal and mechanical FEA in your browser. Free plan for up to 80K nodes. By

new – simulation powered by
3DEXPERIENCE. By Dassault Systèmes.

new – simulation in the cloud.

 SimScale – computer-aided engineering,
CFD, FEA on the cloud.

Onscale – multiphysics solver runs on the

Ansys Cloud –
cloud-based HPC for simulation.

Kaliedosim – scientific computing on
the cloud.

Rescale – cloud-based HPC; includes many CFD applications plus FEA, EMI and more.

SkyCiv – structural simulation for civil

ClearCalcs – thousands of formulas for
civil and structural engineers.


Electra Cloud
new – electrical schematic application. By
Radica Software.

Technical Documentation

cadasio new
– 3d animated interactive instructions from CAD data.

Mathematics and Graphing

MATLAB in the Cloud – use MATLAB on your browser. By MathWorks.

Mathematica Online – Mathematica on the cloud. By Wolfram.

Tableau Online – data
analysis and great graphs.


Aras – cloud-based PLM.

Arena – cloud-based PLM. Acquired by PTC.

Duro PLM new
– cloud-based PLM. By Duro.

new – enterprise cloud based PLM,
powered by 3DEXPERIENCE. By Dassault Systèmes.

OneIPM  new
– cloud-based project management for Onshape

Propel – cloud-based PLM.

Upchain – cloud-based PLM.

FusePLM – cloud-based PLM.

Teamcenter X – heavyweight of enterprise PLM—now on the cloud. By Siemens.

OpenBOM – online PLM. By Oleg Shilovitsky.

Kenesto – online PLM. By legendary CAD founder, Mike Payne.

Centro – online product information. By Actify.

Low Code

Mendix – cloud-based low code application. By Siemens.


MindSphere – industrial IoT as a service. By Siemens.

Intosite – cloud-based digital twins of factory floors, based on Tecnomatix. By Siemens.


SystemVision – electrical circuit diagrams on the cloud. By Siemens.

Electra Cloud – cloud-based electrical schematic software. By Radica Software.


  new – cloud-based CAM, powered
by 3DEXPERIENCE. By Dassault Systèmes.

– cloud-based tool-path generator for CAM, 3D printing and laser
cutting. By Grid Space.


Frame – runs desktop applications on cloud,
freeing local resources.