Autodesk Adds Powerhouse Manufacturing Tools to Fusion 360
Chris Fox posted on October 13, 2020 |
Delcam’s PowerMill, PowerShape and PowerInspect will be 'in the box' with Fusion 360.
PowerMill is now bundled with Fusion 360. (Picture courtesy of Autodesk.)
PowerMill is now bundled with Fusion 360. (Picture courtesy of Autodesk.)

Autodesk announced during its recent Advanced Manufacturing Summit that some of its powerhouse manufacturing tools would be added to Fusion 360, including PowerMill, PowerShape and PowerInspect.

Back in 2014, Autodesk acquired Delcam and its suite of manufacturing products. While PowerMill, PowerShape and PowerInspect have been available through Autodesk since then, the solutions have all been living in their own ecosystems. 

By wrapping these software products into Fusion 360, Autodesk is aiming to continue its push to make Fusion a hub for everything from design to manufacturing. Many Delcam product customers have long been concerned about when the software products might be incorporated into Fusion 360. These customers have been worried about functionality or license changes caused by the solutions’ incorporation into a different product.

According to Autodesk, putting PowerMill, PowerShape and PowerInspect under the Fusion 360 umbrella will provide a seamless interface between the products, as well as deliver the capabilities at a lower price point.

“In most cases subscribers will receive access to a broader range of functionality at a lower price,” noted Autodesk . The presentations from Autodesk assured that current subscribers to PowerMill, PowerShape and PowerInspect would not see a difference in the performance of the software, but would rather experience integration into the world of Fusion 360.

In the announcement blog, Autodesk said, “Come September 14, if you are an existing PowerMill, PowerShape, and/or PowerInspect subscriber, your account will update to one of four new offerings specifically geared toward your needs. The four new subscriptions include Fusion 360 with PowerMill Standard, Fusion 360 with PowerMill Ultimate, Fusion 360 with PowerShape, and Fusion 360 with PowerInspect.”

New Workflows

The addition of these software products to the world of Fusion 360 means that new workflows are bound to emerge. A perfect example is the access to AnyCAD, which provides software agnostic CAD data, so you can collaborate with your colleagues who are using SOLIDWORKS and tie that back to creating CAM with PowerMill.

According to Autodesk, this means that “constraint-based sketching, intuitive 3D parametric modeling, and generative design technology will let you create parts, fixtures, and tooling for your PowerMill projects. You’ll also have access to mechanical and thermal simulation in Fusion 360 to verify designs and validate material selections prior to manufacturing, reducing the cost of prototyping.”

To that same end, you can perform simulation studies of models from PowerShape, which is a modeling companion to PowerMill that is used for molds, tools and complex parts, within Fusion 360. And Fusion will offer CAD support for PowerInspect users to perform collision checking, and so on, to produce reports for final project approval.

The addition of these products is also in keeping with Autodesk’s mantra for the Advanced Manufacturing Summit, “Manufacture Through Change.” These new capabilities and workflows will allow users to have more cross-discipline conversations within the same software platform, which makes remote work simpler (especially in times like these with COVID-19).

For Once, Things Get Cheaper

Many PowerMill, PowerShape and PowerInspect users may be immediately concerned that they are about to see a rise in their subscription prices—after all, Autodesk is adding these software products to the rest of the Fusion platform. Autodesk says that in many instances the new range of products will be available at a lower price.

As an example, according to Autodesk, “If you’re currently a PowerMill Premium user, you will upgrade to the new ‘Fusion 360 with PowerMill Ultimate’ package at no additional cost. This includes the very best technology PowerMill has to offer and (starting October 2020) even more advanced manufacturing capabilities, provided via two new Fusion 360 extensions, called ‘Fusion 360 – Machining Extension’ and ‘Fusion 360 – Additive Build Extension.’”

For PowerInspect Ultimate users, the cost will be reduced to the previous price point for PowerInspect Premium, plus you’ll have access to the rest of the Fusion 360 tools. And PowerShape Premium users will be able to use PowerShape Ultimate functionality at no additional cost.

Fusion 360 subscriptions and what they include. (Picture courtesy of Autodesk.)
Fusion 360 subscriptions and what they include. (Picture courtesy of Autodesk.)

At the end of the day, Autodesk doesn’t seem to want to force users into using a new software that they are unfamiliar with, nor does the company want to scare away current subscribers with a price increase. The hierarchy of subscriptions and what they include is a little complex but the chart from Autodesk might add clarity.

Adding these software products seems to be part of Autodesk’s long-standing vision of catalyzing seamless collaboration from design to production. According to Autodesk, “This single platform then makes it easy to experiment with transformational new tools for design automation, such as the generative design extension we recently announced.”

Future-Proofing

While the term future-proofing might be a cliche marketing term, there is still value in striving toward being future-ready.

Autodesk appears to be looking to close the gap between engineering and manufacturing, and it seems to be working. Design for manufacturability is an idea that when put into practice can save both entrepreneurs and large corporations lots of time and money. 

A part designed with manufacturing in mind means that a product is closer to production at the outset of physical prototyping. More advanced manufacturing tools and techniques mean that a designer’s vision is easier to realize. And the combination of these efforts means that the two sides need a method of communication between their platforms. 

Fusion 360 is striving to be that platform and Autodesk continues to add more manufacturing tools to its array of capabilities. 

According to Autodesk, it wants to create a “seamless collaboration between designers and engineers, improving manufacturers’ ability to connect workflows, automate processes, and network with supply chains. By uniting technologies under the power of a single platform, Fusion 360 enables a cohesive experience across design, engineering, and manufacturing with data at the center.”

Stephen Hooper, vice president and general manager of Fusion 360, said, “Designers and engineers who use Fusion 360 already have the industry’s most capable cloud-based manufacturing platform available at their fingertips. With this change to how we provide access to Autodesk’s advanced manufacturing specialty software, we’re raising that bar, enabling teams to include, and in some cases explore for the first time, even more modern capabilities in their workflows.”

Autodesk has spent a lot of time and money buying up smaller manufacturing companies and adding their power to its Fusion360 platform. While they purchased Delcam back in 2014, PowerMill, PowerShape and PowerInspect hadn’t been fully integrated into the Fusion 360 platform until September 2020. For most Fusion subscribers, this change provides powerful manufacturing tools at a lower price. That could mean more adoption for both sides of the product design process as Autodesk pushes toward the future.

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