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.