Fusion 360 Gets a Major Update
Kyle Maxey posted on November 16, 2016 |

Fusion 360's engineers have continued their long march toward their end goal of creating an end-to-end product design package with their expansive November update. As of November 8th, Fusion users were treated to a number of new features, including simulation and milling enhancements as well as updates to drawings. In this piece, we’ll preview some of Autodesk's more interesting Fusion upgrades.

Fusion Adopts the Nastran Solver

To kick off its November update, the Fusion team has announced that Autodesk's 2014 acquisition of Nastran will now benefit 360's CAE portfolio. For users who are running simulations in the cloud, this solver upgrade won’t ever be noticed, but for those who prefer to do their simulations locally, a quick Nastran solver installation will run the first time you attempt a local study. With the addition of the Nastran, Fusion is gaining one of the best tested and consistently updated solvers on the planet.

Mesh Control with the Touch of a Slider

Building the correct mesh for a simulation is critical to achieving accurate results. So, for most CAE studies, it’s important to have a tight mesh representation of a model. The tradeoff, however, is that the finer the mesh, the more computationally expensive a study becomes.

Now, Fusion allows users to have the ability to fine-tune a specific area of a mesh, while leaving less important geometry in a lower resolution state. With this new tool, it will be possible to get high-quality simulation results in the shortest amount of time possible.

Ultimate Expands Its Simulation Study Options

The extensive aspect of this November update is undeniably the expansion of the different types of simulation that Fusion users will be able to run. The catch is that you'll have to be an Ultimate user if 
The Bolted Connection constraint dialogue.
The Bolted Connection constraint dialogue.
you want to tap into this new potential.

First up is the new “Bolted Connection” feature. With this new simulation constraint, users can simulate the stress that would be applied to a component if it were bolted down. By answering a few questions about where a bolt and nut will come into contact with a part, what type of preload conditions will be studied and a few other criteria, users can see how a component will behave if it's being tugged on while still stationary.

Next up, the Fusion team has made it easier to compare multiple CAE studies by providing a “Compare” workspace feature. In the past, only a single simulation result could be viewed at once. Now, once multiple results have been calculated, the Compare feature will appear in the “Workspace dropdown 

The Compare workspace feature makes evaluating simulations much easier.
The Compare workspace feature makes evaluating simulations much easier.

menu,” giving engineers the ability to see a number of studies at once.

Yikes! It doesn't look like this table is going to make it.

Yikes! It doesn't look like this table is going to make it.

Lastly, 360 can also run a buckling simulation that can determine where a component or assembly will begin to break if too much weight or force is applied to its body.

In addition to the already-mentioned simulation improvements, the Fusion team has also put together a few “preview” tools that expand the simulation palette. Fusion 360 Ultimate users will have the ability to work with an “Event Simulation” tool to diagnose the stresses that might occur during drop tests, snap-fit tests and a number of other real-world scenarios that might happen.

A “Nonlinear Static Study” preview has also been added to the Ultimate package that gives advanced CAE experts the chance to interrogate how their component's material will behave once it passes its yield strength.


Shape Optimization can radically alter a design by optimizing its strength and shape.

Shape Optimization can radically alter a design by optimizing its strength and shape.

Finally, Autodesk has added a “Shape Optimization” preview that will give users the option to simulate how a part could be “lightweighted” while still maintaining its structural integrity. For anyone working with 3D-printed production parts, this type of generative tool can be incredibly useful to push the boundaries of design.

CAM Continues to Improve

Though simulation got the lion's share of attention in this Fusion update, attention was also paid to the package's CAM workspace. Fusion's engineers have added a number of new CAM fixtures to your toolbox to make simulating your milling setup more realistic and accurate. Though there are only a few setups available at the moment, Autodesk promises that more will be coming as the months roll on.

While fixtures are nice, what would a CAM update be without the addition of new tools?

Three new tool types have been added to the CAM fold, including a tapered ball tool, a facemill tool and a threadmill. In addition, a new WSC probe has been thrown in for Ultimate users, making it possible for users to simulate the crucial process of premilling setup.

A 2D toolpath wrapped around a cylindrical face.

A 2D toolpath wrapped around a cylindrical face.

Beyond tool and fixture enhancements, Fusion’s Ultimate users will also get a few new CAM milling path features.

To begin, CAM programmers now have the option to wrap a 2D contour toolpath around a cylindrical face with the four-axis indexing and wrapping tool. So, why is this useful? Well , if you’re working on a cylindrical stock, being able to wrap a 2D toolpath around a 3D object will eliminate having to create that toolpath for each cutting instance, saving CAM techs time.

November’s CAM update also includes a five-axis milling update too. Fusion 360 now includes five-axis swarf milling that can cut chamfers with the side of a tool. This feature ensures that fewer tool changes have to be made in a milling operation, decreasing the overall time it takes to make a product.

As you can clearly see, Autodesk's engineers have been busy over the last few months. In this preview of Fusion's November update, we’ve haven't even touched on the drawing, tutorial or API updates, and even some milling and simulation features have been left out. So, if you're a Fusion user, or if the CAD package is starting to spark your interest, I suggest you head over to the Fusion blog and get a full rundown on November's newest features.


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