All About the Fusion 360 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Integration

Emily Suzuki December 10, 2021 4 min read

Fusion 360 now features the latest SpaceMouse SDK V.4.0 on Windows. To learn more, we had a conversation with 3Dconnexion‘s Jason Rodriguez.

3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Compact. Image courtesy of 3Dconnexion.

After spending some time as a Preview feature, we’re excited to announce that Fusion 360 now features the latest SpaceMouse SDK V.4.0 on Windows, supporting features such as Lock Horizon. We took your feedback, worked with our partners at 3Dconnexion, improved the preview, and made this production experience better and more seamless than ever.* This is excellent news for anyone who currently uses a SpaceMouse or who has been interested in trying one — this is your sign to give it a go! And if you aren’t familiar with what a SpaceMouse is, read on to learn about how they improve your CAD workflow.

We spoke with 3Dconnexion’s Jason Rodriguez, who worked closely on this project to learn more about this exciting integration.

What is a SpaceMouse, how does it work, and why should designers and engineers use one?

The SpaceMouse is a six degrees of freedom (6DoF) input device that allows designers and engineers to improve their efficiency and speed by creating a natural connection between designers/engineers and 3D content. This connection is achieved, in part, by enabling users to simultaneously pan, zoom and rotate their 3D View as if they were holding the object in their hand. This flow frees up their other hand to work on design features. Essentially, it makes users faster, helps them work more comfortably, and lets them enjoy 3D Navigation.

What are some of your favorite features of the SpaceMouse?

I primarily enjoy that it provides an intuitive, fluid, fun-to-use navigation experience. The SpaceMouse gives me a deeper design understanding because I can avoid the unnecessary navigation usually required using traditional input devices. 

Using the keyboard modifiers on my SpaceMouse during navigation while clicking with the mouse feels great and gives me a sense of control and feedback I cannot imagine working without. And of course, I like the function keys, which let me quickly execute my go-to commands in a breeze. That goes a long way toward simplifying and speeding up my workflow.

Can you give a real-life example of a time when a SpaceMouse could really come in handy for a designer or engineer’s workflow?

One example would be when performing a section analysis. Fusion 360 users can quickly switch to a standard view and then lock the rotation axis. This is done with just a quick tap via a dedicated button on the SpaceMouse Enterprise to the right of the navigation cap. 

3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Wireless. Image courtesy of 3Dconnexion.

This action allows panning along the section accurately and effortlessly without worrying that the model will move out of alignment when executing commands. This is the type of activity users encounter often and sometimes even avoid because it can be tedious to do manually. 

The rotation lock can be toggled to explore other perspectives whenever needed. This flow supports a new level of design understanding not found with other input devices.

What makes the Fusion 360 SpaceMouse integration cool? Why should designers and engineers care?

Well, for one, the Fusion 360 engineering team did a fantastic job implementing a complete integration. This new implementation is not just an overhaul over the previous version. Instead, it has changed the navigation paradigm in exciting new ways. Our devices provide outstanding 3D performance, evident from the start in Fusion 360. The result is a greatly enhanced navigation experience for our mutual users. 

There are quite a few cool navigation-based features to discover with our devices in Fusion 360. However, two features I will mention here are navigation mode switching and dynamic environment switching: 

You can now toggle between navigation modes in Fusion 360, switching between what we call “object” mode (behaves as if the object is in your hand) and “camera” mode (behaves as if you are looking through a camera). This feature empowers users with extensive dynamic perspectives and understanding of their model.

Another cool feature both designers and engineers will find remarkable is the SpaceMouse environment sensitivity. This pairing is perfect for a robust, command and environment-rich application, such as Fusion 360. Fusion 360 now supports all commands being mapped directly to 3Dconnexion buttons with complete customizability. 

These command sets change dynamically depending on a user’s current task. For example, when you switch between the Solid and Sheet Metal tab, the commands mapped to the buttons on the SpaceMouse and our new Scout keyboard will automatically update. This gives you instant access to the most frequently used commands.

*Please note that macOS is still on v3 of the SDK.

If you’re ready to try out a SpaceMouse, visit the 3Dconnexion website to learn more. Ready to experience an integrated CAD/CAM tool with your SpaceMouse? Try Fusion 360 today.

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