An Overview of Surface Modeling in Fusion 360

Emily Suzuki July 7, 2022 2 min read

Discover the capabilities of surface modeling in Fusion 360, how it relates to solid modeling and the advantages that come with it.


Most 3D designs begin as a 2D sketch – but how does a 2D sketch become a 3D design? Traditionally, 3D modeling was achieved by creating a 3D skeleton or wireframe. The wireframe geometry consisted of lines, arcs, and splines. Then, the designer could create a surface patch over the lines, arcs, and splines to create a 3D model.

This wireframe process is still used as the basis for most CAD software. But there are other and sometimes better ways to produce 3D designs. Surface modeling is mostly automated and helps designers reduce production times. Let’s look at this process and how it can help streamline your ideation and revision processes.

What is surface modeling?

Surface modeling is a way to display 3D objects in a CAD environment that is at times easier than solid modeling and more robust than wireframes. You can create and edit surfaces for repairing, patching, or designing geometry. Designers and engineers use this modeling method for product designs, organic form modeling, 3D gaming animations, and more. Unlike solid modeling, surface modeling requires the designer to define exterior curves and shapes.

Without properties of thickness or mass, surface modeling gives the designer the unique ability to adjust the 3D model in ways solid modeling will not allow. However, this means that you can not slice surface models open as they are virtually hollow.

What is solid modeling?

You’ve heard us mention surface and solid modeling a few times already, but what’s the actual difference between the two?

Surface and solid modeling represent 3D objects as a collection of triangles or polygons. However, solid modeling is a more complex method of creating a 3D model. The core objective of solid modeling is to ensure geometric correctness across all surfaces.

Naturally, neither method is better or worse than the other because each has its applications within the design process. Experienced designers learn how to utilize both surface and solid modeling for their projects.

Surface modeling in Autodesk Fusion 360

One of the biggest advantages of surface modeling in Autodesk Fusion 360 is the CAD software’s ability to automate the workflow for repairing troublesome surfaces. This means you don’t have to spend your time troubleshooting an imported file that opened as a bunch of disjointed surface bodies. The last thing you would want to do is have to send the file back to the customer in exchange for a different file format.

Fusion 360 also has parametric surfacing tools to design aesthetic surfaces that also fit a specific function. Continuity is important, so Fusion 360 provides tools to maintain contact, tangent, and curvature to a continuous adjacent surface.

Additionally, you can use a tool called Boundary Fill, which allows you to intersect, cut, and combine all in one. And this is all great for multibody Boolean regardless of whether it’s a solid body, surface body, plane, or another geometric tool.

Download Fusion 360 today to experience seamless 3D modeling — think eliminating file transfer issues, reducing troubleshooting times, and more.

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