Imagine that you got to completely re-design your CAD system from scratch? What form of 3D modelling would you choose? Parametric or Direct? Solids or surfaces? Top down or Bottom up?
I’m guessing that you wouldn’t choose any of these, you just want to complete your work using which ever method is best at the time!
The lucky team at Autodesk who have been designing Fusion 360 got to ask that exact question. What do our customers want from a 3D CAD tool?
And they came to the same conclusion as us – we don’t want our CAD tool to limit our creativity or productivity. We just want it to work!
F360 Direct modelling
Fusion 360 supports direct modelling, both in history based and non-history based modes.
History free direct modelling
In ‘History Free’ mode, no design history (Design Intent) is captured. History free direct modelling is great when working with single CAD files from other CAD systems. Simple edits can be made by pushing and pulling or deleting faces. Ideal for preparing files for CAM or Simulation.
this kind of modelling is also ideal for iterating through concept designs when the final solution for the component isn’t known. All too often, Parametric modelling can be restrictive on creative thinking.
History captured direct modelling
In History mode, direct edits are added to the design history and captured as part of the parametric design process. Fusion 360’s innovate method of capturing the design history of the component separately to the 3D model features allows us to import CAD files from other vendors and make parametric changes, without having the native feature history of the original 3D CAD model.
This allows you to take advantage the power of parametric modelling, without having to re-build every library or suppliers component you need inside Fusion 360.
F360 T-Splines, direct and parametric
Even the most complex organic shapes can be quickly iterated using Fusion 360’s T-Splines modelling tools. T-Splines are a powerful take on subdivision modelling (The modelling method used in programs such as 3D Studio Max and Blender).
The advantage of T-Splines over traditional subdivision modelling is that a T-Splines model can have addition detail (more faces) just where we need it, rather than having to subdivide the whole surface mesh.T-Splines are a direct modelling tool. Vertices, Edges and faces are pushed and pulled to create the organic shape we need. This is an excellent way to iterated through complex shape design without having to resort to complex surface modelling techniques.
Fusion 360 very cleverly allows us T-Spline surfaces as part of a parametric model by keeping the model history separate from the features of the part. This allows us to build a T-Splines surface at the start of a model, and then roll the design history back at any time to update the T-Splines surface, and update the new design for the component.
Autodesk Fusion 360 contains a complete toolset for both Solid and Surface modelling.
F360 Solid Modelling
To clarify the difference, solid modelling is the feature-by-feature method of creating 3D CAD models that many of us are familiar with from Inventor, Solidworks or Pro-E. Features are parametric and based on sketches, which control the feature’s size and location - like Lofts and Sweeps. Secondary features such as Fillets and Holes can also be captured in the design history of the component.
Solid models can have material information added to allow us to compute additional information such as a products weight. Solid models are used for FEA and simulation.
F360 Surface Modelling
Surface modelling is used primarily in product and industrial design to create organic, but accurate surfaces.
The Surface modelling technique is a highly disciplined but powerful method of building each surface of our model as a separate face, before stitching the surfaces together to form a solid model.
Fusion 360 supports Surface modelling by allowing T-Splines for quick iteration of complex surfaces, the surface modelling environment for building accurate parametric surfaces, and the import of mesh data for basing surface models on physical prototypes.
If you used a manufacturing CAD package before, you’ll be familiar with the term ‘Bottom up design’.
Bottom up design
Most MFG 3D CAD packages encourage us to build each part of our design as a separate model, before combining the part models into sub-assembly and assembly models.
This is known as the ‘Bottom up’ technique, and its idea for supporting the design of systems where the detail of the part models is already known.
Top down design
But what if we don’t know the detail of the components yet? If we want to work on the entire design, and build the detail into the components as we go – we are using the ‘Top down’ design technique.
In most CAD packages, creating cross part relationships at the assembly level is ‘Challenging’ – it rarely leads us to stable parametric models.
Fusion 360 turns this on its head by supporting us with a single modelling environment, where we can layout, model and detail our design, only breaking our design into separate components when it makes sense to us to do so.
How do library components figure into this?
I know that you won’t want to model every component for every design. You will have a library of products that you regularly use on your projects, and you will only want to create a 3D CAD model for each of them once.
All files required to support your Fusion 360 design are uploaded to your A360/Fusion 360 Team, cloud based document management account.
Any file you have uploaded can be inserted into your current Fusion 360 design. These components are ‘linked’, meaning that a change to the component definition will update every instance of the component through your Fusion 360 Project. You can read more about Fusion 360 Document Management here.
Fusion 360 from Concept to Component
Autodesk have designed Fusion 360 with you and your CAD design needs in mind.
To learn more, go to our Fusion 360 Review page. Additionally, you can learn more about this product in one of our Fusion 360 Training courses. To request a quote or organise a demonstration, please get in touch with us through the link below: