Fusion 360 Adds Simulation. What Can’t It Do?

Autodesk bent on a complete cloud-based solution. A plan or a reaction?

Co-author: Roopinder Tara

Simulation Comes to Fusion 360

Fusion 360 has added simulation to its cloud-based platform. This will combine CAD, CAM and CAE capabilities into one integrated workflow. As a result, Fusion 360 — true to its name — comes full circle as a multi-discipline tool.

The simulation capabilities include linear stress and modal analysis. Additionally, thermal and fatigue analysis will be included in future releases.

Unfortunately, these simulation tools are a far cry from the multiphysics standard seen in other simulation tools. However, at a mere $25/month for a platform that includes CAD, CAM and CAE, Fusion 360 will offer more than enough simulation technology for various small businesses.

The task of assigning loads, material properties and boundary conditions will all be within the familiar Fusion 360 user interface.

“Simulation traditionally takes multiple software tools and hours of work. Not so with Fusion 360,” said Kevin Schneider, director of Fusion 360 at Autodesk. “We made it powerful, but drop-dead simple.”

Bringing this level of simulation in-CAD will help for more informed decisions to be made early in the design cycle. The goal is to reduce design costs, time to market and final prototype failure. Additionally, adding CAM into the mix will help to connect all levels of the design cycle into one platform.

Schneider said, “By integrating simulation directly within the design and engineering workflow, users can not only build more viable parts with fewer iterations, but they can also develop intuition and expertise to reach validation more quickly.”

The release of Fusion 360 also promises improved collaboration tools. Multiple users will be able to review a design at once. The platform also promises improvements for commenting and project management. Users will also be able to share a link to a browser-based interactive model of a design for customer and peer review.

Click here to see more of what’s new in Fusion 360.

CAE, CAD, CAM – All on the Cloud

“We see this update as the next critical step in making Fusion 360 the most innovative integrated platform for developing products, from concept all the way to fabrication,” Schneider said.

But what does Autodesk not say? Could there be a competing application that does not cover concept to fabrication as Fusion 360 does? Is Autodesk following a planned course or answering the competition? Or both?

Clearly, Autodesk sees the cloud as the platform of the future. We have seen recent acquisitions of technology and releases of products that are either cloud components, cloud centric, or entirely cloud based.

Autodesk has been focused on the cloud for some time, though in the beginning it was cautious in declaring an emphasis — no doubt to avoid scaring its large and largely conservative user base. However, development of cloud products is at such a premium at Autodesk that the users of desktop products still complained of being ignored.

But now all that has changed since the founders of SOLIDWORKS have reunited and declared that their new product, Onshape, is entirely cloud based and the future of CAD. It is now very cool to have cloud-based CAD. As a result, the world seems to have rushed to embrace Onshape, not only the media, but also investors who seem to be falling over themselves to get into a new way of doing CAD with a total investment of $145 million. This must leave giant Autodesk just a little bit sore as it had been on the cloud all along.

In Autodesk’s eyes, the race is not to the swift growth of Onshape. Scoffing at Onshape’s advantages (no install, built for the cloud, ease of use, etc.), Autodesk seems to be bent on maximizing an advantage based on capability. In fact, the addition of CAE is as big an advantage over Onshape, as was CAM. After all, these capabilities are part of the program, not third-party programs or plug-ins. In that regard, Onshape is still taking baby steps, only recently having announced a third-party program. But in the end, only time will tell.

Written by

Shawn Wasserman

For over 10 years, Shawn Wasserman has informed, inspired and engaged the engineering community through online content. As a senior writer at WTWH media, he produces branded content to help engineers streamline their operations via new tools, technologies and software. While a senior editor at Engineering.com, Shawn wrote stories about CAE, simulation, PLM, CAD, IoT, AI and more. During his time as the blog manager at Ansys, Shawn produced content featuring stories, tips, tricks and interesting use cases for CAE technologies. Shawn holds a master’s degree in Bioengineering from the University of Guelph and an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.