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Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »
MCADCafe Weekly (11/29/2012): Autodesk Fusion 360 Cloud-Based Design
November 29th, 2012 by Jeff Rowe
Autodesk Ushers In New Era of Cloud Based Design
Autodesk previewed Autodesk Fusion 360, the world ’s first comprehensive cloud-based 3D modeling offering, at Autodesk University.
Autodesk Fusion 360 allows design and engineering professionals to more easily create 3D product designs and collaborate with others in the cloud. The cloud technology behind Autodesk Fusion 360 offers anytime, anywhere access, from virtually any mobile device or web browser and puts essential data at the center of the design experience. It also supports an open design environment, allowing designers to readily incorporate and modify CAD data from virtually any source.
“Data is at the center of the product design process, and the cloud frees that data to be accessible anywhere, anytime, ”; said Robert “Buzz ” Kross, senior vice president, Design, Lifecycle and Simulation at Autodesk. “Autodesk Fusion 360 will give designers and engineers the first powerful, easy-to-use and complete cloud-based design solution.”
Autodesk Fusion 360 leverages the Autodesk 360 cloud-based platform and adds to Autodesk ’s cloud portfolio for manufacturers, which includes Autodesk PLM 360, a cloud-based product lifecycle management offering, and Autodesk Simulation 360, a comprehensive set of simulation tools delivered securely in the cloud.
3D Industrial and Mechanical Design in the Cloud
A comprehensive product design tool geared toward small business professionals, Autodesk Fusion 360 capabilities span all aspects of industrial and mechanical design, melded with anytime, anywhere access to data, collaborative and social development capabilities the cloud has to offer. Autodesk Fusion 360 also connects to advanced capabilities such as large scale mockup, simulation, PLM and rendering.
Next Generation User Experience
Autodesk Fusion 360 offers a radically different user experience through an intuitive interface that conforms to the role and level of user expertise. Autodesk Fusion 360 provides built-in guidance to novice users to speed the learning curve, and the ability to turn off guidance and access deeper functionality for design experts. Regardless of their level of expertise, users can start designing in a matter of minutes and begin to leverage Autodesk Fusion 360 ’s integrated social collaboration tools.
Redpoint Studios, a New England based industrial design and product engineering consultancy, recently adopted Autodesk Fusion 360 to help their clients bring compelling new products to market faster. “The learning curve is phenomenal. In a matter of days I was modeling blends and transitions that would take months, if not years, of skill building to achieve in a NURBS modeler, ” said Matthew Harris, Industrial Designer, Redpoint Studios, LLC. “The potential for this product is huge and I can ’t wait to see what ’s next. ”;
Autodesk Fusion 360 will be available on a term basis making it affordable to businesses of all sizes. This delivery model will provide maximum flexibility and eliminate the high upfront costs of software license purchases, as well as the annual expense of software updates and upgrades. It is an ideal fit for professionals and small businesses seeking flexibility to scale their product design tools to fit changing project needs.
Autodesk Fusion 360 is expected to be generally available next year. For more information and a chance to experience Autodesk Fusion 360, visit www.autodesk.com/fusion360.
Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor
Although I couldn’t attend Autodesk University this year, it didn’t stop me from briefly speaking with Keith Perrin, Autodesk Senior Industry Manager about Autodesk’s Fusion 360 the day before the official announcement at AU. I actually spoke with him on an Amtrak train between Chicago and Detroit while passing by the steel mills in Gary, Indiana. Somewhat fitting.
What was Project Forge when I spoke with Perrin the day before the announcement became Autodesk Fusion 360 the next day at AU.
I had been wondering about what plans Autodesk had for T-Splines after acquiring it, and the answer came in the form of Fusion 360. Also in the mix is Autodesk’s direct modeling technology, Fusion. It seems that Fusion 360 is intended to appeal to users who may or may not have other CAD experience. It combines capabilities for conceptual design for the industrial designer, as well as design refinement capabilities for the design engineer.
Fusion 360 is an extension into CAD of some other cloud-based technologies that Autodesk already offers for simulation and PLM. Perrin said that Fusion 360 is an example of another one of the jigsaw pieces coming together for Autodesk’s Digital Prototyping initiative in the cloud.
With functions coming from both T-Splines and Fusion, Autodesk Fusion 360 will offer a hybrid modeling approach with explicit, direct, and parametric modeling capabilities.
The UI sounds interesting as Perrin said it would be gesture based with relatively few buttons and pulldowns. He also said that the UI would lend to Fusion 360’s discoverable approach with no formal training required. The “training” is embedded in the application and provides self-paced guidance. Exactly what this is remains to be seen, but sounds like an interesting approach.
Because Fusion 360 is intended to work in mixed CAD environments, interoperability was a big deal and got a lot of attention during development. Built-in translators residing in the cloud will provide for import and export of design data in most major formats.
Fusion 360 is due out as a marketable application in early 2013. Going forward Fusion 360, because of its cloud/online nature, will be frequently updated throughout the year, and not restricted and subject to Autodesk’s annual major release cycle.
For now, Fusion 360 is being developed for and will initially be available for PC and Mac desktop platforms, but should be available for iOS, Android, and Windows tablets down the road. Ultimately, this will provide for design and collaboration capabilities on both desktop and mobile platforms.
When asked about pricing, Perrin said that it would be “aggressive,” but had yet to be determined.
Although I’m not totally sold on the cloud concept for design work, Autodesk Fusion 360 might be a game changer as it combines various aspects of conceptual design and design refinement. I’m anxious to sign up for a trial and experience what design in the cloud is all about.
The Week’s Top Stories
At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the news items that were the most viewed during last week.
Geomagic announced Geomagic Spark, the newest addition to the company’s line of 3D scan, design and inspection applications According to the company, Geomagic Spark is the only 3D software that combines a live 3D scanning interface, robust 3D point and mesh editing capabilities, comprehensive modeling design, assembly modeling, and 2D drawing creation in one complete application. While traditional CAD packages have modeling capabilities, they lack the tools to process 3D scan data into usable 3D. Geomagic Spark, however, incorporates 3D scan data functionality, integrating Geomagic’s advanced scanning technology, 15 years in the making, with the direct modeling capabilities of the SpaceClaimplatform. Now, users can create accurate, manufacturable solid models and assemblies using combined scan and CAD data in the same application, even with partial scan data.
OPEN MIND, developer of hyperMILL, software for programming CNC machine tools, and CGTech, developer of VERICUT software for simulating CNC machine tools, announced today a renewed agreement between their two companies. As part of this relationship, the two companies work closely to provide integration between their products and customer support. CGTech and OPEN MIND have already worked together to create an interface between hyperMILL and VERICUT. The interface, which continues to be enhanced, is designed to help their mutual customers create a better machining process by providing an easy way to verify hyperMILL’s post-processed machining paths in VERICUT.
Additive manufacturing and machining are usually regarded as competing processes. However, the two technologies are being combined in a project at the French research centre PEP, where Delcam’s PowerSHAPE CAD software and PowerMILL CAM system are being used to finish machine parts created by laser sintering. PEP is the main technical centre for innovation in the French plastics industry, specializing in the injection molding of thermoplastics. The main areas of expertise of PEP’s researchers and engineers include design and simulation of parts and processes, injection molding processes and tooling, and plastics materials.The Delcam software was first chosen by PEP for PLATINNO, a technological innovation platform for tooling undertaken in association with CETIM, France’s main research centre for mechanical engineering. The aim of the project is to provide support – technical, human resources and financial – for companies working in the French plastics sector. With support from CETIM, which has undertaken research into high-speed machining for many years, PEP was introduced to all the main CADCAM vendors to assess their systems. The organisation particularly liked the Delcam software, not least because the company could meet all of its needs. It acquired PowerSHAPE, PowerMILL, PowerINSPECT and ArtCAM.
Aras announced the launch of a new solution designed specifically for companies that run Autodesk Vault with Inventor and AutoCAD. Aras VPLMTM for Autodesk Vault provides packaged functionality out-of-the-box for corporate-wide PLM business processes, enabling global companies that run Autodesk software to improve product quality, accelerate time to market and achieve greater profitability.Built on top of Autodesk Vault Professional, Aras VPLM extends the capabilities of Autodesk Vault to drive PLM processes throughout a company and its supply chain for collaboration across organizations including product development, operations, quality, purchasing, sales & marketing and other groups worldwide. Scalable and secure, Aras VPLM is a business-ready solution for New Product Development and Introduction (NPDI), Complex Configuration Management, Enterprise Change Management, Outsourced Manufacturing, Quality Compliance and more.
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