Autodesk’s September update of Fusion 360 will go live today (21 Sep 2015), and brings with it a significant upgrade:


Autodesk had announced the arrival of Simulation at least as far back as November of 2014 when they ran their Ultimate promotion. Since we spent the last year paying for access to simulation that never arrived you might feel a bit put-off, but I’m still happy to see its arrival. Better late than never I suppose.

Integrated Simulation

As of last Saturday, Fusion 360 will include Linear Static and Modal Analyses. These will appear on their own Simulation tab, and the simulation model and study results will stay embedded within the single Fusion design file. The appearance and usability provided will be quite similar (if not identical) to that of the previously retired Sim 360 which Fusion 360 used to include. The spaces, for all practical purposes have been integrated which sort of brings us back to where we were some time ago, but with a complete architecture overhaul.

Fusion 360_Simulation

The integration includes automatic contact generation. I suspect this is facilitated by the assembly joints present in the model, but they might be more powerful than that. I will say that it would be a significant benefit if the joint-to-contact translation could be counted on by the user to deliver concise, expected, and useful contacts in the simulation model. I’ll know more when I try it out.

Integrated Drawing Improvements

Parts list enhancements include balloon alignment and renumbering, the latter of which is distributed back to the Bill of Materials (BOM) as expected. Centerlines and hole-centers will dynamically update as the model changes as well.

Fusion 360 drawings

Accessibility with Autodesk 360 Integration

Fusion 360 models are stored in the A360 cloud space, which permits team design work and collaboration. Some of the A360 changes are a wonderful match for Fusion, and the company has wisely capitalized on these with additional integration.

Fusion Simulation Results – Simulation results will be visible and interactive for invited team members. Controls are available to review the results of studies for each file version, without needing anything beyond the web shell.

Restricted Invitee Viewing – A360 now offers Read-Write and Read-Only access to data stored on the cloud, which is a critical improvement. Fusion team members can now invite non-team individuals to review the model through the web shell, but not have any access to the actual model.

Real-time multi-user design review – Fusion 360 offers a portal that permits team members and invitees to view the model simultaneously, and chatting and driving the model view as desired. This is a great addition, and is available from the web shell or directly within Fusion 360.

A360 has had a large UI overhaul which the company hopes will make the space data-centric, and more usable for teams than in the past.

Usability update

As per user request, Fusion 360 now employs keyboard shortcuts, which some consider to be a key design feature in any CAD software. Command searching will also be available, as well as web accessible tips and training materials for Simulation.

Fusion 360 keyboard shortcuts

Coming Soon…

I asked the company what they intended to do with Fusion 360 and Simulation in the near future, as linear statics are only the tip of the iceberg and that we already had more capabilities in Sim 360 more than a year ago. Surprisingly Autodesk didn’t bat an eye in saying that not only were the remainder of the Simulation 360 studies coming in the very near future, but more were on their way.

The partial list that was discussed included thermal and transient studies. When pressed further, the company was reasonably eager to mention the approach of non-linear studies as well, which is quite encouraging.

What I have yet to gather is how and when the Nastran solvers will be coming. The current solvers are all restricted to desktop applications, however Autodesk has stated that cloud solvers will be coming very soon as well [perhaps by the end of the year]. Adding the Nastran solvers on the cloud would be a fantastic possibility.

The Fusion 360 team stated that they are continuously committed to being open about their plans, and intend to build on drawing capabilities and simulation as time passes. Branching-merging PDM workflows will hopefully be part of the next major discussion on Fusion’s upgrades as A360’s data management possibilities expand.

Images shown courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.