This week in Las Vegas, Stephen Hooper, Director of Manufacturing Strategy, introduced the new update for Autodesk’s Fusion 360 that will change the face of designing and manufacturing altogether. The Product Innovation Platform (PIP) (otherwise known as Autodesk’s Fusion 360) is not just a CAD tool, a CAM tool, a simulation tool, a data management tool, or a rendering tool: it is all of that in one. This update is a huge leap forward for Fusion 360 and will get users to think twice if they are not already using it. Keep reading to learn about 5 of my favorite new features that they just unveiled.
Fusion 360 now has the world’s first cloud-based solution for integrated Printed Circuit Board design. In this update, you are now able to create the physical layout of your PCB in Fusion which includes choosing the mounting points and clearances required in the PCB’s casing. Physical properties of the design can now be used to layout the board’s components within its space envelope while maintaining all the previous associated connections. The PCB design is related directly to its physical environment and common data which can be associatively exported back to the mechanical workspace where it is embedded within the hardware design. If an interference is found between the PCB and the model, changes can be made to the board’s layout geometry with familiar, easy-to-use techniques and any amendments to the electronic design results in the automatic rerouting of all the affected connections which reflect in the mechanical workspace.
Sheet Metal Fabrication
This is the feature we’ve all been waiting for. Sheet metal fabrication allows users to design the type of fabrication process that will be employed in manufacturing. Since Fusion understands the manufacturing process being employed, it can automatically apply setbacks and clearances to ensure the part can be physically produced. But more than that, Fusion can produce the manufacturing instructions themselves because it knows how to unfold the part and produce the G-code necessary to drive the laser cutter and its associative. For example, when you go back to the design and make a change to introduce new sheet metal, not only will Fusion understand how to automatically miter those parts, it is also able to update the previous panels and re-compute the G-code to make sure the manufacturing instructions stay consistent with the very latest version of the design. It can even help to nest the components to get the best sheet utilization on raw materials.
Another Fusion first is the addition of Nastran solver to the simulation workspace. Instead of using simulation to just validate their models, now we can use simulation to optimize them. Tools like event based simulation allow you to apply sequential loading conditions and calculate non-linear results such as plastic deformation over time. This can bring into light unforeseen consequences for the mechanical integrity of the design. Buckling solvers allow users to look at sheet metal components and understand if fail and how they will fail by evaluating the performance of the product. It also offers an on-demand access to advanced design techniques like shape optimization. Shape optimization modifies geometry everywhere (besides the parts needed for assembly) and it only applies material where necessary to support structural loading conditions. This strips the unnecessary weight off an object while keeping the desired factor of safety.
Additive and 5-Axis CAM
This truly is the Future of Making Things. Additive designing and being able to produce toolpath and G-code for a 5-Axis CNC Machine is a step in the right direction. Additive design is a meshed-based, generative design to lattice the internal structure of a component. Due to this honey-comb structure, it provides better thermal cooling for any component while still providing the needed support. Since this design cannot be traditionally made, manufacturers can go about this method by printing the material. On top of additive design is the 5-Axis CAM-ing. This allows designers to be able to mill at different angles which gives their products a cleaner finish with less steps to take. It usually costs $10,000 to attain a 5-axis CAM machine while it is provided in Fusion 360 at no extra cost. Providing these new features in Fusion gives new creative professionals a leveled playing field against other professional giants.
This feature shows off the true power of the cloud. Fusion already runs on a Mac, PC, and any mobile device; now it runs on web access. Users can design, manufacture, and access data through the web. It can be accessed anytime, anywhere, on any device. Working in the browser allows the models, data, toolpaths, and G-codes to update seamlessly. This is one feature I must try.
These 5 new features continue to add to the remarkable product that is Fusion 360. From the new renowned Nastran simulation to shape optimization, 5-axis milling to additive design, and from electronic design to sheet metal fabrication to software browser access, $25 dollars a month is not a bad price to pay for what you get. Fusion 360 can only get better and better and soon (if not already), it is going to be the new super-tool of the future.