Design and Manufacturing solutions through Digital Prototyping and Interoperability

Tag Archives: cloud

A Review of Frame for Business

What is Frame? Think of Frame as an online computer in which you put your software, applications, and related tools and access it through a web browser, anywhere, on just about any device. There are many benefits of using Frame, including the flexibility of working from any location, only requiring an internet connection and a browser.


Frame uses the power of the cloud to let you work freely from anywhere.

I recently got a chance to test drive frame, and after using the “Personal” edition for a couple weeks I decided to upgrade to Frame for Business. Frame Personal is for a single user – used as your own online system. Frame for Business is a single administered “sandbox”, published to a pool for users to access. If you haven’t heard or seen Frame you should start by reading my previous article, found here.

Frame - Sandbox

The Dashboard is where the administrator installs applications and selects products to include for the team members. Using the dashboard, external “drives” are connected to act as the “local” storage. This includes support for Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box. Connecting drives is as simple as clicking the button and logging in.

Frame for Business is really “IT light.” Your software only needs to be installed and setup one time and then can be accessed by any number of users from the Frame Launchpad (in a browser). Frame is easy to use and you will literally be up and running in a few minutes, well a few minutes plus the time it takes to install the software.

From the dashboard you literally power on the Sandbox (which is the “online PC” you use as your master image) to install the application you require, as you would with your own system. You are running Windows, no differently than you would on your own system. As the Administrator you configure the environment and then publish it for access by your team members.

Inviting users is accomplished via the Team Settings section. An email is sent to them with the instructions to set up their new account. Added team members will only have access to the system you have configured.

Frame - Team Members

There is a bulk option when you have multiple people to invite all at once.

Frame - Invite Users in Bulk

After adding users, direct them to the Knowledge Base, specifically the “End user Quick Start Guide”, which will get new users of Frame up and at it in under 15 minutes.

The Knowledge Base serves other purposes other than just for new users. I accidentally navigated away from the Frame page and wondered what the best course of action was to restore my session…. the Knowledge Base had the answer!

Frame - Oops I Closed My Browser

The Administrator of a Frame for Business account is provided tools to track usage. This includes real-time viewing of the active sessions and usage by hours over a day, week, month, or the entire year. Additional settings include things like setting the maximum length of any session.

The basic Air system contains 1-CPU, no GPU, and 4-GB of RAM, but this can be quickly kicked up to the Pro system with instance switching under “My Account” to get access to 4-CPUs, 1 4GB GPU, and 16-GB of RAM. With this flexibility, you can use the Air system for “lighter” type work and consume less credits.

Frame is subscription based, based on a monthly fee, which gets you an amount of credits. The credits are consumed as you use your online PC. The amount of credits used however is dynamic, based on the system type you are using. For example, the Air system is great for working with less graphic intensive applications like Microsoft Word and it consumes less credits per hour than using the Pro system – which is best for graphics apps like 3D CAD.

One of the things that impresses me the most about Frame is how they seemed to have thought of everything. The Utility Server addon provides a general purpose Windows 2012 Server to host license managers, databases, and other things like that. Basically, it’s an area to put things that are accessible by all systems within your Frame ecosystem.

People hate waiting, especially for technology. That’s why Frame incorporated elasticity to automatically scale the system between minimum and peak usage. With elasticity, you set the minimum and maximum number of instances and the desired buffer. A buffer is up and running constantly, so that a system is ready to go when someone wants to connect. After the first person logs in (and consumes the buffer system) the next system boots automatically to become the buffer.

Frame - Production Pool (Electasity)

As mentioned earlier, the process is to launch the Sandbox and install the applications as you normally would. When the application is installed you will be prompted to Onboard it. When an app is onboarded it is accessible as a standalone application that can be run without first starting a desktop session.

Frame - Successful Onboard


What else can I do with Frame?

How about sharing your session with your customer, vendor, co-worker, or good buddy? It’s doable with the Share Session feature, meaning you can invite someone else to join your session and see your application, sharing the mouse and keyboard. The other person does not need a Frame account to join in on the fun.

How about embedding your apps on your website? Yep, it’s possible with the embed code feature.  Embed your app by adding just a single line of code to any web page, just like you would embed a YouTube video — only this is a fully interactive application.

As I said in the last post, the Frame offering is well thought out and creates a great user experience. With the connection to cloud storage, it truly does provide the ability to log in anywhere, anytime, and continue right where you left off.


The exclusive offer from Frame  just for Design & Motion readers has been extended until the end of November. Enter the code DESIGNMOTION2015 for $25 off Frame Personal or Frame for Business (expires 11/30/2015).

The more things change, the more they stay the same?

Just before I went on vacation Jonathan Landeros (Inventor Tales) posted a great article about old technology vs. new technology – how new doesn’t always mean better. It should really be about picking the right tool for the job. On my vacation the family and I went away for 7-days to Prince Albert National Park (Waskesui) and I left my computer(s) at home. I still had my phone, so I wasn’t completely disconnected, but with no laptop at my disposal it left me lots of time to think and contemplate things.

What I ended up thinking the most about was my day job and the current technology at use. What I mean from this is that we are not adopting new technology and processes, we’re not even evaluating or considering most of them. Why is that? and is this ok? I also though about the current “rut” that I was starting to feel, from a technology standpoint. Which is odd as I never have considered myself bleeding edge, but I’ve always felt that I’ve had a good handle of what was going on….. but now? I’m starting to feel left behind.


So what “new” technologies am I thinking about? The Cloud

, Robotics / AI / Drones, Electric Power, 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing, New Materials, IoT (Internet of Things), Easier more integrated access to CAD / CAM / FEA / Visualization, and the the blurring of lines between BOM / PDM / PLM / ERP / MRP / CRM / add acronym here. There is also generative design and many other unbelievable things happening.

There is also the change in how business is being done… crowd sourcing, crowd design, open source new-shoring, …. and the blurring of what’s public and what’s private. What does Intellectual Property (IP) really even mean anymore?

Change happens, and hopefully when it happens its a good thing. At my day job what really changed things for us was the acquisition of an electrical vehicle manufacturer. This has made us look at how we do things differently, and how we can approve. The status quo is no longer the status quo, which is good as one never wants to become stagnant. The new mine being built in the province has mandated 80% electric use for machinery and equipment, with a clear goal to exceed this. What an opportunity for us!

As you can see I was thinking about a lot! But also note that not everything is new, some items have been around for years but are just now becoming mainstream.


I’m going to embark on a series of posts exploring each of these trends and the new technology. I am far from the expert which I think makes it great as there will be plenty of opportunity for feedback. What has worked? What are you looking at? How are you approaching it? I want to explore how to approach the new technology from an individual personal and professional aspect as well as why companies may or may not look at the new tech.

For this series we’ll use an example company “ACME Mining Equipment”, that I’ve made up, but I don’t think is that dissimilar to a lot of small to medium companies. Here’s their profile:

ACME Mining Equipment is a  company that primarily manufactures, repairs, and services underground mining equipment. The company started as a custom machine / fab shop over 35-years ago. They have one facility and around 150 employees. They have a very small, but very loyal customer base, many whom we’ve done business with for over 35-years. ACME (or AME) is classified as a small, engineered-to-order, manufacturer (at least as far as ERP companies classify things) as they customize just about everything that goes out the door to meet their customers requirements. The customization is what separates ACME from their bigger competition that just pushes “boxes” out the door.

  • ACME is an Autodesk shop – through-and-through – they use Inventor, AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD Mechanical, Vault Professional, Simulation Mechanical, and even have a few seats of PLM 360 floating about.
  • They make things from purchased items and steel (laser / plasma cut profiles & standard structural shapes). Welded or bolted together
  • Although they have some CNC capabilities, most of the programming is done by hand on their NC machines (for various reasons – I’ll explain more later)
  • Communication with the customer is done mainly via the phone and email. Outside of quotes, sales order confirmations, and manuals very little other types of documentation are exchanged.

Keep watching the site!

All imagery from GRATISOGRAPHY

Onshape’s Roll of the Dice – Initial Review

A few different articles have popped up over the last few days discussing Jon Hirschtick, his new company and the Browser based CAD product, Onshape. Predominantly they have focused on the enviable history of those in charge and the recent success of raising a decent whack of funding to continue development. You have to give this team respect, they absolutely nailed it with Solidworks from the mid 90’s onwards, then John McEleney and his executive team went on to grow Solidworks into a US$400m revenue company, they clearly know what they are doing! But let’s not hide from Onshape’s elephant in the room, Autodesk delivered Fusion 360 several years ago now and it was in development long before that. Onshape have their work cut out, and as of today they will be doing it publicly with the launch of OnShape Beta. So how are they doing?

Design & Motion have had access to Onshape for a couple of months now. Personally I haven’t played with it anywhere near as much as I would’ve liked, so this evening I threw myself into it, watched most of the tutorial videos and set about trying to recreate Jon Landeros’ 12 sided dice.

Pricing Model

Onshape pricing

Free – This edition, touted for students, makers and startups, is fully featured, but limited to 5 active private documents. You can create unlimited numbers of public documents, but nested away under the feature pull downs is a limit of 5GB storage space. We can’t tell the size of each document, so there’s no way of telling how many documents you can store publicly, at this point it’s not clear if the storage limitation applies to both private and public documents, or just the 5 private ones.

Professional – The first paid for version of Onshape. At US$100 per user per month right off the bat, and for a beta grade product… it seems a bit steep. But, Onshape will need some revenue and there is no better gauge of a product’s usefulness than if people will actually pay for it. What did take me by surprise was the lack of a discount for the annual subscription, that rolls in at US$1200. For that money you get ‘Unlimited’ private documents and billing management tools. I put unlimited in quotes, because again there is a storage limit of 100GB.

Enterprise – This level of the product is Price On Application. So I would imagine it would be much better pricing based on your negotiating skills and the clout you can wield within the industry. Most of the additional goodies revolve around enterprise level support & SLA’s etc.

While you can’t tell the size of individual documents, you can see the amount of storage you have used so far from your account page. So far my account contains 3 basic parts, and I’m up to 31.59 MB…. they are some seriously storage hungry documents.

My Documents

When you first get access to Onshape your initial view of the product is the Documents page. Here you can access and view your Private documents, but also Public documents. Tutorial and sample files and can be accessed from the navigation pane on the left side of the page. Essentially it’s no different to using Windows Explorer, but with a web UI twist. Each document displayed in the center of the page is listed in a Detail view, with a settings button at the end of each row. This allows you to inspect the history and versions of the document, as well as share and make the document inactive.

Onshape My Documents

Inactive? What’s that all about? At this stage I think it only applies to the Free product. So you can actually create more than the 5 documents listed, up to your storage limit. I haven’t come across any significant road blocks as a result of the active/inactive behaviour. But I would imagine it being a pain when it comes to collaborating with others. And that’s the point I believe, after all, they need us to pay for the use of this tool.

So what’s a document? Essentially it represents a single design set, within the document you can create parts, assemblies and eventually drawings. These appear at the bottom of the screen in tabs, Onshape refer to these different environments as ‘Studios’. I actually quite like that name and may give a hint of what’s to come with the product.

One area of the Documents I haven’t really explored yet, and one which is clearly at the forefront of this product from an architectural standpoint, is the version branching. I will try to circle back and review that in a later post. I’m keen to compare it to the similar functionality about to be released later this week with Autodesk’s Fusion 360. Exploring design ideas, managing internal change but also change imposed by customers is a big deal within design and engineering companies the world over. This feature could end up being a big differentiator between the two products, making it inherently functional but intuitive will be important for these ‘next-gen’ CAD products.

Help & Tutorials

Onshape Help and TutorialsOne area where Onshape has to perform is within the support network for the product. They don’t have a worldwide network of support staff and sales people yet (although they are openly accepting applications for partners). Is it needed? I don’t think it’s needed for sales necessarily, but large deals in large companies are done face to face. There is no doubt the current Onshape sales team will be doing face to face sales with large companies in the USA moving forward. But the general stand alone user and SMB, probably couldn’t care less. What they will care about though, is getting good support and training. Can that be delivered satisfactory with online resources & phone support? That remains to be seen. So what is there now?

At any point you can access Help, Videos and Tutorials from the Help drop-down menu in the top right corner of every page. So far I haven’t done any tutorials, but I have watched most of the videos and used the help file. I enjoyed watching the videos and the help file is well laid out and appears to be complete. Without a support channel in the form of resellers around the world to provide a support buffer, I’m interested to see how well they keep this documentation and these videos up to date as the product quickly develops, and navigates in line with users needs. This is an area where Fusion 360 has struggled, you often find videos & tutorials for Fusion features, but the product has moved on since then. As you will find within CAD departments with Standards documentation, it can be hard to keep up with the pace of change. Cloud driven products accentuate this more than ever.


Onshape Sketching

I slipped straight into sketching in Onshape, it’s remarkably similar to Autodesk Inventor, placing sketch dimensions is visually different, but ultimately you are just typing in a dimension or Expression. Onshape refer to them as parameters, but to be clear, Onshape doesn’t support parametric sketching yet. There is no provision for global variables, you can however type in a wide array of expressions as values for dimensions (as well as mates in the assembly environment). There are also a number of cues within the sketch environment very familiar to me from Fusion 360.

The problem is, sketching is inherently a fiddly process and therefore it’s one which demands a dexterous user interface. As soon as your internet connection gets squeezed so does the responsiveness of the UI. This translates to multiple attempts at activating the dimension to edit it, or waiting for a sketch highlight to highlight only to become frustrated a click it again thinking you missed it… then you realise you just deselected the damn thing. The user interface is to it’s create more nimble than other cloud hosted UI’s I’ve played with from New Zealand, but they weren’t saleable products and not something being touted for production use. What is clear though is WebGL and browser based UI’s are improving fast (So is NZ’s local internet and connection to the USA).

Currently, the sketch environment doesn’t contain any tools for creating text objects, so I had to draw my 1 & 2 manually. In that respect I couldn’t reasonably recreate the embossing typically found on the face of dice. I really couldn’t be bothered trying to sketch out each number. It was upon zooming this close to my model, that I discovered an issue with the way the selections work when applying selections (I haven’t provided this feedback to Onshape yet). To select multiple sketch objects, you don’t have to hold down CTRL or SHIFT, you can just keep clicking. You can click a second time to deselect objects, but to completely reset the selections, you have to click on the graphics window background. That is fine if you aren’t zoomed right in. It’s not a major, but I found it threw me a few times and found it awkward to work around.

Part Modelling

Onshape dice closup - part ribbon

At first glance it seems like most of the modelling tools you would need are in the part environment. There are quite a few, but the immediate one I found to be missing while starting to create this dice, was a boundary patch command. I couldn’t find a way to create a flat surface other than extruding one. I worked around it by starting the model with an oversized lump, then hacking it up with work planes, splitting the solid into two bodies and deleting the orphaned body. Boundary patches are essential in CAD modelling, so I have no doubt they won’t be far away. It is still the first day of the beta after all.

There were a lot of work planes to create for this model… about 12 funnily enough. But the process, although repetitive, was a breeze. Onshape have done a good job with the user experience when creating work planes.

Onshape ChamferOne of my favourite modelling features so far, is the ability to select faces within the Chamfer tool. Inventor and Fusion require the user to select the edges they want chamfered. Onshape’s pedigree is showing through here, since Solidworks allows face selections for chamfers and fillets also. This will save a tonne of time eventually.

Beyond this I haven’t explored the modelling tools any further yet. But it is clear they are currently very limited, which you may be surprised to hear having already read popular press covering Onshape in the last 24 hours.


Onshape Sample Assembly

The assembly environment is an area where I need to spend some time, but I was curious about some of the samples. I quite liked the look of this cute little fan mechanism, upon opening I fondled it somewhat, only to find it doesn’t work. The components are all Mated into position, but none of them interact with one another (i.e: the gears don’t work). Clearly this is an area which will be improved.

But what surprised me about this particular assembly was the lack of edge smoothing being applied to the blue ring. Graphics of that quality are not acceptable by many in desktop products. Again I have no doubt this will be something the Onshape team will be keen to work on.

Onshape MatesI have of course watched the assembly tutorial videos to see what it’s all about. I was pleased to see Onshape’s Mates are very similar to the Joints found in Autodesk Inventor and Fusion. This approach is far more user & simulation friendly than the old skool Mates found in Solidworks and Constraints found in Inventor. In addition to being able to create Mates between placed components, you can create some additional design intelligence by applying Mate Connectors to your components prior to them getting anywhere near being used in an assembly. These in turn speed up the placement of the components and avoids repeated application of the same Mates in future assemblies.


Onshape Browser Based Errors

Earlier on today and late last night (just prior to the beta going live), I noticed a significant performance drop off from what I had been used to with Onshape. I had to continually reload the page whenever I opened a new document. The Onshape team were very responsive with respect to dealing with the issue, as evidenced with this tweet from John Rousseau:

To John’s credit, also immediately after that tweet, I didn’t see that connectivity issue again. However, I do still spend a lot of time looking at this rotating wheel of boredom. This product isn’t as snappy and responsive as it needs to be. Onshape LoadingI have fibre at my home office and the office in Auckland, in both those locations the UI lag is tolerable, but it does take a while to load documents still. Then I was using a hotel ADSL connection last night, and honestly, the experience was horrible. And this is the challenge Onshape must overcome to make this product successful. It’s all very well having it perform within the major centers of the USA, but the internet in New Zealand is faster than it is in the vast majority of continental USA. How many servers, in how many locations around the world can Onshape afford to have running to deal with this user experience issue?

As I mentioned earlier WebGL, HTML5 & Internet connectivity are all improving at such a blinding pace, these issues will likely dissipate over the next 2-3 years. But in the meantime, Onshape need to keep customers paying $100 a month.

Closing thoughts

I am aware this is day 2 of the beta, I can’t be too harsh, and some of my comments about product may seem harsh to some. But Onshape are asking people to pay to use this product from day 1, some they say, already are. So that notion has been in the back of my mind while writing this up.

Although it may not have seemed like it at times, I am genuinely glad Onshape has arrived on the scene. Fusion 360 & Onshape will drive each other forward and hopefully keep each other honest. Competition is good. However, my biggest disappointment with Onshape so far relates to a word I used in the opening paragraph, Respect. Onshape have continually brushed off the existence of Fusion 360 as viable competition for them, I don’t think they have used the name Fusion once. Fusion 360 started out life as a desktop based technology preview, Inventor Fusion, available from Autodesk Labs in mid 2009. Then in March 2013, it graduated into a full blown cloud hosted CAD product sitting inside a custom browser. While it did work (with similar issues I’ve experience with Onshape), it wasn’t what users wanted. Autodesk listened, and chose to focus on a hybrid approach. This kept users coming, trying the product, then continuing to use it. So all this ongoing hoopla about Onshape being the first true CAD product in the cloud, is misleading and assumes the users they are communicating with to be fools. Business is business, but so is competition and with competition, there is sportsmanship. If an up and coming athlete behaved the way Onshape have been, then their peers and fans would most likely look quite dimly on it. Far better to acknowledge the competition in public, then take greater joy from kicking their arse in the future.

I enjoyed reading Adam O’herns post earlier today, the first few paragraphs got me all riled up but he then diffused me with aplomb. However, I don’t entirely agree with one section of his post:

“What about all those folks buying ShopBots, OtherMills, Carveys, Form 1’s, and those love-to-hate Makerbots? Every stinkin’ one of ‘em just signed up for Onshape. What about the rapidly increasing number of engineering contractors, freelancers, and boutique design shops all over the world, Dads with too many power tools, kids who take things apart, or anyone currently using Sketchup?”

While I think they should definitely sign up and take a look at Onshape, at this stage they really would be silly to use it over and above Fusion 360. They just get so much more from it from freeform surfacing to FEA and CAM to 3D printing. Given the fact Onshape do have a free plan, you would be silly not to sign up and have a play. I will say this, from the very first time I tried to use Inventor Fusion until very recently with Fusion 360 I found it a struggle to ‘click’ with the program. But Onshape immediately felt different, I felt relatively comfortable pretty quickly (helped by it’s similarities to Autodesk software), for all it’s issues and challenges ahead, it does have a certain ‘Je ne sais quoi’. I even quite like all that grey iconography.

GrabCAD Workbench just got a lot smarter…

Today was an exciting day. I’ve been following the development of over the past year or two and they keep impressing me.

I’ve always been excited by companies that diversify in unpredictable, but sensible directions. GrabCAD is one of these. Starting out as an online CAD file sharing platform, they broke the mold in the way they delivered their product, not only by using community sourced content, but also by creating a fun user experience with innovative features like point ranking systems for popular files and users. As their geometry-viewing technology improved, the site morphed into more of a web app with a lot more useful functionality and social media integration.

GrabCAD's content sharing portal, with social media integration


When GrabCAD first announced Workbench as a cloud based collaboration tool, I was keen to dive in and give it a go. It was fairly basic at that stage and I looked at it as “a good start.”

The real diversification started however, when they decided to become more than a content sharing tool, and add content creation/editing tools. In a somewhat timely fashion, Autodesk’s new 360 products, namely AutoCAD 360 and Fusion 360 arrived on the scene, and a partnership was set up which meant that GrabCAD users could now create and edit 2D and 3D geometry inside the GrabCAD environment. It should also be noted that Luxion added a GrabCAD integration for their very popular Keyshot, to allow rendered images to be sent directly from their application to GrabCAD. A GrabCAD app for mobile devices rounded out the sharing/viewing workflows to make an all-round pretty useful toolset.

There was something missing though……

Collaboration quite often means multiple users actively working on the same dataset, and when this happens, version control obviously becomes hugely important.

So coming back to why today was exciting. There was an announcement that GrabCAD had added a desktop sync client (think Dropbox for engineers), version control, and partner workspaces. I’ll go through these in a bit more detail below.

Desktop Client / Version Control:

The desktop client is the link between your GrabCAD workbench (in the cloud) and your computer (in your office). To set it up, you just download and install it, and then map a Workbench project to a local folder on your hard drive. It monitors differences between the local copy of the file and the cloud copy using Git (Wiki reference) technology which was developed for Software version control. This technology looks at file at a bit level and creates snapshots of the data which can be compared to see where differences have occurred. What this means, is that if someone that you are collaborating with, edits your files, the GrabCAD desktop client will detect that your local copy is no longer the latest, and it will give you the option of keeping your version, or getting the latest one from Workbench. The conflict resolution dialog is slick and the feedback is clear and concise. The application also provides quick links to your local folder.


GrabCAD Workbench desktop sync screen showing 408 changes that need to be uploaded to Workbench.

Figure 1 – Sync Screen showing 408 file differences that need to be uploaded

GrabCAD Workbench desktop sync details screen shows specific differences and status icons.

Figure 2 – Details Screen shows specific differences and status icons

The version control extends through to the Workbench cloud app, where a version history is kept, and features exist that allow you to compare differences between versions. Of particular note, is the cool little version compare slider, which lets you visualise the changes using a clever colorization key based on whether material has been added or removed.

GrabCAD Workbench version compare shows material removed (in purple) in web app.

Figure 3 – Version compare shows material removed (in purple)

Partner Workspaces

This is probably the feature I’m most excited about. A very common hassle for designers/engineers is getting their manufacturing data ready to be sent off, and then the actual process of sending it off, to the suppliers. While many tools exist for rapid creation of data such as profile cutting data, there aren’t many tight workflows for actually delivering this data. Most companies I have seen resort to sending it via email. Everybody knows the frustrations of following conversations by email. Let’s face it, it’s an old technology, and while it has its place, I think the delivery of manufacturing data can be done much better.

Enter Workbench Partner Spaces….

Right-click file in GrabCAD Workbench to add to a Partner Space.

Figure 4 – Right-click a file to add to a partner space

Partner spaces can be created and assigned to external teams / contractors / suppliers. Any files that you send to Partner Spaces will be accessible to the collaborators that you nominate for each one. The file doesn’t get moved from your original location, but what ends up in the Partner Space is effectively a link. This means that you can easily control who gets access to which data. The nice thing about this, is that your partners can review / comment on data in the workbench environment, and also visualise version changes and updates. Sure beats a long email trail.

Files shared in GrabCAD Workbench Partner Space.

Figure 5 – Files shared in a Partner Space

Here you can see files that have been assigned to Roy’s Router Room Partner Space. A short list of the files can be expanded in the browser, or full details viewed in the main window. On the right you can see the access control list. What I’d really like to see GrabCAD do now, is to make available some more property information, as well as filters, so that model files in the main Workbench project folder can be sorted and grouped by material, thickness. When this is possible, categorising your files to send to partner spaces will be a very very nice way to work.

Well done GrabCAD, keep up the good work and I look forward to hearing more exciting developments.


Fusion 360 Goes Live

Fusion 360 priceFour years to the day after Autodesk announced Inventor Fusion as a technology preview, Autodesk announce that Fusion 360, their cloud accessible 3D CAD modeling platform, is commercially available. The licensing cost is $25 USD / Month / user, however beginning today there is a 90 day free trial. Although significantly, the product will be completely free for Students and Enthusiasts, that’s a game changer right there.

Fusion 360 offers easy to use, easy to learn interactive direct modeling of solid objects, as well as complex surfacing capabilities via the integration of their T-Spines technology. One of my favorite parts of Fusion 360 is the ease of assembly; the interactive assembly joints are quite easy to apply and manipulate. Not only only do they get recognized within the simulation environment, but you can use them to create motion studies

Fusion 360 keeps track of your model version information in an easy to use project workspace, and keeps track of that information automatically. This frees the user from checking data in and out.

Fusion 360 implements the new Joints approach previously seen in Inventor 2014


Fusion 360 motion study

One of Fusion’s earliest claims to fame is their far reaching model format translation, able to import almost any format of 3D CAD model into their projects. Furthermore users can control which team members have access to the project data. The project data is tied to a Fusion 360 account that is perpetually available on the cloud, including when you don’t wish to license the service.

Fusion 360 Surfacing

Fusion 360 allows users to open the data and export it, you simply can’t edit it until you need to license the service again. This makes Fusion 360 possibly the most flexible, collaborative 3D modeling tool available.

A significant part of Fusion 360 is its Social Collaboration tools. The product leverages Autodesk’s 360 storage technology and builds a social interaction layer over the top of it. This allows users to interact with each others models, commenting, reviewing & requesting changes to better suit the overall design end goal.

Fusion 360 Project

Another announcement is coming in a few days that ties in another partnership with this service. Check back in this week for those details. In the meantime go download your trial and start playing with this awesome bit of kit:

Fusion 360 Download Link


Join the Community