Audio: Onshape chairman Jon Hirschtick on CAD, 3D printing, and more

Onshape's web-based software for designing products.
Onshape's web-based software for designing products.

My most recent Boston Globe column focuses on Jon Hirschtick and the team of entrepreneurs behind Onshape, a Cambridge startup that is launching the beta version of its product today. Hirschtick and several other key Onshape team members, like chief executive John McEleney, were previously founders of SolidWorks, a company that pioneered computer-aided design software for Windows PCs. This time, they’re building a Web-based application that will run on just about any device — including smartphones and tablets.

I had a chance to interview Hirschtick in late February at a TechSandBox event about his career thus far as an entrepreneur. He left MIT’s CAD Lab in 1987 to do his first startup, Premise Corp., with Axel Bichara of Bolt. He started SolidWorks in 1993, and sold it for $316 million in 1997. He began “putting the band back together” for Onshape in 2012. We talked about the CAD marketplace in general; raising $1.5 million in the late 1980s as a twentysomething; the difference between a potential market and an actual market; 3-D printing, including a Somerville company that Hirschtick has invested in, MarkForged; and augmented reality, since Hirschtick has been an adviser to Florida-based Magic Leap.

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Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
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