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RS introduces subscription charges for DesignSpark

24 January, 2023

RS Group has introduced two levels of paid subscriptions for its DesignSpark suite of design tools which have previously been free and have helped build a global online community of 1.3 million members. A “DesignSpark Explorer” level will continue to be free, but it will be joined by “Creator” and “Engineer” levels adding extra functions and costing £9.99 and £14.99 respectively per month.

As part of the launch, RS is introducing a free trial period that will allow DesignSpark members to try out the Creator and Engineer subscription options and to assess them before deciding which option suits them best. The free trial period will run until 31 March 2023.

RS reckons that the full suite of capabilities available to paying subscribers is worth around £1,000. It points out that, through its subscription model, it will be offering these capabilities at a similar price to a monthly Netflix subscription.

DesignSpark consists of a suite of design tools that includes DesignSpark Mechanical and DesignSpark PCB, as well as 2D/3D and electronics parts libraries, and design resources including articles, projects and community forums. The new three-tier model will allow members to choose their own level of access.

The still-free DesignSpark Explorer is aimed at users such as students and designers. It will give them the same community access, tools and design resources that they have today, allowing them to move from concepts to prototypes.

These users will continue to have access to the DesignSpark Mechanical modeller that needs no previous experience of 3D CAD software and allows them to create and modify geometries. The software supports rapid prototyping or reverse engineering of physical objects. The free level will also provide access to the DesignSpark PCB rapid-prototyping tool for circuit design, allowing the creation of schematics, transfers to PCB layouts and preparation for production.

DesignSpark Explorer subscribers will also still 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. They will also retain access to engineering support and public forums in the DesignSpark community.

DesignSpark will continue to offer a free level aimed at users such as students

For users looking for more advanced tools and resources, the new DesignSpark Creator subscription option, costing £9.99 a month, will provide an enhanced version of DesignSpark Mechanical, including a 3D mirror tool and detailing tools to annotate parts and create manufacturing drawings, as well as enhanced parts libraries. There will also be videos, tutorials and tips from experts from the DesignSpark community.

The top-level DesignSpark Engineer option, costing £14.99 per month, is aimed at professional design engineers. It expands DesignSpark PCB “significantly” with advanced new features. It also adds more parts intelligence data, including export compliance data and PCN/EOL notifications, plus help with component alternatives.

“Today’s launch is the next phase in the lifecycle for our award-winning suite of design tools and design engineering resources”, says 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.”

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