Posts Tagged ‘Fusion 360’

The Autodesk Fusion 360 seems to be suffering an identity crisis. It is acting like it no longer wants to be the choice of hobbyists. Fusion 360 is abandoning its “Hobbyist” license and is calling what remains a “One Year Personal Use” license. No indication that can be renewed on a year-to-year basis.

To me this “Cool Hand Luke” failure to communicate is a flashing beacon in the fog. “You hobbyists can play another year, but after that you better “pony-up” for one of our revenue stream licenses,” Is the message I read.

Could be they discovered too many “professional” users claiming hobbyist status.

That is not a problem for me to solve.

I must decide what is best for the 3D CAD drawing that I do. I have many other paid-up options. That means I already own them. Rhino 6 and Vectric Aspire to name the two main ones. I also own Pixologic Z-Brush which is not exactly a CAD but does produce quality 3D drawings and models.

I love working with Fusion 360. It is the more commercial Machine Tool CAD and has the built-in CAM for machine tool operations. Of course, it does far more than just machine part drawing.

I have decided to wait and see what Autodesk has done to F360 for the “Personal Use” license. It has been dumbed down and the number of “Open Projects” has been limited to ten. What that actually means is yet to be revealed. I never work with many “open projects”.  I work on one at a time.

If it means I must store closed projects on my computer rather than accessible in their cloud server, that is perfectly fine with me. That is my preference and always has been. I do not need a cloud server to “share” files.

Meanwhile, I have been working back in Rhino 6 and have decided to upgrade to Rhino 7. Neither are a subscription service nor require storing my files in a remote cloud server. (I have BOX if I need to do that.)

Rhino lacks the built in CAM unless one ops for the RhinoCAM (or other) add in CAM plug-ins. That is a minimum of $400/year for the CAM.  Makes Fusion 360 look good. It was the prime reason I started using Fusion 360.

I am not doing the CNC machining as I once did. Three-dimensional printing has gotten in the way. Slicer software generates the g-code for 3D printing. CAM is not required.

With so many CAD programs already available, working, and fully paid; I do not want another drain added to my hobby funds. That is the driving force pushing on me now.

If the personal use term with F360 is extendable past one year and the software can do what I need with no pain, then it stays in the mix. It could remain my go-to CAD. But if Autodesk is slapping my face and only interested in converting personal use into paying subscriptions, I am prepared to bid F360 “Adieu” and work with the quality tools I already own outright.

CNC Milling


S. Whiplash, Typical CAD

It’s been a while since I have run my original CNC Taig Micro-Mill. It’s the one configured for metal work and has the mist cooling installed. There is nothing operationally wrong with it as far as I know. Just haven’t had a project where I needed its services.

I have always used RhinoCAD (Rhinoceros) with RhinoCAM to generate the design and the Gcode necessary to run the mill. I am presently working with FUSION360 CAD with its built-in CAM. FUSION360 has become my go-to CAD for 3D printing because of the very good built-in STL generator. Rhino can do STL too but has some issues (for me) in producing first-time usable STL.

CAM is a whole new layer of complexity after creating the CAD drawing. Of course, the first challenge is the CAD, as what is drawn must be something that can be produced by milling. It is possible to draw parts that can never be machined.

The CAM requires the complete understanding of the milling operation and all the tools that can be deployed on the target milling machine. In the case of the Taig Micro-mill, tool size is limited to the machine’s abilities and speeds. I have no need for things like an automatic tool change. I am a hobbyist, not a manufacturing center.

CNC is certainly not “push the button and go”. The complexity is what I love about the process.

I use two different CNC controller software systems to control the movements of the milling machines. The older mill is using MACH3. The newer WAX cutting mill runs on LinuxCNC controller software. I was very pleased to see what is called a POST processor available in FUSION360 for both controller formats.

The POST processor is a function in CAM that converts the machine movements to the dialect of G-code the machine controller can understand. G-code is a standard, but there is a huge variety in how the actual code is written for the controller.

Every controller manufacturer does control in their own way. That is what a POST processor does. It puts the standard code in a format the actual controller program can understand. It is a patch.

I have a simple 2D CNC machining metal project to cut new wrenches to fit the ER11 collet holder on my new high-speed spindle.  The spindle  installed on the Taig mill used for 3D wax machining.

The design of the wrenches is simple, but the CAM details needs to be configured within FUSION360.

The “tool table” defines in exact detail, the milling bits and holders used. Next is configuring the speeds and feeds the Taig mill can utilize with those tools in the specific materials to be machined. Saving all those details so they can be reused later in a new project. I’m lovin’ it!

It appeared overwhelming when first looking at the tool table. It was huge, with A LOT of tools pre-listed. But I soon discovered how to easily make a personal table better suited to my needs.

The results will be posted when the FUSION360 CAM is used on the wrench project. For now, its all about getting a new system configured. It just needs to be done correctly and I foresee no major obstacles. Stay tuned.

I am presently using two very good 3-dimensional CAD programs. They are Autodesk Fusion 360 and Robert McNeil & Associates Rhino3D. I am at a decision point on which one will be my standard go-to drawing program.

I have had the longest association with Rhino. I started with version 3 and version 6 has just been released. Major version number upgrades must be purchased. That’s why I am at a decision point.

Fusion 360 is free for users like myself. That is a major advantage. The Rhino3D upgrade is $375.00.

It seems like a no-brainer to stay with the free one. But for me price is not always the sole determining criteria.

My problem is that both programs are very good. The largest difference is the cost-to-own. If I had to pay for Fusion 360, I must admit that cost would be a very large determining factor. I certainly don’t want to be paying for two programs that are almost equal in results for how I use them.

My decision is to continue using both. I will pay for the upgrade in Rhino. It’s about $1.05 per day for a year. I can live with that. Major upgrades do not occur yearly, so the cost spreads out thinner.

I have no idea if Fusion will remain free. It does seem to be a very friendly marketing strategy.

One hesitation I have with Fusion 360 is it is cloud-based and dependent on a connection to the Internet. It seems to me it access could be shut down very quickly. But every computer activity today depends heavily on an Internet connection.  I feel any change in the free use policy won’t be immediate.

I have just changed my business accounting to a web-based service. It’s how we work today.

What keeps my fingers happy with Rhino is my long experience using it. It has changed a lot, but I have changed with it. It’s like working with an old friend.

My initial attraction to Rhino was its lower cost than other 3D CAD at the time and the fact I could run a plug-in, RhinoCAM, to create tool-paths for my CNC machining.  Both programs together were not low cost, but together do the job I needed.

Right now, I don’t know if my older version (2012) of RhinoCAM will operate with the Version 6 upgrade of Rhino. Disappointing if it doesn’t but not a reason to leave Rhino.

The Fusion 360 has a built in CAM so the tools still do the same job. I could export Rhino drawings to Fusion.

There is my conundrum. I choose not to make it a choice between CAD programs and instead continue to have the option for using both.

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