Autodesk announces Pricing for Fusion 360 in the Cloud
John Hayes posted on April 16, 2013 |
You can still get in on the Beta of this 3D modeling tool now

We’ve been wondering how Autodesk’s cloud-based modeling solution, Fusion 360, was going to be priced.  If it comes with unlimited access, engineers could start dreaming of processing huge assemblies at rocket speed using the near-limitless capacity of the cloud. 

But if that’s a benefit of cloud-based design, would a per-user or a usage-based model make more sense?

Carl Bass answered that question at the Develop 3D Live event in Coventry England this morning.  He said, “Pricing for the new offerings will range from $25 to $200 per user/per month.”

That’s pretty interesting, because it means users can involve a wide range of people in the design process who otherwise might not have access to the models.  For example, suppliers and customers, marketing people and consultants all might need limited access to the designs.  If their access fees are priced at the lower end of the range, their input could suddenly be affordable.  

For those of you who aren’t up to speed on what Autodesk has been doing to bring cloud functionality to design software, Fusion 360 is the modeling environment that integrates with Autodesk’s other cloud-based tools Simulation 360 and PLM 360

You can see more background on the feature set of Fusion 360 in this article by Chad Jackson or after the pricing discussion below.  

And so back to pricing.  PLM 360 is priced on a per-user basis at $25-$75 per month.  That makes sense for the types of PDM and Project Management functions that it handles.  Meanwhile, Sim 360 is priced on usage – ie the number of jobs you upload.  Again, that makes sense given the cost side of the equation, but can pose some problems for budgeting. 

Frankly, I’m a bit surprised that Fusion 360 is going to be priced on a per user basis given the potential cost side of providing cloud solutions.  Maybe the marketing team at Autodesk has calculated that declining costs of data transmission, processing and storage in the cloud will make this pricing work. 

You can get in on the Beta for Fusion 360 at this link.  And here are links to the free trials for PLM 360 and Sim 360

So what does Fusion 360 do?  I asked Richard Blatcher, Industry Manager for the Manufacturing Industry Group at Autodesk.  He said that Fusion 360 is a “thin-client modeling environment that connects to the cloud where the model is uploaded and stored.  That brings all the cloud benefits of easy sharing, access from anywhere, and automated version tracking.”  You can see Autodesk’s feature summary in the video below:

Richard emphasized that all of this technology is available in the cloud now rather than awaiting the full official release presumably sometime this summer.  Autodesk has a big lead in cloud-based design as evidenced by the more than 3,000 users on the Fusion 360 Beta program already.  No doubt there are debates going on within these design teams about the benefits of collaboration that come from easy model sharing as compared to the need to protect intellectual property. 

The primary modeling features of Fusion 360 are for sculpting and forming, so you might think it’s more suited to early stage design rather than documentation for manufacturing.  However, the Autodesk development team is working on adding more parametric driven change features.  Once they do, the power of the cloud will bring that update automatically to all the users. 

To get a model into Fusion 360 you can either create it natively or you can import virtually any CAD file with a cool drag and drop feature.  From there, the environment presents a project-based environment that tracks comments, design versions and parts relationships.

If you are thinking of a cloud-based collaborative modeling environment, Fusion 360 is pretty much the only game in town.  And since it’s in Beta at no charge now, it’s definitely worth a look.  

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