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The Fusion Forecast: Desktop Connect

Storing desktop CAD data in the cloud is like storing a toaster in a tub full of water. It’s just not a good idea. This problem arises because most cloud tools out there do not understand parent/child relationships created from referencing parts in assemblies. Usually, this requires Pack & Go workflows, which often times creates duplicate files. Regrettably, I was accustomed to this workflow because it’s one of the easiest ways to share files with people outside your organization. About a month ago, I heard about this new thing the Fusion 360 developers call Desktop Connect. From what I gathered, this new functionality is like a Dropbox folder that syncs to your desktop which connects to A360. So, I had to know more…

 

Two things caught my attention: First, this is a much easier way to upload data to the cloud, especially for those still locked to their desktop CAD tools. Second, desktop connect understands the parent/child relationship. Afterall, A360 was developed to accompany CAD tools like Fusion 360.

 

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I am all about my data living in the cloud. I have a Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box account. Unfortunately, the tools used for file management across all the cloud products (even cloud CAD tools) out there are difficult to use and slow because I have to interact with my data in a web browser. There is nothing better than moving, renaming, and copying a file in Windows Explorer. It just feels soooo good. I will admit that I have done these things in the ol’ days while using desktop CAD tools. YES, and I have blown up an assembly or maybe more. With Desktop Connect, updates to files in Windows Explorer will update A360 automatically preventing that catastrophe of broken references. A360 gives me the ability to rename a file if I am traveling, but if I am at my desktop it’s just easier to move things in Windows Explorer. Now, Desktop Connect gives me the choice of which ever method I prefer.

 

 

Wouldn’t it be cool if I didn’t have to do that annoying extra step of converting? Wouldn’t it be cool if the data remained linked to the original SOLIDWORKS data, so when changes are made in SOLIDWORKS (or any other desktop CAD tool) the changes are propagated into Fusion 360? Well, don’t you worry the Fusion 360 team has that on its radar.

 

The next step would be to reference my legacy SOLIDWORKS data without converting it into Fusion 360 data. In the video, you may have noticed I converted the SOLIDWORKS data into Fusion 360 data. This would eliminate that step. Instead, I could bring in the SOLIDWORKS data right into Fusion 360. When a design change is made in the Desktop CAD tool, a new version would be recorded and the changes will propagate into Fusion 360. How sweet is that?

 

I have visited numerous companies, which seem to “try to catch them all” (yeah, I had to make a Pokemon reference) and own every CAD tool available on the market. With this type of functionality a company can integrate all their CAD data from their different tools across the organization directly into Fusion 360. Any design changes from the various tools would update right into Fusion 360, ensuring  the various designs from numerous teams work together. Talk about unifying an organization.  

 

Now take a moment to think about this little nugget. This type of integration would extend the capabilities of my legacy CAD data. I can leverage Fusion 360’s CAM, Simulation, and Rendering workspaces to enhance different parts of my product development process without having to pay a small fortune for different add-ins. Of course, when a design change occurs my CAM toolpaths, FEA simulation, and renderings would update accordingly.


While thoroughly researching and discussing this topic with many people, I got more excited at all of the benefits this functionality brings to a variety of CAD users. Now are you with me folks? How can we get this functionality to market faster?

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