Understanding Machine Simulation Basics in Autodesk Fusion 360

Emily Suzuki December 2, 2021 3 min read

Machine simulation features in Autodesk Fusion 360 are officially out of preview! This article will delve into how you can use machine simulation tools to your advantage.

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Programming a part in any computer-aided manufacturing software (CAM) can often be a disconnected process between what the toolpath looks like on screen to what really happens when running it on a live machine tool. This difference often means that considerations like machine limits, controller options, and special functions, are less likely to be factored in when creating toolpaths in CAM software. This often results in programmers and operators adjusting programs on the fly and can cost valuable time and money.

Machine simulation aims to address this disconnect by allowing a user to gain a more accurate representation of how the programmed part is likely to perform when running it on a live machine. In our recent release, we brought these features out of preview and announced a full release. In this article, we’ll show you how to use machine simulation basics in Fusion 360.

What is Machine Simulation?

Machine simulation is the ability to simulate toolpaths on a digital twin of your machine. Using This feature in Fusion 360 is a simple, easy, and accurate way to check that your toolpaths are accurate and safe to run on a machine tool. Machine simulation optimizes processes to improve quality and flexibility, evaluate machining parameters, and make manufacturing decisions. It is often a crucial tool when it comes to simulating toolpaths accurately before executing them on a machine tool.

Machine Simulation in Fusion 360

Start with specifying a machine by either creating a new setup or editing an existing one. Right-clicking on the setup and clicking Edit will expose the setup dialogue. From the Machine Section within that setup tab, you can then choose the Select button, which will open the Machine Library dialogue. This dialogue contains a list of machines that have been utilized in various documents and locations throughout Fusion 360, as well as a list of pre-configured machines within an online Fusion 360 Library. Clicking the drop-down link exposes the list of simulation-ready files.

Selecting a Machine

Click the Machine Simulation Filter to display all the simulation-ready machines available. You can also view the full list by choosing the top-level Fusion 360 Library. Simulation-ready machines have fully defined solid model kinematics alongside a linked machine simulation-ready post processor.

It’s worth noting that the Fusion 360 Machine Library contains pre-configured machines and may not match the exact kinematics of the machine you have. If you require a more accurate simulation, you will need to modify an existing machine or create a new machine using our new Machine Builder feature to get a more accurate representation. Remember that even though the post processor uses the kinematics you define, it’s always important to make sure your NC output code is correct before running it on any machine.

Clicking on the machine file and clicking the Select button will begin downloading the machine, allowing you to save the machine file to a location of your choice.

Time To Simulate

Once downloaded, the machine is automatically selected, and the Part Position Tab becomes available. Clicking the Part Position Tab defines the location of the part attachment alongside where that part attachment connects to the table. You can apply further offsets to fine-tune your required location.

Now that we have imported the machine and positioned the part, it’s time to simulate. Machine Simulation is available when simulating from both the setup level and an individual toolpath. Right-click on your setup to see the simulation motions on the machine. If any collisions are predicted, they are shown as red markings in your timeline. You can use the Change Tool functionality to quickly update your tool to avoid collisions without needing to recalculate the toolpath.

Finally, you can simulate your toolpath to make sure you’re happy with it ahead of machining.

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