Whether you’re a one-person shop, a large operation, or a hobbyist working on DIY projects, the process of bringing your furniture designs from napkin sketch to finished product starts with comprehensive 3D modeling software. Integrated CAD/CAM software like Autodesk’s Fusion 360 allows you to design, visualize, and experiment with your parts in a 3D environment before you start the physical woodworking or building process. Nothing’s more fulfilling than having confidence when you go to build your designs. Fusion 360 helps you make a streamlined transition from digital 3D models to physical products through a wide variety of modeling tools — from parametric modeling and built-in electronics design capabilities, all the way to documentation and production.
If you’re looking to expand your design process with a user-friendly CAD program, here are 10 ways Fusion 360 can help with your furniture design process. This list is also for those looking to get the most out of their existing Fusion 360 account.
Fusion 360 is a parametrically driven 3D software, so you’re encouraged and empowered to deploy sweeping changes to dimensions, topology, and constraints to your design ideas via our Parameters tool. Cabinet makers, fine-furniture fabricators, and furnishings suppliers can all deploy this tool to effectively test size and scale, to add or subtract components or features, or to work through design ideation with the simple change of a number. Parametric design works well for a wide variety of parts, ranging from full cabinetry designs to joinery systems.
Integrated Solid Model, Surface, T-spline, and Meshes
These tools give you the power to work in any section that meets your workflow. If you’re a manufacturer or fabricator of casework, the solid model space works wonders. Those who are doing more complex organic shapes or integrating 3D printing technologies in their workflow, t-splines, meshes, and surfaces will allow you to get what you want how you want it.
Rarely do furniture designers have access to the onshoring of job types into their process. Whether you’re manufacturing at scale or doing a custom run of 1-100 products, the integration of CAM into your design tool allows you to open your business to growth. Adding manufacturing into your practice also empowers you to be informed while you communicate and work with your suppliers and confident while you work through the prototyping process.
Built-in Electronics Design
For many furniture companies and fabricators, the need to integrate different industrial sectors into your process gives you the option to expand your offerings. Fusion 360 now allows you to add electronics to any of your projects. Nowhere else can you begin to look past wood or laminate goods as your primary source of production. Conference tables with integrated power distribution, lighting, smart devices — all of these broaden your revenue streams, and now you can do it all with one CAD software.
Every fabricator, designer, and engineer knows that you have to have excellent documentation to get the best design outcome. For any scale of furniture-making, Fusion 360’s drawing space allows you to create templates, automatically update drawings based on design changes, and even add notes from fabricators and BOMs or cutlists. With tools like weld symbols, GD+T smart templates, and more, this space is incredibly powerful.
No one makes in a bubble. Even if you’re a one-person shop, you still have to collaborate with clients. Fusion Team gives you a web-based space to manage your design data, communicate with clients, and even annotate and document processes tied to a particular design. Tools like Wikis’, comments, annotation, and shareouts don’t require your customer or collaborator to use Fusion 360 — all you need is an internet connection, and you’re good to go.
Visualization and Simulation
You often need to show a realistic version of how something is going to look to clients, suppliers, etc, but fabrication is time-consuming and costly. With the rendering, animation, and simulation spaces in Fusion 360, you can easily and affordably visualize your design to inform your process and output before you hit the CNC or shop floor. Validation phases for engineering, design, and production are also now all under one roof, one tool.
As builders, designers, fabricators, and engineers, we’re all focused on continual improvement and in hopes of expanding our capabilities. Part of that process is giving yourself the tools you need to succeed. Fusion 360’s agile cloud platform is constantly evolving to give you the most updated tools you need to continually improve your offerings.
Fusion 360 allows you to integrate several third-party technologies to further customize your workflow, from our app-store to more extensive strategic partnerships. We work to give each of you the option to build your practice how you need it — from Ansys to add-ins, you choose what works for you. Explore our full list of plugins and add-ons here.
Speaking of choice, our newest extension program lets you build a personalized Fusion 360 platform that reflects your needs. The base price of Fusion 360 includes more functionality for design and manufacturing than any other tool of a similar cost. As you grow, Fusion 360 grows with you. For example, once you outgrow the machining capabilities in the base version of Fusion 360, you can add extra functions with the Machining Extension. And if your goal is to streamline your data and business, the Manage Extension is right for you.
Looking for a woodworking software or furniture design software that can help take your designs to the next level without a massive learning curve? Trial a free version Fusion 360 today.
Also, be sure to check out our YouTube channel for tutorials on designing in Fusion 360.