Fusion 360 is one of the most popular CAD tools available for hobbyists due to its capabilities. Explore this guide explaining what Fusion 360 is in this guide.
Fusion 360 is a CAD tool by industry giant Autodesk, a company that needs no introduction. From the creators of industry-standard tools like AutoCAD and Inventor comes a new class of modeling software aimed at hobbyists: Fusion 360.
This is a tool that’s become massively popular in the hobbyist 3D printing community, so you’ve probably heard of it at least in passing. But what exactly is Fusion 360? With this article, we seek to answer that question. After briefly touching on application areas and pricing, we’ll launch into what Fusion 360 is capable of, covering all of its primary workspaces.
Fusion 360 is an excellent tool for the precise modeling of 2D and 3D objects, but you can do much more with it, such as animate your designs, render objects, simulate loads, and even prepare models for CNC machining. Many small and large businesses use the platform for designing and prototyping their products, as Fusion 360 offers CAD, CAM, and CAE possibilities.
Once you get used to the interface and commands (which takes some time), your work process will be limited only by your imagination.
If you’re new to CAD software, Fusion 360 might be the best place to start your modeling adventure. As a hobbyist, student, or even an entrepreneur, you could qualify for a free license. You can use Fusion 360 for free if you’re
If you don’t fit any of the cases above, you can still acquire it with an annual subscription of $495/year (or $60/month).
In Fusion 360, there are several working environments, each providing the user with distinctive features and options. When you open Fusion 360, the first thing you see is a blank modeling plane and a design toolbar, since the Design environment is used by default. (You can switch environments in the top left corner of the screen.)
3D geometry in this tool is created using sketches, and you can make one using the “Create Sketch” button in the top left. You must first choose a plane for the sketch, then draw the 2D sketch using lines, splines, curves, and other simple 2D elements.
If you want to strengthen your skills, check out some exercises you can try.
If you want your object to be produced on a CNC machine, Fusion 360 has an excellent feature for it. Computer-aided machining (CAM) is a feature supported natively in Fusion 360.
If you want to make cuts, you can choose tools provided by the software or add your own with attributes of a tool you already own. After you generate the toolpath, you can simulate and watch how will your model be created and, in turn, avoid any problems that might occur during actual machining.
When you create your object, you’ll probably want to see how your object will look in real life. The Render environment provides tools that make your model seem more realistic.
You can give specific material attributes to your model. For example, you can set your solid bodies to be “made of” marble, wood, various metals, glass, and more. The rendering can be improved with various plug-ins (like KeyShot) for an even more photo-realistic result.
Learn more about achieving realistic renders with Autodesk’s resources.
This one should be self-explanatory: Fusion 360 supports key frame animation, so you can make all kinds of animations for your assemblies, like engines, gearboxes, and more.
Using the Transform tool, you can move your components in order to animate them in a timeline. Just keep in mind that the organization of your bodies matters here, and complex animations should probably be done in another tool specifically for animation. In general, Fusion 360’s animation feature is best-suited for simple visualization.
When you know your prototype’s weight isn’t distributed equally and you worry that loads can have a negative impact on the final product, that’s when you should create a simulation and check for critical spots. Here, you can make a study of different load types or stresses and understand how your product performs in real life. Multiple variables can be manipulated, including static stress, modal frequencies, temperatures, thermal stress, structural buckling, and nonlinear static stress.
If your prototype should withstand a lot of pressure, this is definitely a useful environment, and it’s usually used by experienced engineers. Learn more using Autodesk’s resources.
Fusion 360 is a cloud modeling tool, so when you save your models, they’re actually being stored in a server and not on your computer. If you want them on your hard drive, you’ll need to export them after saving. This is also a way to get your models converted to STL or OBJ files.
Another useful feature of Fusion 360 as an online platform is that you can view your models on any device connected to the web. There are mobile apps available for iOS and Android that enable users to review models remotely, which in return eases team collaboration.
Naturally, Fusion 360 is just one of many 3D modeling programs out there. If you want a better grasp on how it performs relative to some of the other big players, check out our comparison articles:
Practice makes perfect, so if you haven’t already, download Fusion 360, give it a try and design something while your ideas are hot!
(Lead image source: Autodesk)
License: The text of "What Is Fusion 360? – Simply Explained" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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