With the October 2020 Fusion 360 update comes the Template Library — a brand new way to store, manage, and re-use toolpath templates in Manufacturing.
Let’s jump into what this new library means and what quality of life enhancements it will bring to your daily workflow. But first…
What are Templates?
Templates are the best way for you to automate your programming. In an ideal world, the workflow would look like this:
If you are unaware of Templates’ functionality, they are a way to store custom settings for individual toolpaths or a stream of toolpaths to be redeployed on future parts. This is a powerful way for users to set and store a series of default toolpath settings for various material types, machine types, and tool types. While the settings for each strategy parameter are captured and stored, two things in templates are not: Selections and Tools.
These two options help templates achieve a level of flexibility in which they can be used. Selections not being a part of the template allows them to be used on multiple part files instead of restricted for only one selection of geometry or a rigid chain. Tools are also agnostic in the template so that templates can be deployed and used across multiple tool libraries.
However, when a template is deployed, you will notice that a tool has been automatically assigned to the toolpath, and it matches closely to the very tool you intended it for. This is a very interesting concept. To do this, when storing a template, the template will grab all the properties from the tool (tool diameter, flute length, holder, stick out, etc.) inside the template file. When you then deploy the template, there is an active search to match those properties, and if your document tool library contains a tool that matches all those properties it will use that tool. When you do not have a tool inside your document tool library that matches all those properties, things start to get interesting, as Fusion 360’s logic will sometimes create a new tool for you or grab a tool it considers similar.
After saving your templates with default settings for quality part making, we can then deploy them again on another part. In most use cases, users define a flow of toolpaths for machining a complete part and storing the step-by-step process as a template for future parts with similar qualities. This is the ultimate step towards automating your workflow of machining parts. After you establish a proven process, you can then redeploy those strategies on any future parts automatically. Larger companies with multiple programmers are able to share proven strategies and best practices with others in the company.
Set up standard defaults and get a user from 0-80% done a part in under 5 clicks.
With such a powerful tool, we wanted to bring more awareness to its use, have a clean way to manage a large library of templates, and easily share them across an organization.
In comes Template Library!
The release of the new Template Library is our first step into automated workflows. With templates being a key cornerstone of how we can automate, the best place to start with improving them was to give them a new home. You can store and manage Templates through local or cloud assets to share across your organization and multiple workstations.
The first enhancement you will notice comes in the form of how you save templates. They’re still accessed through the right-click menu, but when you choose to store them, you are greeted with a Title, Description, and Location field to choose from.
Now instead of storing templates in an explorer/finder folder, you have a full environment to manage everything.
Let us look at some of the new library’s key areas that will help you manage these newfound ways to store your setting.
The details pane has two tabs on it for quick browsing, Filters for searching through Folders, and Info for a quick view of the template’s contents.
Taking in the library’s whole view, there a small but critical point of feedback as you look through the stored templates that allow you to quickly assess what the details of the content are, which one you’re analyzing, and how it’s organized.
Putting it all Together with Workflows
Enhancements to the current workflow include overwriting the existing template. If you change to an existing template and decide that you wanted to update the existing template, there didn’t use to be a simple way to push that update. Selecting the template inside the library now allows you to quickly overwrite a change and push it back to the library.
When managing these new templates, we made a very conscious decision to ensure the tools for quickly re-organizing the templates into folders are available. These tools support multiple selections; Shift/Ctrl/Cmd allows you to grab multiple templates at once, right-click copy & paste tools, and drag-n-drop to quickly organize into new folders. If the folder organization is not for you, using the Filters tab will help you to quickly navigate to the strategy you’re looking for.
Lastly, you have mass import and export buttons to share your library locally, but if your Fusion team templates are part of cloud assets, all your Fusion team members can access and share the same templates.
Looking into the future of what is possible with the Template Library, we want to bring new enhancements like deploying templates from the library, more editing freedom, and expanding capabilities to allow the storage of set-ups and folders. Most of all, we are looking forward to this technology getting out to you, getting your feedback on how this fits into your day-to-day workflow, and how the template can help your process. If you are not using templates already, I highly recommend it and hope this brings awareness to how these can automate your programming process.
The Template Library is out in the latest release of Fusion360!