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Fusion Forecast: Rumblings from Autodesk University

Christmas has come early…If you didn’t get a chance to attend all the festivities at Autodesk University, this is your chance to catch up on all the awesome stuff that was presented on mainstage in front of 10,000 people. I know I was like a kid in a GIGANTIC candy story during this presentation. The keynote was riddled with tons of new functionality that is already in Fusion 360 or is coming very soon ;). There are many nuggets in this post, so let’s not waste any more time and jump right in:


ECAD (coming in first quarter of 2017)

The first big announcement during the Fusion 360 keynote was the introduction of electronic design workflows. In this example, I was able to start creating the footprint of the board in Fusion 360 and save out the file as a board file. I can barely spell ECAD, so I sent the board file to our team’s electronics designer to layout the board components. Once the board is finished, I can translate the board in the cloud with a common component library from a variety of component vendors, rather than making common parts manually. The result is a PCB design that relates directly to its physical environment and common data which can be associatively exported to my mechanical enclosure where it’s embedded.

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Advanced Simulation (in Fusion 360 today)

If you’ve been keeping up with the What’s New posts, you probably noticed that new simulation capabilities have already made their way into Fusion 360. It seems like overnight, Fusion 360 went from a young gun dabbling in the simulation space, to a “grown-up” simulation tool overnight. In addition to the new study types like buckling, nonlinear, event, and shape optimization, Fusion 360 has also switched over to the Nastran solver. Traditionally, I would have had to invest upwards of $20K to get this level of simulation software, but now Fusion 360 is leveling the playing field by lowering the cost of entry into these tools.

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Sheet metal (coming in first half of 2017)

I’m going to try not to get bent out of shape on this one, but sheet metal is on its way into Fusion 360. Not only will you be able to create base, edge, sketch, and miter flanges from the same command, but you’ll be able to go all the way to producing your sheet metal part from within the same tool – Fusion 360. In this example, I was able to design the sheet metal part in Fusion 360’s unified modeling environment to reference other components while modeling the sheet metal part. With a quick switch over to the Fusion 360 integrated CAM workspace, I was able to program my part for the waterjet. Of course, if any changes occur along the way, the flat pattern & toolpaths will update. But we didn’t stop there…since time+scrap=money, Fusion 360 will be bringing nesting too.

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Branch & Merge (coming in first quarter of 2017)ff_branchingmerging

When I try to explain the product development process to a friend, they assume that once I have a concept it is a smooth road to a finished product. Although all of us who have been involved in making a product, know this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, design teams are typically exploring a series of decisions often made in parallel to one another. Traditionally, we have implemented convoluted mechanisms to manage this type of exploration, which often take more time and energy than the actual design. Branching & Merging inside Fusion 360 will allow design teams to explore different concepts independently without creating duplicate files across the network. We can then merge the best concept back into the main design without “find & replace” workflows.


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Generative (coming in first half of 2017)

Now who doesn’t like that light weight feeling when a plane descends abruptly? But when it comes to lightweighting a part to perform better, it is a tedious manual process with many iterations of trial & error. Enter Generative Design. Start by setting up a few parameters and let Fusion 360 do the brunt of the work by iterating on solutions. Latticing a design will be the first flavor of Generative Design in Fusion 360. In this example, latticing was used on an upright of the BAC Mono supercar. The beam and skin thickness was optimized to drop the weight of the part from 1.8 kg to 0.8 kg. But it gets even better…the solid part was experiencing peak stresses around 209 MPA, where the latticed part was experiencing peak stresses around 107 MPA. Think about that for a second…half the weight, but twice as strong.


ADV Manufacturing (in Fusion 360 today)

This next enhancement is making Machine Shop Billy excited because now in Fusion 360, 4 and 5 axis toolpaths can be programmed to run more complex parts with less setups. This functionality was added in November along with WCS probing to leverage on machine probes to locate work offsets. First, several toolpaths have been updated to include a wrap feature. This will leverage the A-axis of your machine and wrap the toolpath around a cylindrical stock. In addition, 4 axis indexing has also been included for 3+1 operations. Next, tilting has been added to the 3D contour toolpath so that if Fusion 360 detects a collision between the holder and geometry it will start  tilting to actively avoid the collision. Now, Machine Shop Billy can use a smaller, more rigid tool so he isn’t using a toothpick tool to get into deep pockets. Finally, 5-axis swarf and multi axis contour have been added to help improve the surface quality of parts in a shorter amount of time. Time = Money…does it not?


Fusion in a Browser (coming in first half of 2017)

Last but not least, the Browser version of Fusion 360. I won’t be the first to say, I don’t ever think I will fully switch over to full-browser CAD (at least not till there is free gigabit wifi EVERYWHERE). At this time, there are still major benefits of calculating processes locally. I wouldn’t want to wait for a toolpath to upload/download from the cloud servers when it takes 2 secs to calculate locally. However, on more complex toolpaths that is where this can be beneficial =]. Luckily, Fusion 360 is going to give you both options (desktop or browser). In this workflow, the desktop version is used to still program and calculate the toolpaths. Then design changes can be made from the browser anywhere and on any device. With Fusion 360, the entire design team is working on the same data, so the related data (toolpaths, simulations, renderings, etc.) will automatically reflect the changes.



Not only is Fusion 360 bringing these groundbreaking technologies all into one tool, but the core functionality will remain a focus for a majority of our development team. Hell, I can think of at least a few reasons why I would need to use sketch in each one of these new pieces of functionality. For that reason, I encourage all of you to get involved in the Ideastation. While I was at Autodesk University, I learned that 384 enhancements that are in Fusion 360 today have come directly from the Ideastation. So go recommend ideas or vote on ones that other users have thought were a cool idea. You may even notice that the most voted idea is highlighted in this post :].

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