Between Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks’ recent announcements of their SolidWorks for Entrepreneurs program (which has created some confusion for existing small businesses and freelancers) and an update to their subscription policy (which seeks to close out or penalize those who don’t upgrade each year), many of the the CAD software’s most loyal users feel as though they have been thrown onto a hazy merry-go-round ride and it’s been difficult to know when – or where – to get off.

But as more SolidWorks alternatives become serious contenders in existing user workflows, many users have promised to “jump ship” in favor of a more streamlined product and customer service experience that reflects what people have come to expect for other goods and services in 2015.

Aiming to help make the transition for SolidWorks users to get started in Fusion 360 as easy as possible, Autodesk has announced a new Fusion 360 Fast Track offer for existing SolidWorks users that extends their typical trial period of Fusion 360 from 30 days to 90 days. In addition to the extended trial period, individuals will receive 2 hours of free “Fast Track” consulting to get up to speed while teams of two or more people will receive a generous 60 days of free “Fast Track” consulting – which will include a focus on making a smooth migration of data between the two programs.

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“The last few weeks have seen some interesting program decisions coming from Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks,” says Autodesk’s Stephen Hooper, in an open letter to SolidWorks users.

“We recognize that many of you may feel frustrated, confused and/or trapped without any credible alternatives for technology tools and purchasing options. It’s easy to see why. The 3D CAD landscape is changing and SolidWorks hasn’t seemed to notice.”

We caught up with Stephen to find out more about what Autodesk has in store with the Fast Track program and what it means for teams both large and small:

Why are you not pitching Inventor as an alternative?

Our intention is to give highly skilled product development professionals, currently working with SolidWorks, a taste of the latest cutting edge product development technology.

Fusion 360 is a fully integrated cloud-based, CAD/CAM environment built for teams. Combine this with the level of accessibility it offers, both in terms of ease-of-use and simple term based access, and SolidWorks users will find Fusion 360 offers a natural progression to the new way of designing and engineering products.

This is not shift away from Inventor or Product Design Suite. In fact, Product Design Suite subscribers get access to Fusion 360 as part of their subscription. Inventor remains an incredibly powerful alternative to SolidWorks for which we also offer attractive upgrade paths via our desktop subscription pricing models.

We recognize that SolidWorks professionals have different needs, and that those needs often change depending on the projects being worked on. Our goal is to give SolidWorks professionals that are feeling disenfranchised, access to the best product development tools now and in the future.

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How can people deal with their legacy data?

Fusion 360 provides a set of services to easily migrate data from more than 100 different file types including SolidWorks, Catia, NX and Pro Engineer. For SolidWorks users that are ready to invest some time exploring an alternative, we want to make their experience as frictionless as possible. Legacy data translation is clearly one of the areas that we want to focus on during the 2 hours of consulting time that we’re offering to everyone as part of this program.

What are the limitations and benefits of larger companies who are considering the switch?

Larger organizations will find benefit from Fusion 360’s integrated environment, which enables them to move seamlessly between concept, engineering, fabrication (with CAM included) and 3D printing. Most larger companies also have distributed teams and partners globally, and our connected cloud-based collaboration platform is built to enable them to work more closely together over long distances and time zones. Lastly, even new users to 3D design will find that Fusion 360 is built to help them quickly and easily get up to speed with what were traditionally complex techniques.

Fusion 360 is a rapidly evolving product development technology that updates every 6 to 8 weeks. Large companies do have to be prepared to accept regular updates and changes to functionality. It’s cloud-based, which means they also have to be prepared to collaborate on the cloud.

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Why now?

We know that the market is undergoing an incredible amount of disruption and requires a new breed of technology to help designers and engineers embrace the challenges that they face. Fusion 360 is the answer to what we call the Future of Making Things, where massive changes to the means of production, product and demand dictate a more agile cloud-based product innovation platform.

What exactly can users expect from the free training?

We’re quite familiar with the pain points involved with these kinds of transitions. There is always going to be a learning curve and an investment of time and our goal is to minimize that friction. For this program, we’ve extended our trial period to 90 days to eliminate any financial concern or commitment and will provide everyone 2 hours of consulting. Our team of consultants has years of in-depth experience with SolidWorks and is therefore well equipped to facilitate a smooth transition. The sessions cover everything from file translation to menu familiarity and step-by-step walkthroughs comparing how things are done in Fusion 360 vs. how they’re done in SolidWorks.

The 60-day Fast Track program is designed for teams of two or more in businesses of all sizes. These are deep engagements where we assign one of our experts to meet with customer teams at a regular cadence, both on-site and by phone. We offer mentoring, advice and technical support. Our experts will help their design and engineering teams realize how much more quickly they’ll be able to take their idea from concept on through to production, in a single environment.

Finally, I want to emphasize there is no cost or commitment associated with this. It’s purely our desire to attract a new class of users to our already thriving community.

Existing SolidWorks users can sign up to take advantage of the extended Fusion 360 trial period and free consultation over at Fusion 360 Fast Track.

Author

Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.