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3D Printing & Software at the MIT Enterprise Forum Garage Manufacturing Event

Two weeks ago, I had the great privilege of presenting Fusion 360 to a group of entrepreneurs at the MIT Enterprise Forum of South Florida, as well as speaking on a panel about garage manufacturing and how it is growing with help from tools like CAD and CAM.  During this time, I got to learn a lot about inventors and how Fusion 360 can change the design industry.  Here are my top 3 takeaways:

 

3D Printing is HUGE, and Makers are Looking for a Simple Workflow

OK, so maybe this one is naivety on my part.  I know that 3D printing is a big trend right now, but it never dawned on me just how impactful it is on the maker community.  It is HUGE, or bigger than huge!  Every person at the event was checking out the running 3D printer, guessing what it was going to make, looking at sample prints and learning about the benefits of additive manufacturing (thanks in large part to AJ Perez of New Valence Robotics).

 

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Hearing about peoples plans for 3D printing, the time and money they have invested in it already, and some of the difficulties that they encounter really makes me look forward to the highly anticipated release of the open source Spark platform.   I can’t wait to go back and show everyone how easy we can make complex 3D printing.

 

Early Education Students Love What Fusion 360 Brings to the Table

Middle school and high school doesn’t just mean Math and English anymore.  More and more students are learning about CAD and design in classes and extracurricular activities.  Even more impressive, our future designers are going off on their own and learning to create with tools like Sketchup.  After talking with a few students just like this, I heard that they are finding limitations to their design tools and pointed out a number of areas where Fusion 360 would be able to take their designs to the next level.  What a great things to see, students looking to take advantage of the free student license to avoid current design issues…at 13.  Needless to say, they are much more ambitious than I was at that age.

 

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Makers Know about Traditional CAD and Are Ready for a New Tool

Most, if not all of the attendees at Enterprise Forum were using CAD software for something in their design process.  Were they looking to change their current software?  Probably not.  Did they have issues in their current workflow?  Absolutely.  In some of these cases, Fusion 360 looks like a possible solution.  Many of the issues they are looking to avoid are a steep learning curve and a challenging interface for a part-time user.  The easy to follow in-product tutorials and learning available for Fusion 360 helped with this.  Another common complaint I heard was surfacing or more natural looking shapes.  Showing off the Sculpting environment raised a few eyebrows and opened the door to talk about software trials.  The last problem for this group was collaboration and data aggregation.  Since makers are not always designing in the same room, easily sharing designs with A360 and working with data from nearly any CAD package is another huge benefit.  Is Fusion 360 to answer to everyone’s problems?  Not yet, but it certainly can help avoid some of the issues traditional CAD users run in to.

 

I’d like to extend my thanks to Perry Kaye (@PerryInvents ) for inviting me to participate in this event.  Spending time with those who use Fusion 360 and others that can express what they want in their software is what helps us drive the direction of the product.  I can’t wait to head to my next event, and encourage all of you to attend whenever you see something of interest on the Fusion 360 events page.

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