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  • Operating System: macOS, Windows
  • CPU Type: x86-based 64-bit processor, 4 cores, 1.7 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB of RAM
  • Graphic Cards: DirectX11 (Direct3D 10.1 or greater)
  • Disk Space: 3 GB of storage
  • Display Resolution: 1366 x 768
  • Pointing Device: HID-compliant mouse or trackpad
  • Internet: 2.5 Mbps download; 500 Kbps upload
  • Dependencies: SSL 3.0, TLS 1.2+, .NET Framework 4.5

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Autodesk Fusion 360 Review

This Autodesk Fusion 360 review is your one-stop-shop for learning all about this software. Keep reading to see if Fusion 360 is the right 3D modelling tool for your needs.

Autodesk Fusion 360 Review

minimum price:

Free

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  • Operating System: macOS, Windows
  • CPU Type: x86-based 64-bit processor, 4 cores, 1.7 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB of RAM
  • Graphic Cards: DirectX11 (Direct3D 10.1 or greater)
  • Disk Space: 3 GB of storage
  • Display Resolution: 1366 x 768
  • Pointing Device: HID-compliant mouse or trackpad
  • Internet: 2.5 Mbps download; 500 Kbps upload
  • Dependencies: SSL 3.0, TLS 1.2+, .NET Framework 4.5

Best For

Technical design jobs

STRENGTHS

  • User-friendly interface
  • Free for non-commercial use
  • Excellent customer service
  • Parametric design
  • Cloud software

WEAKNESSES

  • Steep learning curve
  • Occasional crashes

Does your job involve creating, designing, and presenting 3D models of different devices? Are you an engineer, product designer, educator, or machinist? If you fit the bill, you should check out the Autodesk Fusion 360. 

Autodesk is one of the leading names in software design. Its product, Fusion 360, is an integrated tool that helps design almost any kind of 3D model. This software has been around for almost ten years and is regularly updated to remain cutting-edge.

In this Autodesk Fusion 360 review, you’ll find everything you need to know about this software. I’ll also be comparing it with other similar apps to help you make an informed purchase decision.

About Autodesk Fusion 360

Autodesk was founded in 1982 and is one of the most famous software names in the world. The company designs and launches software meant to find application in engineering, construction, architecture, manufacturing, and related fields. It is headquartered in California and has a global presence. 

So what is Fusion 360? 

Fusion 360 was launched in 2013 and is one of Autodesk’s flagship products. This advanced software allows users to create detailed 3D plans for prototypes and test their designs. Thanks to this testing feature, Fusion 360 quickens the prototype phase of the manufacturing process.

Fusion 360 has an incredible array of features that make it a one-stop solution for anything mechanical design-related. It integrates CAD, CAM, PCB, and CAE tools in a single cloud-based software. Overall, the aim of the Fusion 360 is to make designing mechanical devices as error-free, cost-effective, and quick as possible. 

Features 

I’ve covered some of the main features of the Fusion 360 in the next few sections.

Design

Designing is the main function of the Fusion 360. This software allows you to design your prototypes in several different ways. For example, you can use the Sketch tool to make your sketches. These sketches can be made with constraints and in three dimensions. You can also edit, change, or export them. 

Furthermore, you can make designs using direct modelling, surface modelling, parametric modelling, and other related features. 

Note that Fusion 360 integrates with Autodesk EAGLE, allowing you to synchronize your electronics designs with this design automation application. 

Animation & Simulation

You can animate your designs through Fusion 360 as well, depicting the entire design creation process. This type of 3D animation can be done within a few hours. 

You can also use the Simulation feature to simulate your designs. It will allow you to check if the design will hold up in real-world conditions. Simulation can help you reduce time spent on testing and re-designing, saving you money. 

The Simulation feature can operate entirely through the cloud, so you don’t have to spend on expensive hardware. In addition, you can test your prototype for up to eight different failure criteria, including specific events.

Applications

Overall, Fusion 360 is meant for everyone who needs to design a prototype. The software can be used by machinists, mechanical engineers, electronics engineers, and industrial engineers. Furthermore, it can be used to collaborate with various stakeholders. 

For example, if you’re a machinist, you can use integrated CAD and CAM tools to make your toolpaths within a matter of minutes. This software also supports a number of filetypes (more than 50), so you can easily import designs from other apps and then edit and test them.  

Rendering

Rendering is one of the stronger points of Fusion 360. You can also render using different colours and materials and create photo-realistic images of your design in a matter of minutes. All of this takes place on the cloud, which means you won’t need hefty computer hardware. 

The rendering feature even allows you to add decals to your design to provide a more realistic and finished feel. 

User Interface

The user interface of this software could use some more work, but it’s still good enough. It consists of a data panel, learning panel, workspace, and a marking menu. The interface is constantly changing and evolving, so you’ll need to spend some time re-learning the software.  

If you are a designer, for example, there are three primary workspaces you need to know about — sketching, meshing, and forming. The different kinds of workspaces make it easier to find the features and tools you need within the software. 

You can also purchase several extensions if needed.

System Requirements

Fusion 360 system requirements are quite low. You can use the software on your Windows or Mac computer. It supports Monteray, Big Sur, Catalina, and Mojave macOS versions. 

When it comes to Windows, you can use either Windows 8.1, Windows 10, or Windows 11. Note that Windows 8 support is available only until January 2023. 

This software does not work on 32-bit but requires 64-bit systems. You will need a processor that is at least 1.7 GHz strong and has four cores or more. ARM-based processors are only partially supported. 

Tools   

The Fusion 360 is nothing if not rife with different tools for different purposes. The main Fusion tools centre around CAD, CAM, PCB, and simulation. 

 

  • CAD — CAD stands for computer-aided design and forms the main thrust of this software. There are numerous tools and features within the software you can use to create ready-to-build prototypes. These tools allow you to design and model in both 2D and 3D.  
  • CAM — CAM stands for computer-aided manufacturing. Using CAM tools in conjunction with CAD tools will save you time and money. The CAM functionality is one of the main Fusion 360 advantages over other CAD software.  
  • PCB — Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are among the most complex types of electronics to manufacture. With Fusion 360, you get dedicated tools for PCB design. What’s more, you get a full-featured schematic capture that eliminates the need to design PCBs manually.
  • Simulation — The simulation tool allows you to detect major flaws early in the design process. It is quite advanced and can be used to detect different types of failures.

User Interface  

The user interface has been kept as clean as possible without compromising functionality. It features four main components:

  1. Data panel
  2. Workspaces
  3. Learning panel
  4. Marking menu

 

Thanks to the buttons being appropriately marked, it’s easy to figure out what is what. Just hover your mouse over the button to see the name of the feature.

The user interface keeps updating regularly (the last update was on January 2022), but the main organisation has remained the same for a long time. Getting the hang of the user interface, and making a design can be a matter of a single day.

Most people who have used this software have good things to say about the UI. However, note that it is meant for engineers and manufacturers, so a layperson may need to spend some more time figuring out how it works. 

The Autodesk website includes a great walkthrough of the user interface of Fusion 360. You can also watch numerous videos the company has uploaded to YouTube on the subject. 

Plans and Pricing 

Fusion 360 is a software-as-a-service product. This means that you cannot buy the software outright. Instead, you need to pay a subscription to use it. The primary advantage of buying a subscription is that it allows you to access the cloud and offers various other privileges. 

Fusion 360 has specific pricing for different countries. In this review, I’ve covered the prices for residents of the UK. So, here are the Fusion 360 prices which depend on the length of time you want to subscribe for: 

 

Length of subscription  Price 
Month £54 per month 
Year £438
Three-year  £1248
Customised  Contact Autodesk for details. 

Overall, the pricing of the Fusion 360 is quite competitive when compared to other CAD/CAM software tools. If you want to test the software before buying it, a thirty-day free trial is available. However, you do have to provide your billing details to access it. 

Furthermore, you have the option of purchasing various extras and extensions at an additional cost. 

Autodesk provides a thirty-day money-back guarantee in case you’re not satisfied with the software. 

Note: Fusion 360 is free for students and educators as well as all non-commercial users for three years. 

Customer Service 

The level of support is not the same for existing subscribers and people who haven’t made a purchase with Autodesk yet. If you haven’t made a purchase, you can still get in touch with the support team through Autodesk’s official website. But first, you’ll need to answer a few questions to get directed to the correct customer support representative. 

In case you’re already a subscriber and have an issue, your first step should be to refer to Autodesk’s extensive FAQ section. It answers almost any basic question you may have about the Fusion 360 and other services, offering detailed walkthroughs and video tutorials. 

If your issue still isn’t resolved, you can contact a customer support representative by phone or online. Autodesk also offers a helpful remote desktop assistance feature. It allows the representative to gain access to your desktop and quickly see what the problem is to resolve the issue as fast as possible. 

Most people who use Fusion 360 have good things to say about customer support. The company takes its customers seriously, which means you can get your issue resolved within minutes. 

Competitors 

In this section, I will compare Fusion 360 with its closest competitors. 

Autodesk Fusion 360 vs SketchUp 

Right out of the bat, I have to say that Fusion 360 has more features than SketchUp. While SketchUp focuses primarily on 3D Modeling, the Fusion 360 offers integrated functionality which includes CAM, 3D Printing, Simulation, and Rendering as its core features. 

One of Fusion 360’s limitations is its steep learning curve. SketchUp is much easier to learn, especially for users who have no experience with CAD tools. It also comes at a much lower price. 

Hence, the choice between SketchUp and Fusion 360 boils down to what you want to do with the software. If you’re a hobbyist who is just looking to make a few models, SketchUp might be the right choice. However, if you need a vast selection of design features, Fusion 360 is the only choice for you. 

Autodesk Fusion 360 vs AutoCAD 

Both of these are Autodesk products, as their names indicate. The Fusion 360 and AutoCAD are both CAD tools, but they operate on different principles. 

While Fusion 360 has been built from the ground up as a 3D modelling and design software, AutoCAD largely remains a 2D designing app. It is a precursor to Fusion 360, and it shows (even though AutoCAD is regularly updated). 

If you need to make 3D designs, the choice is obvious. However, you should know that Fusion 360 also offers extensive 2D design features. If you’re looking for an interior design or architecture tool, AutoCAD might be a better fit for you.  

Autodesk Fusion 360 vs SolidWorks 

SolidWorks is the original software that was used for engineering and manufacturing before Fusion 360 was launched. Both programs were built keeping 3D design in mind. 

SolidWorks offers a wide range of features for experienced users. However, Fusion 360 is a more integrated tool and offers cloud-based functionality. Overall, Fusion software is a more modern version of SolidWorks, offering collaboration and remote work tools. So if you’re looking for a cloud-based 3D CAD, Fusion 360 will be the right choice for you. 

Autodesk Fusion 360 vs Inventor 

Inventor and Fusion 360 are the two top names among CAD tools. Inventor is an older program first released in 1999 (and has been constantly updated since then), while Fusion 360 is relatively newer with a 2003 launch date. 

While the Inventor software was dubbed a direct competitor to SolidWorks, Fusion 360 came in and changed the entire game. Fusion 360 has a lot more functionality thanks to its CAM tools, Simulation, and 3D printing capabilities. It is also a more collaborative tool designed for today’s remote work environment. 

However, you can consider using Inventor if you need software with the ability to support more complex designs. While Fusion 360 is more versatile, Inventor goes deeper into CAD. 

Customer Reviews 

Fusion 360 is top-drawer software that has a lot of fans. Its most loved and talked about features are the cloud component and collaboration tools. No other CAD software on the market makes it easier to collaborate than Fusion 360. Therefore, the ease of collaboration is certainly one of the main Fusion 360 advantages

Fusion 360 users love the integrated nature of the software. It enables printing 3D models directly as well as importing designs from a variety of different file types. Customer reviews have been largely positive, bordering between “good” and “excellent”. 

There are some complaints concerning the software, though. Fusion 360 has a more crowded and clunkier user interface when compared to other CAD tools. This is understandable due to numerous features, but for a person who just needs to design a 3D model, it can feel excessive and difficult to navigate. The other common complaint is that the software has a few bugs which need to be ironed out. 

Wrap Up 

The Autodesk Fusion 360 is designed to be an all-in-one tool. This means that while this software is godsent for some users, it is needlessly complicated for others. Fusion 360 is not meant for all types of CAD users but rather a specific class of users who need a diverse array of features that the software offers.

I hope you found this Autodesk Fusion 360 review helpful and that I covered all the questions you might’ve had about this software.

FAQ

Is Autodesk Fusion 360 free?
Fusion 360 is free only for hobbyists and educators through Autodesk Fusion 360 for students. This free version includes basic functionality and can be renewed on a 3-year basis.
Is Fusion 360 good for 3D printing?

Yes, Fusion 360 has in-built features which make it easy to use with a 3D printer.  

Is Fusion 360 worth the money?

That depends on what you need it for. If you need various features this software offers, it is worth the money. However, if you need a simple CAD tool, there are other more cost-effective options in the market. 

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