Workbench - I am skeptical

I have recently set up a workbench account to test it out. It seems like it could be very useful, however I am very skeptical to use it. As a freelance Engineer for Pharma and Medical Device and Consumer products I have many sensitive files that I simply cannot share under my contract agreements. Since Workbench is offering unlimited storage and use for Free, I have to believe they would be using and sharing the user information, if not plainly, then somewhere in the fine print when we accept the terms and conditions. My assumption is based on the age old term "nothing in life is Free"

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5 Answers

Hey Lawrence,

Thanks for reaching out to us! Trusting in a third-party company when it comes to intellectual property would give anyone pause! We understand this, and we take the trust our customers put in us very seriously.

I want to assure you that we claim no ownership or right of access over user data hosted in GrabCAD Workbench projects. Users occasionally read our GrabCAD Community Terms of Service, and think that the public and open nature of GrabCAD Community applies to Workbench data too, but that could not be any further from the truth.

Any data stored with GrabCAD Workbench is both secure and private. Only those that you explicitly invite to your Workbench projects have access to the data within, and even then, you can restrict or customize access on a user-by-user basis by taking advantage of the provided User roles. If you would like to learn more about the security features and privacy policy of GrabCAD Workbench, please take a look at the GrabCAD security whitepaper.

As to the safety and stability of your data... GrabCAD's storage back-end is hosted on the Amazon data center, which is a SAS 70 Type II certified data center. Your files are transferred over a secure connection using 256-bit AES encryption. GrabCAD employs two factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access to account-specific data. Amazon's servers automatically replicate data across multiple data centers and are designed to deliver 99.999999999% durability. AWS storage solutions are designed to deliver robust data protection so your business never has to worry about where the data is.

Feel free to follow up with any questions you might have, and I would be more than happy to help clarify things for you.

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Hello, I work at GrabCAD/Stratasys, thought I'd provide you some quick answers to your question.

Firstly, we did use to charge a monthly fee for Workbench, before GrabCAD was bought by the much larger global company Stratasys. The original idea was to make Workbench into a widely-used file-sharing tool like Dropbox, but tailored to an engineer's specific needs. After the acquisition, we decided to focus on making the world's best 3D printing software, and all the effort of selling Workbench licenses, finding customers, billing them every month, etc., wasn't found to be worthwhile, since we had much larger (3D printing) fish to fry. So we currently make Workbench free for anyone to use with unlimited storage.

On your "Nothing in Life is Free" idea, that may be true when a company has only one product to sell, but diversified companies often give a smaller product away for free to get people interested in a larger one, especially in software. DropBox is free up to some point, then charges for extra storage. OnShape is free to some point, and charges for private files. Southwest Airlines checks your first bag for free instead of charging you for it. At the larger Stratasys/GrabCAD, our primary mission is to solve the 3D printing challenges of the world's largest and most forward thinking customers, mostly by selling commercial-grade printers and their materials. In case users also want to securely transfer files and collaborate on CAD projects, we currently give away Workbench for free.

Finally, about your Medical Device and Pharma sensitive projects: there are two big sets of laws in the US that govern a lot of the design work our customers do: HIPAA and ITAR.

HIPAA laws (summarized) mean that a medical patient's private identifying info cannot be electronically exchanged without their consent. For example, my x-rays with my name, DOB, and SSN on it. HIPAA generally does not mean that the design for medical DEVICES, (for example the CAD file of the machine that took my xray) cannot be exchanged electronically. Consult your own legal counsel, but in general, we have many small device manufacturers using Workbench to securely collaborate on medical or safety devices, since pure CAD designs do not usually contain any identifying patient info.

On ITAR: that is mostly a military/national security thing that DOES restrict the electronic exchange of sensitive technical documents, so putting up the official design for the F-22's radar system, even without identifying data, would be considered an ITAR violation. Again, consult your own legal counsel, but sensitive designs like nuclear devices or military-grade aerospace parts are typically NOT put up on Workbench, even though it is secure, much like you would not be able to even email those documents to yourself over an open network without breaking ITAR.

All that said, we do have many freelance designers using Workbench to collaborate with their distributed clients since it's a more secure, more capable way than Dropbox or Google Drives to show, store, revision control and get feedback on CAD documents. If you have any more questions on this, feel free to contact me at and I can put you in touch with someone who can explain security or our conditions better.

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@ Matt and Shuvom,

I will summarize my reply to both of you at once to save time....Thank you both for your input, and mostly thanks for not taking my comment as negative. I have only just started to explore Workbench, even though I have been a big fan of GrabCad for many years and also familiar with Stratasys in that I do a lot of printing for my clients. I typically always have an order out there for 3D prints for prototyping (I dont have a printer, I simply outsource my 3D printing).

Anyhow, I started looking at Workbench due to frustrations with my Microsoft OneDrive Business storage. I moved from DropBox Pro simply because I was already paying for OneDrive Business so I figured I would save a little money...and have been regretting it since. I won't go into the why, but I am sure you all know the pains of using OneDrive without me explaining.

Being a Medical Device Engineer for the better part of a decade I am very familiar with HIPAA and ITAR, so yes, that was one of my concerns. The other concern actually is the possibility of my data simply being mined and having the info sold to 3rd parties, or getting spam emails based on my content. At the end of the day, I simply need security that everything I upload is private, with exception to the models I may choose to share with the community.

After reading both replies, I will certainly take a deeper look into workbench. What I would primarily use it for is exactly what I currently use OneDrive for, that is A: having my files work available o me on all of my devices B: Being able to grant clients permissions to view, comment and download their files, C: Having the revision system and D: Simply having it as a backup in the event that my workstation goes up in flames. (Don't laugh guys, I had a dell literally spontaneously catch on fire. Apparently the processor fan stopped and it overheated and burst into flames lol).

Thanks again for the information guys....I will be exploring Workbench deeper now.

I would sill like to hear comments from the community.

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Their Security Whitepaper passed our large, corporate, annoyingly paranoid I.T. departments scrutiny, and I've been using it extensively for around 3 years with small project development teams.

We use it primarily for it's versioning and PDM capability for the live CAD files, and it works great.

The collaboration tools are amazing as well, but I haven't yet been able to coax the community here to switch from the clunky old email-to-communicate paradigm. Stuck in their ways, they are.

Our "static" files, pdfs, .step output, .stl and the like are saved to a company internal network drive by document version so Grabcad PDM versioning of these types of files is redundant and our corporate community is already used to getting their stuff from the network anyway.

I have used the supplier permissions functionality a time or two, very cool, but we usually handle that kind of communication through a project managers email with attachments of the 'static' output. Rarely does anyone outside the organization need a 'live' CAD file.

I've never received any spam I would relate back to anything stored on workbench.

I've never had any trouble accessing my files. (except from behind our ANNOYINGLY PARANOID ultramegasuper corporate firewall.)

I don't have anything but praise to heap upon the Grabcad team and community. They are quick to respond, very helpful, and have even worked directly with our IT department to get things running here.

As with anything, your mileage may vary, but that's been my experience so far.

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Thanks for the detailed response. I truly appreciate you taking the time to be so thorough. I am very happy to hear the praise as I do like what I see so far.

Regarding the IT department approval, Well if they are anything like the typical IT guys I have worked with in years past before I started working on my own, all it takes to motivate them is a free sandwich asn a six pack. Not so easy getting approvals from the medical device quality departments. They will take the free sandwich and beers, but more often than not will still turn ya down :)

Working with OneDrive Business is easy as far as regulations simply because its Microsoft and most companies use it themselves.

I think I will submit a white paper to one of my clients QA departments to see what they say.

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