My team had a meeting with Autodesk yesterday and they were really pushing Fusion 360. We have been using Inventor Professional for a couple years now, mainly because the engineering class at our high school teaches it.
So my question is; what are the main differences between the two and would it be worth the switch next year?
My main thing against fusion 360 is the lack of the constraint commands. I’m fusion you can only joint parts.
The thing that fusion does have on inventor is accessibility, being able to get i to a project that you worked on at school, at home is a benefit. That feature can be achieved with programs like grabcad.
Other than that the two programs are pretty similar, with that being said after trying fusion I definitely prefer inventor.
Autodesk is really putting a ton of resources behind Fusion, with the ultimate goal of claiming back market share from Solidworks. All the newest updates are coming for Fusion first, and it’s a recommended download on the Inventor download page. I’ve been told that at some point in the not-too-distant future, Inventor will be no more, and everything will be in Fusion.
I find Inventor to be a mature, professional, enterprise-class product. It’s been around for 20 years. Fusion has come a long way in the last 2 years, but does not match the mature “feel” of Inventor. Also with Fusion, you do not choose your updates, Autodesk chooses for you. You may launch your software one day, and something is totally different from yesterday, which is super annoying. Also, I much prefer the hierarchical tree of the Inventor browser to the Fusion feature timeline which I find to be confusing. That said, both softwares essentially do the same things now.
Data management is different. In Inventor, you have the option of running Vault. And if you run Vault on Amazon EC2, that’s the hot ticket and is fabulous. In Fusion, you get the Autodesk cloud backend, which can be a little flaky, but is getting better. However, there is no PDM checkin/checkout workflow yet for Fusion.
Long story short, like it or not, Fusion is the way of the future, and you can either jump aboard the train or watch it pass you by. For now, I’m choosing the latter.
Having used Inventor for years I’m somewhat biased, but I tried to use Fusion 360 once when I needed some CAM software (before I found out about HSM), I got so frustrated with the non-intuitive controls that I eventually just gave up and uninstalled it. You also cannot import native Inventor models to it (which seems insane to me given they do basically the same thing and are made by the same company).
There are of course some advantages (and disadvantages) to having everything cloud-based, but personally I find Inventor to be much easier to use and a much more powerful tool overall.
Direct from Autodesk people I’ve encountered here and there. Inventor is still being developed, with new features and refinements being added, but my personal guess is that 5 years from now, Fusion is where everything will be.
As lead (only) designer for 1155’s robot this year, I can attest that yes, someone (me) has designed an entire FRC bot entirely on Fusion. Let me talk for a bit about my experience.
100% I love how they have done cloud integration. It absolutely promotes collaboration and is great at keeping all of your previous revisions (more than once I had to revert because a rookie decided to experiment using THE MAIN ROBOT FILE). If there is any one reason to use Fusion, this is it. No hassle, works like it should, and keeps everything safe.
Autodesk is throwing tons of money at the program right now, meaning you have an extremely active and supportive development team. There are constantly new tutorials coming out on YouTube and plenty of help on the forums. And yes this means they are pushing updates constantly but I never had that interfere with my design at all during build.
In terms of potential, I think Fusion has the potential to be a better CAD program than solidworks or inventor will ever be. But it might not be there yet. Is it good enough for FRC? Definitely. Will it annoy the $#!+ out of you at times because a certain feature you expected to be there isn’t yet and as a result you need to take a roundabout method to accomplish your goal? Also definitely.
So the million dollar question: do you make the switch? Obviously for my team the answer was yes. Cloud integration and active support outweighed the inconveniences. For others, I honestly think it is a matter of time before we are all forced to switch, either by shutting down inventor or by Fusion totally eclipsing inventor in every way. There is little doubt that Fusion is the CAD program of the future. The real question is when you bite the bullet and leave behind the comfort of inventor.
I know our team is actively investigating switching to Fusion from SolidWorks because of the cloud features. Right now, only students who have their “own” computers can work on CAD, or it can only be done on our single computer at the lab.
Given that our school gives every student a Macbook Air, switching to Fusion would allow anyone to contribute or view what is going on… we think. Still checking it out. It seems one hurdle is going to be signing up for all of these individual licenses instead of one large block.
I just remade my account to check, it took about 10 minutes and I was downloading Fusion. Link to get started quickly is here.
This year I was also the CAD leader, and worked with another student and one of our sponsors to design our robot in Fusion this year. The sharing was incredibly helpful, and the web interface is really good for sharing designs with teammates who don’t have an account. Fusion also recently released an update that allows there to be multiple parallel iterations of a project, similar to branches on github, which has a lot of potential as my team grow larger.
The customer support through the forums is also great. During the season a small feature was removed in an update which affected my workflow. I posted a complaint to the forum and within a couple days the feature was patched back in. There are definitely a lot of features such sheet metal design tools that are not currently implemented, but updates come out constantly, and the integration from CAD to CAM is great.
Fusion360 doesn’t allow you to create interactive assemblies. You can only mate or joint parts; there are no other types of constraints. It’s probably because Fusion is primarily meant for product design.
Fusion does have other useful features, (simulations, rendering, etc.) but it turns out that Inventor has the same things. Inventor also has drawing and presentation features that don’t exist in Fusion. In essence, Inventor can do anything Fusion can do… and more.
You can do interactive sliders and rotational stuff, it doesn’t have some of the more advanced stuff but what’s available is sufficient for FRC.
Inventor doesn’t have the primary feature of Fusion, cloud based storage and collaboration. It also doesn’t have native Mac Support. Nor does it have native CAM functionality
Realistically for a **FRC team ** Fusion 360 is plenty sufficient for 99% of everything we do. Don’t kid yourself, the CAD we do for FRC is simple relative to the use cases these products are designed for. It’s not about what software has the most features but how well those features work for your team.
InventorHSM is basically identical to Fusion on the CAM side of things, and while not quite seemlessly integrated like Fusion, Vault can be a superior way to collaborate and do data management in Inventor.