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DesignSpark Explorer Software Support FAQs

Frequently asked questions

What is DesignSpark Explorer?

DesignSpark Explorer is an essentials package with 3D modelling and PCB design software, complimented by basic engineering design services. It is designed to be a no-frills design platform to build out product concepts and get enriched data on the parts you design in. Using DesignSpark Explorer is free-of-charge to all verified DesignSpark members.

So, get your brilliant ideas from concept to prototype now with our easy-to-use tools!

Here’s what you get in the DesignSpark Explorer pack (as of November 2022 – beta phase):

DesignSpark PCB - unlimited schematic size and PCB layer count, multiple file formats, Create BOMs and get RS pricing, View PCBs in 3D, Generate Manufacturing plots and IDFs for mechanical enclosure design, Design Rule Check and Examine PCB before production.

DesignSpark Mechanical - 2D Sketch and 3D Geometry toolset, Import RSDOCS and IDFs (for PCB), Export 3D models in CAD neutral formats (STL, OBJ, 3D PDF), Measure and Quality tools, Enhanced Shading, and lighting, Create and export BOMs.

Access to online component libraries (2D symbols, 2D footprints, 3D models)

Parts intelligence – Manufacturer part number (MPN) search, RS Stock number search, Datasheets, EU RoHS, China RoHS and REACH compliance status, Product status (active, obsolete, etc.), Part Category and description.

Learning and Support - self-learning content (FAQs, tutorials, guides), support centre (troubleshooting articles) and community forum.

And, coming soon:

  • Cloud-based electronic circuit simulation and schematic design tool.
  • Cloud-based reference designs - supplier products and commonly used electrical circuits.
  • Sustainable Design Solutions.

Note: To existing DesignSpark users (download our software before November 2022), the Explorer software will have the same functionality as your current version but with a few fixes and enhancements. To keep our Mechanical software free-of-charge, we have had to restrict to fewer file formats for import/export and these are detailed in our support FAQs.

Who uses DesignSpark Explorer?

DesignSpark Explorer can be used by anyone looking for free-of-charge software and tools for concept creation and rapid prototyping. If you are a maker, hobbyist or student in higher education, our Explorer tools could be ideal for you. Looking for a new CAD system? Try Explorer for free to see if the basic DesignSpark CAD feature set works for you and consider our paid subscription tiers for more functionality.

Is DesignSpark Explorer free-of-charge?

Yes.

Is commercial use allowed on the DesignSpark Explorer plan and is my design IP protected?

Yes, commercial use is allowed on the DesignSpark Explorer plan. You will have full ownership (including Intellectual Property - IP) of any project you create with our software. Design files from our primary CAD software (DesignSpark Mechanical and PCB) are saved locally on the device you have installed the software to. Therefore, only you can access your own design files.

How many copies of each software can I install with 1 DesignSpark Explorer licence?

With DesignSpark Explorer, you can have 1 copy of each software installed on any computer. Our paid plans allow more copies per software.

What are the system requirements of DesignSpark Explorer software?

These are the supported system specifications for our primary CAD software:

DesignSpark Mechanical

  • Operating system – Windows 11 (64-bit), Windows 10 (64-bit), Windows Server 2016 (64-bit) and Windows Server 2019 (64-bit).
  • *Microsoft has officially ended support for Windows 7, so the software may still work on Windows 7 but you will likely encounter errors which cannot be patched by the developer.
  • Graphics card – Discrete graphics card or Integrated graphics (AMD APU, Intel HD) with the latest drivers and compatible with the supported operating systems. For full functionality, use of a recent NVIDIA or AMD Professional or Workstation Graphics card with at least 1 GB of discrete video memory and supporting, at a minimum, OpenGL version 4.5, DirectX 11, Shader Model 5.0 and with Direct3D acceleration enabled. Display should have a minimum 1024x768 minimum resolution.
  • CPU - Pentium® 4 2.0 Ghz or faster 64-bit (x64) processor.
  • RAM - 4GB or higher
  • Disk Space – at least 3GB
  • Web browser – Google Chrome (v102 or higher), Mozilla Firefox (v101 or higher) and Microsoft Edge (v102 or higher).
  • Input devices – 2 button mouse with wheel
  • Optional inputs - 3D Mouse (eg. 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse), Touchscreen multi-touch support via native pen-and-touch interface.

DesignSpark PCB

  • Operating system – Windows 11 (64-bit) and Windows 10 (32-bit or 64-bit).
  • *Microsoft has officially ended support for Windows 7, so the software may still work on Windows 7 but the developer will not be patching any issues specific to unsupported OS versions.
  • Graphics card – 1024x768 minimum display resolution. For 3D View of PCBs, hardware acceleration for OpenGL may enhance performance.
  • CPU - 1GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) or equivalent.
  • RAM - 4GB or higher
  • Disk Space – at least 1GB
  • Input devices – 2 button mouse with wheel
Can I install each DesignSpark Explorer software on different computers?

Yes, for example you can have DesignSpark Mechanical installed on PC-1 and DesignSpark PCB on PC-2. You will also need to login to the software with your DesignSpark account and activate it for use.

How can I convert my DesignSpark Explorer licence to a Creator or Engineer licence?

Make sure you are logged in to DesignSpark.com and then look for ‘manage subscription’ in your account area. Select your new subscription plan and you will be guided through the remaining steps.

Do I need to renew my DesignSpark Explorer licence?

No, your access to the free Explorer licence will be automatically renewed for as long as you have the linked DesignSpark account.

Is DesignSpark Explorer open source and does it have APIs to extend functionality?

No, all our software and tools are closed source. There are currently no public APIs to develop any user extensions/plug-ins.

Is there a DesignSpark Explorer network licence available for business or educational site use?

No, but this may change in the future. Please look out for announcements via the DesignSpark newsletter and social media.

Where can I get help with using DesignSpark Explorer software?

You can access our software forum for answers or post a new question. The DesignSpark staff and our user community are ready to help you on the forum. Our support centre has troubleshooting articles with tips to help solve known issues. You can also view the tutorials posted on our website for step by step guidance and our built-in software documentation

What languages are the DesignSpark Explorer software available in?

As of November 2022, our software user interface is available in these languages:

DesignSpark Mechanical - English, Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay (Bahasa Melayu), Nederlands (Dutch), Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional)

DesignSpark PCB – English

Do I need to be online to use DesignSpark Mechanical?

Yes, it is a requirement of using the software that the user is a DesignSpark member and that the software knows the subscription level of the user to provide the correct funtailaity for their subscription

Therefore on starting the software and for the periodic license checks it is required that the software be online 

Will I get patches or updates to my DesignSpark Explorer software?

Yes, we will issue these as and when required they are available.

Is DesignSpark Explorer software local desktop or cloud-based software?

Our Mechanical and PCB software are desktop-only with a local installation. There may be some cloud-based tools added to our subscription plans in the future and they would not require any installation (accessed through web browser).

How do I download and use DesignSpark Explorer software and services?

A new download page becomes available as soon as you start your subscription. The individual download links for each software will be on your account page after logging into DesignSpark.com.