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Configurations in Autodesk Fusion are here! Learn how configurations are an invaluable tool, offering a streamlined approach to design optimization, risk mitigation, and cost efficiency.
In the ever-evolving landscape of manufacturing, professionals across industries continually seek solutions to enhance productivity, reduce time-to-market, and improve product quality.
Fusion 360, Autodesk’s integrated design and manufacturing software has long been at the forefront of innovation. With its seamless integration of CAD, CAM, CAE, and PCB tools in a single cloud-based platform, Fusion 360 is a one-stop shop for designers, engineers, and manufacturers. Now, with its latest feature update, Fusion 360 is redefining design and engineering efficiency paradigms with the introduction of configurations.
Configurations provide an intelligent way to maximize the utility of your parametric designs. This gives you the ability to create and manage multiple design variations from a single, unified model. However, the value proposition goes far beyond simple model management. Configurations empower professionals to bring unprecedented flexibility to their design and manufacturing workflows.
Whether you are involved in automotive design, where various model trims are a necessity, or you’re in the medical device sector developing equipment that must cater to different user requirements, or the consumer product sector looking to iterate on multiple product offerings in a single manufacturing cycle. Configurations offer the kind of design adaptability you’ve always needed but never had.
Imagine developing an entire product line without creating new models for each variant. Better yet, envision a scenario where your manufacturing workflows are streamlined because you can swiftly adapt a core design to various production stages or materials. This feature is not just an incremental update. It’s a holistic enhancement that promises to positively impact every aspect of your project lifecycle.
Let’s explore the rich collection of benefits, practical use cases, and functionalities configurations deliver. Learn how configurations can save time, reduce costs, and revolutionize your approach to problem-solving, design exploration, and project execution.
Configurations: Getting started
Unlock immediate design potential
At its core, configurations in Fusion 360 serve as a mechanism that allows you to manage multiple design variations within a single model. But what does that mean for you as a user? It means you no longer have to clone models or create entirely new files for each design variant. Instead, you can now develop a single ‘configured design,’ a new document type within Fusion 360, that houses a ‘configuration table’. This table enables you to define and manage multiple configurations. Think of these as sub-models that coexist in the same document.
Create and manage configurations
Once in the Design workspace, you’ll notice a new configure panel on the command interface. You can start a new configured design or convert an existing design into one. After doing so, you’ll have access to the configuration table, where each row represents a different variant of your design. It’s as simple as double-clicking on these rows to switch between configurations. This makes it incredibly easy to compare and contrast different design options.
Configure features and objects
So, what can you configure? A lot! In Fusion 360, configurable aspects are highlighted in blue within the Browser and Timeline. These could range from feature parameters and component visibility to material types, appearances, and even complex rule-based settings. A simple click on a highlighted feature or object shows its list of configurable aspects. Check the ones you want; they will be added as columns in the Configuration Table, ready for you to edit.
Create custom theme tables and properties
When dealing with multiple similar aspects, you can group them into ‘custom theme tables’. This feature is handy for minimizing complexity and allows you to author configurations more efficiently. Each Configuration can also have its unique Part Number and Description, set in the Properties tab of the Configuration Table.
Configurations: Beyond the design workspace
The power of configurations doesn’t stop at the design phase. Once you’ve created your configurations, they become part and parcel of workflows across the entire Fusion 360 ecosystem. Whether you’re working on rendering, animation, simulation, or manufacturing, configurations can be inserted, derived, or used to adapt to various work environments. This means you can generate renderings for each configuration, set up and solve simulation studies, create manufacturing setups, and even generate toolpaths. All without switching between different design files.
Nested configurations for complex assemblies
You can immediately start using Configurations to streamline your design and manufacturing processes by comprehending these key features. Whether you’re an individual creator or part of a large engineering team, the benefits are robust. Reduced design time, lower costs, and increased efficiency are all achieved by leveraging the innovative configurations feature in Fusion 360.
Our friend Justin Brouillette over at Portland CNC has created an amazing piece to help you get started with configurations. Check it out here.
Industry benefits: Leveraging configurations across the product development lifecycle
Introducing configurations in Fusion 360 isn’t just a feature addition. It’s a transformative upgrade that touches every phase of the product development lifecycle. Let’s dive into the tangible benefits it brings to various industries and how to deploy it in your business or process immediately.
For those dealing with complex assemblies, Fusion 360 allows ‘nested configurations’. This is a powerful feature for anyone working on multi-component projects. It enables you to insert a configured component into another design and further configure its features. It’s like having a configuration within a configuration, providing an additional layer of customization and adaptability.
Accelerated prototyping and design phases
The power of configurations is particularly evident in the design and prototyping stages. Instead of creating multiple files or clones for each variant, you can handle all variations within a single configured design. The immediate deployment is as simple as opening your existing standard designs and converting them using the configure command. From then on, you’re set to explore multiple design iterations at the click of a mouse. This drastically reduces time-to-market and avoids the costs of managing multiple files.
Battery-powered nail gun example
Picture this scenario: your company is developing a battery-powered nail gun, and you want to offer a line that includes three versions:
- A basic home-use model
- A professional-grade model with enhanced features
- A lightweight model designed for portability
Traditionally, this would necessitate separate design files for each model. Thus multiplying the complexity of the design phase and increasing the chance of errors.
With configurations in Fusion 360, however, these distinct models can all co-exist within a single design file. The configuration table can differentiate elements like motor power, battery size, and even safety features tailored for each version.
For instance, if you decide that the handle’s ergonomics need to be improved, you can make this change once in the configuration table. This modification will then be automatically applied across all versions of the nail gun. This ensures that your design iterations are faster and more consistent, significantly reducing the risk of errors.
The advantages extend into the prototyping stage as well. You can virtually test the changes across all versions before committing to the manufacturing of physical prototypes, saving both time and resources. When you’re set to transition from design to manufacturing, updating the CAM workflows for all configurations is as simple as clicking a button, sparing you the lengthy re-toolpathing procedures.
Ultimately, employing configurations in Fusion 360 enables a more streamlined, cost-effective, and time-saving approach to prototyping and production in consumer goods.
Streamlined manufacturing workflows
“The issue with mountain biking is there are very few standards, I have to make 10 different sizes of essentially the same component, my seat post clamps. That meant 10 documents, 10 different designs, and 10 headaches every time I wanted to update something, we are always optimizing toolpaths so I’d have to go into each one and apply the improvements. Now I have 1 file that controls all of the variants, if I want to change the speeds and feeds or stepovers on a toolpath it’s one adjustment, not 10. More importantly, when the 11th size that I’m already being asked to make comes out it’s just adding a new row and typing a new diameter in.” – Phil Law, Founder PEMBREE
For the manufacturing sector, configurations are nothing short of a game-changer. Imagine having to re-toolpath every time a minor change occurs in your design. With configurations, you can update your CAM workflows instantaneously with a single click, allowing you to pivot or scale production runs efficiently. Switching active configurations lets you generate different toolpaths for each variant, all within the same configured design file.
Let’s continue with the example of a battery-powered nail gun, which has multiple configurations: a basic model, a professional-grade model, and a lightweight, portable model.
Traditionally, manufacturing these distinct models would require separate setups, possibly different machines or assembly lines. The chances of error and the time for re-tooling between different versions could be significant. In contrast, with configurations in Fusion 360, you can define the various machining operations for each model in a single file. Need to adjust the drill size for the professional model’s motor housing? Modify it in the Configuration Table; the change is instantaneously updated in the CAM setup.
Not only does this save time in switching between different setups, but it also ensures consistency across all versions. In this scenario, once you’ve set up the manufacturing workflow for one model, adapting it for another is just a matter of a few clicks. This allows for rapid transition from one product configuration to another, reducing machine downtime and increasing overall operational efficiency.
Configurations in Fusion 360 are a powerful tool for making manufacturing workflows more agile, accurate, and cost-effective, accelerating the time-to-market for diverse products.
Enhanced simulation and testing
In industries where simulation and testing are critical, such as aerospace and automotive, configurations offer a unique advantage. With just a few clicks, you can switch between different configurations to run various simulation studies, mitigating unforeseen risks before taking a product to market. This multi-variant simulation approach not only improves the reliability of the end product but also reduces the costs associated with late-stage design changes.
Automotive suspension system example
Imagine you’re designing an automotive suspension system with different spring rates or an aerospace wing with variable skin thickness for optimal aerodynamics.
In Fusion’s Simulation workspace, users can leverage configurations to activate different design variations, execute tailored simulation studies for each, duplicate these studies across configurations, and analyze the results for optimal design insights.
For example, you could simulate the stress distribution for a new carbon-fiber wing design in an aircraft. With a few clicks, you could switch to another configuration using a different composite material, instantly running a new set of simulations to compare results. This streamlined process significantly reduces the time required for simulation. It allows for quick, real-time decision-making, making it a game-changer for high-stakes industries like automotive and aerospace.
Robustness in customization for consumer goods
The consumer goods industry thrives on customization. Configurations allow for easy adjustments to features, materials, and appearances, making it highly effective for businesses that offer customizable products. If you’re in an industry where customization is key, use the configuration table to set up different product variants, enabling you to offer an extensive product line without the operational complexity.
In today’s tech-savvy world, smart products like home automation devices are becoming increasingly customizable to meet diverse consumer needs. Consider a smart thermostat with interchangeable faceplates and varying sensor capabilities. The robust customization possibilities of Fusion 360’s Configurations can significantly streamline the design and manufacturing of such complex products.
Enabling agile development in electronics
The agility configurations offer a perfect fit for the rapidly evolving electronics industry. Whether tweaking circuit board dimensions or modifying enclosure designs, you can handle multiple iterations swiftly. It’s the same file, same interface, but with multiple possibilities. Implementing this is as easy as navigating to the aspect you wish to change and choosing the configuration that aligns with your new requirements.
Real-world analytics and feedback integration
One often overlooked but highly valuable workflow is the ability to integrate real-world analytics and customer feedback directly into your configured design. As these insights come in, you can immediately implement changes to existing configurations or even create new ones to better meet market demands, all without affecting the existing production setup.
Configurations offer more than just streamlined design capabilities; they provide a holistic improvement across your entire product development ecosystem. By deploying this feature effectively, businesses stand to gain increased efficiency, reduced time-to-market, cost savings, and a more agile and responsive product development process.
A paradigm shift in design and manufacturing with configurations in Autodesk Fusion
Introducing configurations in Fusion 360 is not just another feature update. It’s a paradigm shift that stands to revolutionize how we approach design, engineering, and manufacturing. With this feature, Fusion 360 leaps into a new CAD/CAM/CAE era, offering a comprehensive solution that fundamentally transforms how products are designed, tested, and produced.
Benefits of configurations:
- Time-savings: Gone are the days of managing multiple design files for different product variants, a laborious process that can slow down product development. Configurations allow you to centralize all your design iterations within a single model, massively speeding up your time-to-market.
- Cost-effectiveness: By reducing the need for separate files and the time-consuming task of switching between them, configurations helps save not just time but also considerable costs related to design management, manufacturing setup, and even re-tooling.
- Design flexibility: Whether you’re in the automotive, aerospace, medical devices, consumer goods industry, or really any industry, configurations bring an unprecedented level of design adaptability. The possibilities are virtually limitless, from customizable features to materials and even complex, rule-based settings.
- Streamlined manufacturing workflows: Imagine updating your CAM setups across all product variants with a single click. That’s the kind of efficiency Configurations bring to your manufacturing workflows.
- Enhanced testing and simulation: Configurations allow you to run multi-variant simulation studies for industries where product reliability is critical. Thus reducing risks and costs associated with late-stage design changes.
- Robust customization: Configurations are a boon for consumer goods, particularly smart products and customizable items. Offering multiple product variants no longer means multiplying your design and manufacturing complexities.
- Holistic project lifecycle impact: Configurations in Fusion 360 impact not just the design but every stage of your project, from conceptualization and prototyping to manufacturing and feedback integration.
Get started with configurations today
In a world where the competitive edge is often measured in how quickly and efficiently you can bring a product to market, configurations offer a genuinely transformative solution. It redefines how products are designed and made, presenting a cohesive, integrated approach that can be immediately deployed across various industries. If you want to enhance productivity, reduce costs, and remain ahead in a fast-paced market, configurations in Fusion 360 is the game-changing feature you’ve been waiting for.