Does Fusion 360 hold the key to product development?

Product design and development in the 21st century is very much driven by technology.
Gone are the days of hand-drawn sketches, a lengthy prototype and testing stage, and a completely separate fabrication process. Manufacturing has evolved considerably over the past few years, with a new generation of CAD (Computer-Aided Design) and CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) software available that makes product development easier and faster than ever.
Autodesk Fusion 360 is leading the field in terms of innovation and is pushing the boundaries of product development.

What’s so special about Fusion 360?

Ok, so maybe you’re thinking, ‘Stop right there, I have a product design CAD and CAM package I’m perfectly happy with, e.g. SolidWorks, Inventor, etc., why would I want to go to all the trouble of changing my software?’
First off – Fusion 360 avoids all the hassle of changing over your software package as it is available over the cloud, usable straight from your web browser on a licensed package. No upheaval or the inevitable teething problems associated with installing new software on your network.
Autodesk is also breaking new ground by including generative design tools within the latest release. Generative design is an iterative process that automatically optimizes a design to reach predetermined parameters and objectives.
Fusion 360 has many other useful features and benefits over other CAD and CAM packages. Let’s take a look at some of the main ones.
  • Full integration from design to fabrication
Fusion 360 boasts a wide range of tools that allows you to make changes to the design, simulate the finished product and adapt the manufacturing process, all in one package.
You can sculpt, stretch and finish 3D designs quickly using the intuitive interface, then use the simulation tools to test and validate them. Additive manufacturing is supported, so that prototypes can be made and tested rapidly.
The CAM features control the production of the finished parts, supporting additive (e.g. 3D printing) or subtractive (e.g. CNC machining) manufacturing techniques.
  • Efficient collaboration
A neat feature of Fusion 360 is the cloud-based file storage and collaboration tools. This means that tasks requiring teamwork such as design reviews can be done remotely, saving time and money. The product development cycle has never been easier to navigate and complete, which means more products can be put out to market in less time.
  • A wide variety of CAD tools and modeling techniques
Instead of forcing you to use two or more separate packages for CAD and modeling, Fusion 360 allows you to model using parametric, direct, solid or surface and other geometries, either importing them or creating them directly. You can sketch, draw, sculpt, render and simulate all within the same interface. This saves a lot of time and effort compared to learning different packages, not to mention the cost savings, too.
  • Versatility and convenience
There’s no doubt that this software is versatile. It can run on Windows or MAC, as well as through a browser. It uses cloud computing to boost processing power, speeding up memory-intensive tasks such as rendering or generative-design iterations. The cloud also makes file storage and retrieval much easier for people across the product development team.

Applications of Fusion 360

Swissomation, a precision machining company with operations in Texas and Virginia, have adopted Fusion 360 into their business. They manufacture small precision parts mainly for the hobby, firearm and military industries, and have benefitted greatly from the new software. It has enhanced their customer service, allowing clients to be more involved in the design process. Sketches and designs of any software format can be imported and modified, making life easier for both the client and company. The CAM aspects of the software also help to reduce tool wear and make the overall process much more streamlined.
Furniture manufacturers Coalesse have implemented Fusion 360 in an attempt to standardize their design process, previously using several packages to effect their designs. They have been impressed with its high degree of integration and ease of use. A designer for the company said that she has been able to create complex and intriguing shapes that she would never have been able to make on other software.
You can check out many more customer case studies here.

The product development process reimagined

Fusion 360 takes a time-consuming, creative and complex process and simplifies it without losing any functionality. Its powerful tools and features increase the control that users have from start to finish. Designs can be created or imported, worked on collaboratively, adapted and tested all in one package, something that has never been previously possible.
Also, the inclusion of a generative-design tool is going to revolutionize the way people think about design, ushering in a new era of optimized, high-quality and aesthetically unusual products.
To summarize, Autodesk has developed software that is perfect for designers, product developers, managers, machine operators, and fabricators, making things easier at every stage.

Ellie Rathbone

Social Media Marketing Specialist at Autodesk, managing all advanced manufacturing social channels across multiple platforms. Based in the UK.

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