News & Analysis

RS unveils new tools for DesignSpark community

24th January 2023
Mick Elliott

DesignSpark, RS Group’s online community for engineers, is now offering a suite of design tools including DesignSpark Mechanical and DesignSpark PCB.

It also brings comprehensive 2D/3D and electronics part libraries, and a host of design resources such as technology articles, projects and community forums.

Unveiled today (January 24), this next phase in the DesignSpark engineering community has been designed to present an enhanced and increasingly personalised experience for members.

The new DesignSpark will offer three subscription levels, respectively called: ‘DesignSpark Explorer’, ‘DesignSpark Creator’ and ‘DesignSpark Engineer’, which will enable members to select their own level of access according to their requirements for design tools and resources.

DesignSpark Explorer

Likely to suit students, makers, and designers, DesignSpark Explorer will enable members to retain the same community access and award-winning tools and design resources that they enjoy today – completely free – enabling them to quickly make the leap from concept to prototype.

Key tools available in DesignSpark Explorer include: DesignSpark PCB, the award-winning rapid-prototyping tool for circuit design that allows the creation of schematics, transfer to a PCB layout and preparation for production, all backed by pre-built component libraries and tools to ensure error-free PCBs; and DesignSpark Mechanical, a direct modeller that requires no prior experience with 3D CAD software and enables users to freely create and modify geometry. Excellent for prototyping and conveying requirements to the engineering team, DesignSpark Mechanical enables the rapid prototyping or reverse engineering of any physical object.

In addition to engineering support and public forums within the DesignSpark engineering community, DesignSpark Explorer subscribers will continue to have access to more than 100 million 3D models and 2D symbols for circuit design, and the ability to perform searches on one billion parts, accessing data sheets and part lifecycle status information.

DesignSpark Creator

For users looking for even more advanced tools and resources, further DesignSpark options are now available featuring design tools with enhanced features. For example, and ideal for serious makers, pro-makers and SMEs, DesignSpark Creator, at a price of £9.99 per month, will offer the same tools and resources available in Explorer, but will also provide an enhanced version of DesignSpark Mechanical. This will include a 3D Mirror tool and detailing tools to annotate parts and create manufacturing drawings, and enhanced part libraries that provide further intelligence on component capabilities and status. In addition, there will be skills and learning videos, tutorials and tips contributed by experts from the DesignSpark community.

DesignSpark Engineer

Additionally, DesignSpark Engineer, at a price of £14.99 per month, brings the ultimate in design creativity and flexibility for the most demanding users, making it ideal for professional-level design engineers. DesignSpark Engineer offers the same enhanced features of DesignSpark Mechanical available in DesignSpark Creator and expands significantly on DesignSpark PCB with a new advanced feature set, including the use of blind and buried vias for high-density PCB design, custom pad shapes, differential pair routing for high-speed signals, a panels editor, and hierarchical schematic block capability. As well as the high support levels available in Creator, DesignSpark Engineer also provides even more parts intelligence data, including export compliance data and PCN/EOL notifications, plus aid with component alternatives.

The full suite of capabilities available to paying subscribers would be typically worth an estimated £1000. Through the subscription model, RS is now able to offer these at an entry price level equivalent to a Netflix subscription per month.

Free Trial Period

In addition, as part of the launch, RS is introducing a free trial period to allow all DesignSpark members to try out the ‘Creator’ and ‘Engineer’ subscription options with their more advanced and fully featured versions of the DesignSpark tools, enabling them to assess these additional capabilities before deciding which option will best suit their needs.

The free trial period begins today – 24 January 2023 – and will run until 31 March 2023.

“Today’s launch is the next phase in the lifecycle for our award-winning suite of design tools and design engineering resources”, said Mike Bray, Vice-President of Innovation and DesignSpark at RS. “RS is continually aiming to enhance and personalise the design experience for engineers and through engagement with the DesignSpark community and extensive research into the needs of its members, we have recognised that one size does not fit all. Therefore, we are looking to bring the right level of resources suitable for the DesignSpark community from students and hobbyists to super makers to professional design engineers in companies of all sizes and industries. And, importantly, we are offering a solution that puts DesignSpark members in control of what and when they use a higher level of capability.”

DesignSpark Explorer, Creator and Engineer – and access to the free trial – are available at rs-online.com/designspark/home.

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