After months of hype and speculation, the first Cloud-based CAD platform is here from Autodesk in the form of Fusion 360. At $25/month per license, a user can purchase their seat in the Cloud for less than a week’s worth of Starbucks lattes. But despite the low cost-of-entry, how does Fusion 360 stand out as a modeling platform? Will CAD in the Cloud change everything as we know it?

Autodesk Fusion 360


Fusion 360 Overview

Featuring a full range of design modeling capabilities (not to mention OS X support), the new flexible offering from Autodesk will certainly change the landscape for not just existing CAD users, but those who are just now getting into the game. While the $25/month license is nearly unheard of for any CAD package, perhaps the emphasis on an intuitive interface will be the most attractive feature for new (and existing) CAD users. According to Autodesk, new users will pick up the skills to model efficiently in “hours or days, not weeks” compared to the often daunting task of learning a program like SolidWorks from ground zero for non-professional users. It could be argued that the learning curve for most CAD packages has been one of the primary factors that filters out the Makers from the Designers and Engineers, but if Fusion 360 really is as powerful and easy to learn as Autodesk says it is, then prepare to see a massive influx of new ‘designs’ on Kickstarter and elsewhere.


First impressions from early Fusion 360 users

Similar to how Adobe has pushed team-friendly sharing features in their Creative Cloud, Autodesk is banking on teams worldwide to be able to log-in and work seamlessly on projects together. Included in Fusion 360 is a translator that accepts most of the common CAD file formats allowing Rhino, SolidWorks, Creo, Inventor, and other users to jump right in with pre-existing projects. And for the OCD file-management types out there, all data, models, and designs are automatically versioned and managed within the Fusion 360 account.


Red Point Studios uses Fusion 360 in their Kickstarter to create custom guitars

Where Fusion 360 really shines though is in it’s ability to be used anywhere, by anyone. With access tied to a login (be it a PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone, etc), it’s possible for all members of a project both inside and out of the industrial/mechanical design department to have access to the project throughout its development….even in real-time over coffee at Starbucks on a phone.

However today’s announcement from Autodesk doesn’t end with Fusion 360’s modeling and team collaboration features: a new partnership with GrabCAD will allow users to publish directly from Fusion 360 to GrabCAD seamlessly…effectively tying the existing GrabCAD community into the Fusion 360 base and vice-versa, which ultimately means even more assets to help speed up your modeling process.

Try it Free for 90 Days

As of today, you can try Fusion 360 for free for 90 days. Give it a spin and let us know what you think in the comments.

EngineerVsDesigner Autodesk+GrabCAD Special

Also, keep an eye out later today for a special episode of EngineerVsDesigner where we’ll talk with Prabakar Murugappan, Director of Mechanical Design Products at Autodesk and Hardi Meybaum, CEO of GrabCAD about the Fusion 360 launchand what it all means for today’s designers and engineers.

Press Release / Click to expand

The Next Generation of Design and Engineering Software Has Arrived

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., June 25, 2013 — Autodesk, Inc. today delivered the world’s first cloud-based software created specifically for people looking to fuse stunning aesthetic design with great product engineering. Autodesk Fusion 360 brings together capabilities typically found in separate mechanical, industrial and conceptual design tools into one, easy to use cloud-based service.

“We’re in the midst of a new industrial revolution that places a premium on the ability to design and engineer products that are both beautiful and functional,” said Robert “Buzz” Kross, senior vice president at Autodesk. “With Fusion 360, there is no longer a compromise between industrial and mechanical design. Users get both in one tool for the first time.”

Fusion 360 offers a radically intuitive user experience, secure access to design information and integrated social collaboration features. Customers can design faster, work anywhere and share with anyone.

What People Are Saying About Fusion 360
“I come from a sculptural background and love working with my hands. Fusion 360 allows the two worlds of modeling and sculpting to blend together, making the entire process a lot faster.” – Bridget Sheehan, MFA Candidate / Industrial Design
“Fusion 360 is the power to create magic while riding on a billion horsepower infinite cloud.” – Stan Hisel, Product Designer and Mechanical Engineer

Pricing and Availability
Fusion 360 is available immediately. It is free for the next 90 days, and upon expiration of the 90-day initial offer will be available for purchase from the Autodesk e-store for $25 per month, per user, based on annual contract commitment. Special pricing is available for students and entrepreneurs.

About Autodesk
Autodesk helps people imagine, design and create a better world. Everyone—from design professionals, engineers and architects to digital artists, students and hobbyists—uses Autodesk software to unlock their creativity and solve important challenges. For more information visit autodesk.com or follow @autodesk.

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.