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fusion 360 or solid works

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I have no formal training and everything I have learned about machining has come from members here, you tube, and trial and error. With that being said, which program would you recommend someone like me? I have never used any type of design software but it would be nice to print out a set of prints vs drawing them.
 

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#2
Well, for starters, Fusion is free for hobbyist.

I use Fusion and love it. To be fair, I've never used Solid Works.

Ted
 
#3
I received a free one year trial of the student version of Solidworks about 3 months ago. But have never used Fusion 360, so cannot compare the two.

To me, Solidworks is extremely complex and difficult to learn. I have made some progress -- mostly by studying a number of the hundreds of video tutorials that are available online. But I still have not learned enough to be anywhere near proficient.

So before continuing to put a lot more time into it, I asked around and found that a subscription for an individual will run somewhere near $2,000/yr. As a hobbyist, there is no way for me to justify that expense. So I am now looking around for alternatives, Fusion 360 being one. For the moment I am continuing to use Sketchup.
 
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#4
I, like Technical Ted, use Fusion 360 and have no experience with Solidworks. Having no prior CAD experience Fusion was a huge step for me, but worth it. I am by no means proficient but I now know enough where I can model parts and generate CAM files. And you can't beat the price!
 
#5
While I started with paper and pencil long ago, I started CAD with CADKEY (now KeyCreator). It was based on geometry not parametrics like Solid Works so I loved it. Yes FREE is hard to beat for Fusion360 if you claim not to make a profit from using it. Solid Works was to expensive to the school I taught at and it is based on parametrics. If Solid Works is your thing I know of a few good books.
 
#6
I've used SW for a while. It is very powerful & I consider myself decently proficient. I have not used 360 but watched some training videos. The impression was similar workflows. SW is a parametric modeller. I 'think' 360 is the same/similar. You draw 2D sketches, make them into 3D solids by a multitude of common tools (various flavors of extrusions, rotation). Then multiple ways to modify these solids again using combination of 2D constructs or 3D tools like cuts, holes, chamfers, feature mirroring, pattering. At this point you have something called a part, lets call it a piston for example. Assemblies are collection of 2 to a gazillion parts joined together by various defined mates. Examples of mates are edges, face to face, coincident axis like a shaft withi a hole, rotate about a line, point. So a completed engine would be example of a moderately complex assembly.

Some people say 360 is <pick a number> 70% of SW in terms of CAD modelling capability. That is infinitely debatable because it depends on what features you commonly use & how buggy the version is. But 360 has a CAM module, SW does not. I'm not sure about 360 drawings/dimensioning capability but think I've seen nice examples. SW drawings capability is excellent & powerful.

SW is probably 5K to buy at its lowest offering, plus annual maintenance fees. The only discount is being a FT student in registered program during the program and I think possibly military/veterans/?? you would have to check. 360 is free for hobbyists although I heard rumbling about price structure changes. maybe that was for commercial. I keep waiting for the shoe to drop (meaning price increase) but so far hasn't. You need to satisfy yourself what 'cloud' means in 360. I've heard everything from a convenient storage mechanism to essentially what equates to holding files ransom depending, but again, due diligence from experienced users & forums is much better than hearsay.
 
#7
I've used both, and prefer Fusion 360. In the long run, it's all about personal preference, so the best thing to do is try them both. OTH, if money is an issue, there's no question which one you should go with.
 
#8
I've used SW for a while. It is very powerful & I consider myself decently proficient. I have not used 360 but watched some training videos. The impression was similar workflows. SW is a parametric modeller. I 'think' 360 is the same/similar. You draw 2D sketches, make them into 3D solids by a multitude of common tools (various flavors of extrusions, rotation). Then multiple ways to modify these solids again using combination of 2D constructs or 3D tools like cuts, holes, chamfers, feature mirroring, pattering. At this point you have something called a part, lets call it a piston for example. Assemblies are collection of 2 to a gazillion parts joined together by various defined mates. Examples of mates are edges, face to face, coincident axis like a shaft withi a hole, rotate about a line, point. So a completed engine would be example of a moderately complex assembly.

Some people say 360 is <pick a number> 70% of SW in terms of CAD modelling capability. That is infinitely debatable because it depends on what features you commonly use & how buggy the version is. But 360 has a CAM module, SW does not. I'm not sure about 360 drawings/dimensioning capability but think I've seen nice examples. SW drawings capability is excellent & powerful.

SW is probably 5K to buy at its lowest offering, plus annual maintenance fees. The only discount is being a FT student in registered program during the program and I think possibly military/veterans/?? you would have to check. 360 is free for hobbyists although I heard rumbling about price structure changes. maybe that was for commercial. I keep waiting for the shoe to drop (meaning price increase) but so far hasn't. You need to satisfy yourself what 'cloud' means in 360. I've heard everything from a convenient storage mechanism to essentially what equates to holding files ransom depending, but again, due diligence from experienced users & forums is much better than hearsay.
I've heard those rumblings about no more "free ride" subscriptions too. Should that go away I've protected myself by exported my files, there are four file types besides the standard f3d format available, and saved them to my hard drive. I then use FreeCad to open them. If I need to save them in another format FreeCad has a multitude of options. It's a bit of fiddling but I don't feel I'm being held hostage should Autodesk change there marketing strategy towards students and hobbyists.
 
#9
For my hobby use, I'm not too worried about their eliminating the free for hobbyist version... I don't think they will, because I think that would be a bad business move and practice for AutoCAD and would alienate their paying customers as well, but who knows??? It would kind of be like a bait and switch. If they do, I would at least think they would give sufficient notice so someone could take action and save the files they want saved to import into something else. For me, that wouldn't be a big deal. For a start up company it might not be so easy.

So, it all depends on what your comfort level is.

Ted
 
#10
I have a seat of SolidWorks and have used it for more than 12 years and I like it. I also have Fusion 360 downloaded but haven't really done anything with it due to the amount of time necessary to climb the learning curve. The biggest differentiator is the cost. Fusion 360 is free to hobbyists whiule SolidWorks is more than $4K. My SolidWorks seat is the 12012 version and as a result, I can't view files created in any of the versions released since. Even the SolidWorks parts models that McMaster Carr has are a future version so I have to download the iges version and because I have the Standard version of SolidWorks rather than the more expensive version by $1.2K, I can't open the features of the part.

If I didn't have SolidWorks, I would definitely go with Fusion because of the cost and of file compatibility. This is speaking as a hobbyist. Were I a professional creating revenue in part from the use of the product, that might be a different story though. Basically, it's about are you willing to spend several $K a year on your CAD package.
 
#11
Several years back, I talked with the AutoDesk reps. who were demonstrating Fusion about their continuing offering of Fusion to hobbyists, at no cost. Specifically, I asked them if there were any plans to make Fusion a paying service in the future and their answer was definitely "no".

Even if you are paying for Fusion, you have the option of "renting" by the month for only months that you need it. When I last heard, the rent was $60/mo. The annual rental was $360.

On another note, Fusion360 has integrated CAM whereas SolidWorks, as far as I know, does not. It is web based but you can work off line. Because it is web based, it is upated to the latest version every time you log in. One of the advantages of this is everyone is on the same version, making communication much easier. Another is that they can fix small bugs or add features which are released immediately rather than waiting for a major release.
 
#12
I think we are all in pretty close agreement - match your needs & trade-offs to the price. Should be a slam dunk decision for aspiring 3D hobbyists or smaller emerging entrepreneur type businesses starting from scratch. The real question is why hasn't F360 pricing model had a discount effect on SW?
 
#13
Fusion 360 is a great solution for a hobbyists. @petertha - SW doesn't make it easy to get a free or discounted version especially with the features that Fusion 360 offers. Solidworks has a TON more features once you start adding on modules. E.g., F360 has a sheetmetal module, but SW sheetmetal is superior - once you pay through the nose for it.

It makes me wonder if 3DS is just waiting for Autodesk to crack and start charging as they add features to make it more SW like. I for one, hope Autodesk doesn't go down that road and justs focuses on making F360 lighter and easier to use for hobbyists and entrepreneurs.
 
#14
To the best of my knowledge, there are just 3 versions of SW. Link summarizes the differences, but go on SW site for more detail.
https://www.javelin-tech.com/blog/2018/07/solidworks-packages-comparison/

Module is kind of misnomer because each SW version looks identical other than it has extended capabilities, so basically more stuff on the menu. But they work seamlessly with one another in one familiar session. For example Mold or Surfacing tabs appear as unique menu tabs within Standard but they gather logical common commands under that heading for workflow efficiency. Sometimes module can mean a 3rd party plug-in app. Sometimes it means a standalone program with completely different look & functionality but supports specific data standards. Rhino is like that. They module you to death.

Anyway, I don't do much sheet metal but I have watched training videos. I am confident that the capabilities built in the lowest SW version (Standard) is incredibly powerful. You would be hard pressed to come up with an enclosure with all kinds of sheet metal features like bend & weld allowance, tabs, louvers.. that it couldn't handle. And unlike some cheesy packages you can start with a complex solid because it integrates with surfacing tools, yet another 'tab'. Now Premium on the other hand (the big boy, big$ top version) has 'advanced surface flattening' if that is what you mean. But that capability is much more powerful that unfolding even complex typical sheet metal enclosures. And of course it has all the other stuff like advanced simulation & motion analysis & ...
 
#15
To the best of my knowledge, there are just 3 versions of SW. Link summarizes the differences, but go on SW site for more detail.
https://www.javelin-tech.com/blog/2018/07/solidworks-packages-comparison/

Module is kind of misnomer because each SW version looks identical other than it has extended capabilities, so basically more stuff on the menu. But they work seamlessly with one another in one familiar session. For example Mold or Surfacing tabs appear as unique menu tabs within Standard but they gather logical common commands under that heading for workflow efficiency. Sometimes module can mean a 3rd party plug-in app. Sometimes it means a standalone program with completely different look & functionality but supports specific data standards. Rhino is like that. They module you to death.

Anyway, I don't do much sheet metal but I have watched training videos. I am confident that the capabilities built in the lowest SW version (Standard) is incredibly powerful. You would be hard pressed to come up with an enclosure with all kinds of sheet metal features like bend & weld allowance, tabs, louvers.. that it couldn't handle. And unlike some cheesy packages you can start with a complex solid because it integrates with surfacing tools, yet another 'tab'. Now Premium on the other hand (the big boy, big$ top version) has 'advanced surface flattening' if that is what you mean. But that capability is much more powerful that unfolding even complex typical sheet metal enclosures. And of course it has all the other stuff like advanced simulation & motion analysis & ...
SW Professional is hard to beat as far as features go. I guess that is what I was trying to say about F360, I hope they don’t ty to go to that level because then I think it will push it into a revenue model and out of reach of hobbyists and entrepreneurs.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
#16
Well I don't want to jinx it, but even if F360 is say 70% of SW Standard, a guy is 5K ahead of SW & therefore a steal. Maybe F360 had already made its target return on the commercial side & the whole free/underwritten Hobby thing is their form of CAD gateway drug advertising strategy. If so, that is very admirable IMO. And conversely maybe SW (and all the others for that matter) have done their market research & determined that 1% of hobbyists would commit to a full seat having tried it for free or low cost. In fact I think SW does that too to anyone for some limited time period, but I might be wrong. The SW college deal is certainly targeting a higher sales probability crowd. It helps with the resume & transitioning into industry which is the essentially the big leagues & where these Apps reside. Some student engineers I've spoken to at work says uni-A may use Inventor & uni-B may be SW etc. But this software decision occurs at faculty/admin level, not a student choice, just like textbooks & tuition. I guess we can speculate all we want about this stuff, it is what it is for now.
 
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#17
In 1997, I was managing the engineering department for a medical device company. At the time, we were using a CAD package called Vellum, which ran on Mac's. SolidWorks was the new kid on the block and AutoCAD was the industry standard. I proposed that we change our CAD to SolidWorks and was told by the COO that AutoCAD was what the rest of the world used and we would use it too. We bought AutoCAD. Five years later, we bought three seats of SolidWorks.

SolidWorks grew to be the industry leader, fairly well leaving AutoDesk in the dust. IMO, a major part of that success was offering free seats to educational institutions. Students became familiar with the software and when they moved into industry, carried that preference with them.

As much as I love SolidWorks, there are some things that I don't like. They changed their marketing strategy from owning the seat(s) to virtually leasing them forcing an an annual upgrade in order to be able to communicate with other users. They don't recognize the fact that startup companies, strapped for cash, can't really afford to spend $5K for a seat and $2K for an annual subscription but somewhere in the future, they will be successful businesses using multiple seats. Also, SolidWorks doesn't have a fully integrated CAM option.

AutoDesk missed the boat and have been playing catch up ever since. IMO, this is why they have the generous offer of free usage of Fusion 360 for educators, students, hobbyists, and small businesses not yet making significant revenue. They are betting on the idea that by making their product readily available, they will win the popularity contest and emerge the world leader again.

Fusion 360, with its cloud based strategy, has the ability to make overnight upgrades. All users are using the same version due to the application of any updates when you log in. It also allows you to log in on any computer (providing you are running a 64 bit operating system). You can also log in on a smart phone with limited capabilities. Integrating CAM into Fusion is also a plus. The photorealistic rendering in Fusion requires the Premium version of SolidWorks. I like that they are listening to the users and constantly improving the product. When I was at a Tormach open house a few years back where Autodesk was presenting Fusion, a suggestion by one of the participants was fired back to their software people and incorporated in the next day's update.
 
#18
I think I will just go with F360 since I use it for personal use only. I like what I have seen of SW and if I were making a living with my machines thats what i would use. I have to upgrade my computer to use either so thats another expense. I just dread the learning curve that comes with making the jump from paper and pencil. I really need some way to model parts to make sure my measurements and figures are correct. I never was good at the kind of math that is used in machining.
 
#19
I don't want to diminish the learning curve because we have all been there. I also want to paint a picture of a bright future if you persevere because I truly believe it. It will make your designing & ultimately machining better, if for no other reason than less boo-boos. Or at least that's what I experience.

I did a lot of manual drafting in high school but never got into the computer stuff until Autocad was firmly entrenched in industry. Unfortunately not my industry/occupation. I took an AC correspondence class through local technical college, purely for home hobby interest. I think it was v14. Kind of funny in hindsight but I think the going price was 4K$ or something ridiculous for what is now considered a rudimentary freeware 2D package. So just like our F360 SW discussion above, commercial AC was never going to be an option for me. I used some DOS or Win-95 knockoff version that was 90% of AC functionality & actually did a lot of 2D work with it. I had a glimpse of Autocad 3D & it was the most brutal convoluted dogs breakfast I had ever seen. Completely turned me off 3D. I don't know exactly but I think they drove a stake through the heart that bastardized add-on, left it mostly as 2D & were already working on a completely new platform (Inventor) to compete with SW & others.

Then I got a $200 student version of Rhino 3D which went for $800-1000 commercially & had a good roll with that for some years. Essentially identical to AC-2D commands to make the the 2D outlines/constructs, but intuitive & simple tools to make complex 3D objects & surfaces. But... non parametric, no such concept as parts or assemblies, weak to non-existent drawing capabilities, plug-ins after plug-ins to make it start looking like a big boy program. It has its place but is not great for things like machine design.

So to lay some comfort to paper & pencil transition, all the 3D packages kind of work the same way. They all use some form of initial 2D drawing and from that allow you to make them into 3D objects. That's why I recommend going to a 3D package vs 2D only, because you have already put half the work in to develop the base drawing anyway. But 3D capability is so much more powerful. Can you make awesome things drawing on vellum, or 2D? Sure. Its been done for a long time. But that's not the point. Its that you have so much power & capability at your fingertips for essentially no cost other than your learning time. And now there is so much web connectivity for training videos, forums... there was never a better time to jump in IMO. But I also don't like when people say 'they all work the same so it doesn't matter'. I think it does matter purely out of familiarity so would spend some time choosing the right package & stick with it. Yes a circle is a circle, but you start to develop muscle memory & workflow techniques. So jumping around 4 different CAD programs is not helpful either.

And there is no real math. You basically draw, assign dimensions & the math magically pops out to make your life easier. Using a calculator example, you enter numbers in & answers magically come out. Nobody remembers logarithms or does mental gymnastics or moves slide rules anymore. Well some do & power to them. But my point is its just EASIER to use current CAD programs once you are over the hump.
 
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#20
Check out Lars' YouTube videos for learning Fusion. They are great! He doesn't make any new ones now since his job role has changed at Autodesk, but he's got a whole bunch of great learning ones out there. Also, it doesn't take a power house PC to run Fusion. Just download it and install... try it out. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Ted

 
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