You’re Looking at Fusion 360 Wrong… And I Completely Understand Why

Rob Cohee
by Rob Cohee 5 years ago 4 min read

How do you describe something that is parts Rhino, Inventor / SolidWorks, MasterCAM / Gibbs, EPDM / Vault, AutoCAD, Keyshot, etc.? Each of them might say – “it doesn’t have the same feature set.”, and they go off comparing how Fusion would model X part click for click in line with how they would model it in SolidWorks. How Keyshot has this particular type of material, or how Rhino creates a surface. Of course it’s going to be different in methodology, but in result? This is the dialogue we’ve had with users, one aspect of design at a time, one feature at a time. So what is Fusion 360…? I’m glad you asked, it’s summed up in 60 seconds of awesome right here:



It’s also how those of us in the industry have compared our products between each other and it serves no other purpose than to distract from the primary reason (in my view) that Fusion 360 exists – It solves many of the issues that have ticked you off about the CAD industry for decades: incompatibility, Installation / adoption, and Licensing.


Here’s how Autodesk Fusion 360 should be considered. First by the sum of its parts, which you will find to be a Product Innovation Platform rather than just another 3D CAD tool. Then by its ease of implementation and adoption, and finally total cost of use. Note that I didn’t say total cost of ownership.


Sum of its Parts 

A Product Innovation Platform includes Concept, Design, Engineering, Drafting, Visualization & Animation, Data Management, Collaboration, CAE, & CAM functionality all in a single application that runs on Mac, PC, and mobile, all for $300 a year. A subscription for any one of those as a stand alone application for $300 is a value, but that’s not what we did, and one of the key reasons Fusion 360 is fundamentally different. If you have the time to watch the full depth and breadth that’s included – check out this playlist and take the Product Tour – 



Ease of Implementation and Adoption

I can’t believe sometimes that I have to argue this point, but if we’re honest with each other here installing software sucks. Setting up servers, deploying clients, managing licencing, struggling with mismatched file versions, updating machine code after a small change, replicating data, the endless email exchange of key decisions between too few people in the design process… the lot of it – it sucks. Why did we put up with it? There really wasn’t another way, it was less expensive than the alternate, and we were more productive with it than without.


With Fusion 360 just log in, setup a project and start collaborating on it. Invite anyone into your projects, and without any setup on either end and you’re productive. Contrast that with the last file you sent somebody. (insert long pause here for reflection…) 


Adoption is dramatically different than trialing. Show me somebody that uses 3D design tools and I’ll show you a trialer. We’ve all installed dozens if not hundreds of trials, but why didn’t you adopt them over what you already use? The soft costs of the change (training costs, dips in productivity, investment in the data, etc.) never seemed to surpass any gain even if the technology was slightly better. This is why I’m convinced that the desktop software battles have been fought and trenches firmly established between Inventor, SolidWorks, Pro/E, etc. Switching from one of those to the other is simply too costly without significant gain. 


Now cloud technologies enter the market, Fusion 360 leading the way and its delivered in a manner that doesn’t require a months worth of planning just to install. It’s simplified licensing no longer requires a full time person just to keep track of the vendor relationships. Then you have to go about the process of adopting it, transitioning from the tool you have relied on for your professional success onto the next one. 


What are we doing on that end of things? How about putting people behind the problem? Starting this Thursday and every other Thursday we are hosting a virtual Fusion 360 Quick Start hosted by the Fusion 360 Street Team (I’ll post more about this “Street Team” later in the week). Here are some details:


The Fusion 360 Street Team is hosting bi-weekly Fusion 360 Quick Start Training Sessions starting this Thursday, March 10 to help our customers quickly close the knowledge gap while you start out with Fusion 360.

In this session we will cover:
User Interface / Navigation / Preferences
Managing Data
Sketch / Model
Sculpt Environment
Bodies & Components
Parametric vs Direct Modeling




Now here’s my final disclaimer… Yes, I work for Autodesk and that’s my velvety smooth voice on the videos shared so clearly I’m interested in its success in the market. That hasn’t influenced my opinion that to compare Fusion 360 to anything else on the market by evaluating it on any one category (Concept, Design, Engineering, Drafting, Visualization & Animation, Data Management, Collaboration, CAE, & CAM functionality all in a single application that runs on Mac, PC, and mobile, all for $300 a year) you’re looking at it through too narrow of a lens. 


That’s certainly my opinion, I’d be glad to hear yours. 


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