Fusion 360: A Complete Solution for Additive Design

Published on April 29, 2023 by Carlota V.
fusion 360

The American software company Autodesk offers a wide range of CAD solutions for architects, engineers and designers, including its most well-known product, AutoCAD. Even though it is possible to create 3D models with solids, surfaces and mesh objects on AutoCAD, it is much more advanced in terms of its 2D capabilities. Therefore, Autodesk has developed other software dedicated to 3D modeling applications, including Autodesk Inventor and Fusion 360. As its name suggests, Fusion 360 is a cloud-optimized application that positions itself as a complete solution, offering not only CAD (Computer Aided Design), but also CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) and CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) tools. The software facilitates the product development and optimization process, particularly for use in 3D printing. So what are its features?

As mentioned, Fusion 360 is cloud based and integrates CAD, CAM and CAE tools. This allows users to bring together design, engineering and manufacturing into a single platform. Essentially, you will not have to leave your design environment when modeling on Fusion 360. Moreover, Fusion 360 enables mechanical and technical 3D models to be created. However, many users criticize the fact that the program lacks sculpting tools for organic modelling. CAD solutions such as Blender or Rhino offer more extensive functionalities for designs in this respect.

fusion 360

Fusion 360’s interface

The Features of Fusion 360

As you know, there is a specific format needed to be able to send a 3D model to a 3D printer, and Fusion 360 is perfectly suited for this. You can save your 3D model in a variety of formats, including STL and OBJ. In terms of 3D modeling, Fusion 360 offers sketching, parametric modeling, direct modeling, freeform modeling, surface modeling, sheet metal, mesh modeling, assemblies and PCB design integrations. Therefore, it covers all the needs industrial designers may have when developing a product, combining aesthetics and function.

One of the benefits of the 3D modeling software is that it is cloud-based, which means that the development process is unified between different designers and engineers. Fusion 360 is also a platform for collaboration between different parties. It is possible to connect different teams and external stakeholders on the same project, communicate in real time and centralize project activity.

Given that 3D printing enables a great amount of design freedom, it’s also important to have tools that can leverage this feature in the software. Fusion 360 therefore offers generative design tools to explore multiple manufacturing outcomes that meet the defined design specifications. For example, it can propose designs to reduce weight, improve performance and consolidate parts. On top of this, it would not be a full solution if it did not include simulation tools. Simulation shows designers and engineers whether their models will pass in real-world applications and can reduce the cost of prototyping. This is a key aspect of the development of any prototype, for which companies often use 3D printing

Fusion 360 is relatively new on the market and there are different opinions in terms of user-friendliness. Some functions are very advanced, others not so much (e.g. organic modeling). For beginners, the basic functions are relatively easy to learn and for the design of mechanical components it offers the necessary functions to simplify the development process. Autodesk and the users also operate an online platform where help, documentation and tutorials are offered.

Costs and Licensing

A 30-day trial version of the Autodesk Fusion 360 program is available. After this period, the license for each user costs $545 per year or $70 per month. Further information on the functions or licensing can be found on the Autodesk website HERE.

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One comment

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

  1. Catcloud says:

    Personally I use Inventor 2017, also there product and it has a built in 3D printer feature, I only use that to save my objects as an stl but its there at least.

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