News | October 23, 2018

DarkAero Chooses Onshape For Experimental Aircraft Design

Aviation startup cites cloud CAD’s multi-part 3D modeling and “trouble-free” data management for streamlining design process.

Cambridge, MA (PRWEB) - DarkAero, a Wisconsin startup specializing in aerospace composite products and high-performance experimental kit aircraft, has chosen Onshape as its primary CAD system. The company is currently developing the DarkAero 1, a two-seat carbon-fiber aircraft designed to be faster, lighter and more fuel-efficient than current kit aircraft available today.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration certifies kit aircraft for safety and airworthiness, classifying them in their experimental category. Pilots building experimental aircraft devote 1,000 to 2,000 man hours assembling these kits.

“The most popular kit airplanes on the market are around 200 miles per hour maximum cruise speed and have a 1,000 mile range tops,” says DarkAero CEO Ryley Karl. “For the DarkAero 1, we’re targeting a maximum cruise speed of 275 miles per hour and a range of over 1,500 miles depending on your payload and cruise speed. Onshape is helping us design for a higher level of performance.”

“As an aerospace engineer, I’ve worked with NX, Pro/E, and SOLIDWORKS in my career. I quickly realized the advantage Onshape provides for modeling aircraft. For top-down design, the Multi-Part Part Studio felt much easier and more efficient to me,” he adds. “It makes sense to simultaneously work on the plane’s shell, ribs and structure.”

In Onshape’s Multi-Part Part Studio, all parts related to one another are designed together in one place, instead of the traditional file-based CAD approach of bouncing back and forth between individual part files. By defining common features and inter-part relationships in one place, engineers can ensure that the results of their design changes are predictable and robust.

“DarkAero is not only striving to build faster and more fuel-efficient planes, they’re also aiming to deliver sleek aesthetics – like a sports car in the sky,” says Onshape co-founder John McEleney. “We’re proud that Onshape is playing a role in helping DarkAero push the limits of recreational aviation.”

Karl adds that Onshape’s real-time data management – which enables every member of a team to instantly see each other’s design changes made from anywhere – was another key reason DarkAero decided to choose the cloud CAD system.

“When I was using SOLIDWORKS, it was especially frustrating to manage part files. Even when you know what you’re doing, there always seems to be issues when you update or change something,” he recalls. “Your parts would fail if you didn’t rename them correctly. Onshape has a much more streamlined and trouble-free approach. Using Onshape has just been a no-brainer for us.”

The first DarkAero 1 prototype is slated to debut at the 2019 Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture Show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin next July.

About DarkAero
Based in Madison, Wisconsin, DarkAero is an aviation company that designs and manufactures aerospace composite products and high-performance kit aircraft. The DarkAero 1, slated to debut at the 2019 EAA AirVenture Show, incorporates an advanced piston engine, the 200-horsepower, electronically controlled UL Power UL520iS, which is significantly lighter and smaller than traditional aircraft engines of the same horsepower. The airframe is built from the lightest and strongest composite materials.

The DarkAero 1 uses a unique structural approach called the “Hollow Grid,” an arrangement of CNC-cut, carbon fiber and honeycomb sandwich panel ribs and shear webs. All the compression, tension and torsional loading is carried through the outer skins, while the Hollow Grid helps the skin maintain its shape and prevent buckling.

DarkAero was founded by three brothers, Keegan, River and Ryley Karl, who specialize in mechanical, computer/electrical and aerospace engineering respectively. To learn more about the DarkAero 1, visit or contact

About Onshape
Onshape is a modern CAD system that eliminates design gridlock: the constant waiting, distractions, and hassles that prevent engineers from doing their best work. Onshape unites advanced 3D modeling tools and design data management in a secure cloud workspace that is accessible on any device and never loses data. With no files to lose or corrupt, no license keys to manage, and no installed desktop software, Onshape helps engineering teams get out of the IT business so they can get back in the innovation business.

Professional engineers at thousands of companies rely on Onshape to modernize and streamline their product design and manufacturing process. Onshape users in 170+ countries have logged over 5 million hours modeling advanced robotics, biomedical devices, industrial machinery, agriculture equipment, and consumer products. With 1 of 8 sessions occurring on mobile devices, Onshape is the world’s first anywhere, anytime CAD system.

Founded in 2012, Onshape has raised $169 million from Andreessen Horowitz, NEA, North Bridge, and other leading investors. Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Onshape leadership team includes the original creators of SOLIDWORKS® and other proven leaders in cloud infrastructure, data security, and mobile. For more information, contact or visit

Source: PRWeb

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