How do you collaborate on your 3D CAD models?
Back in the good ‘ol days collaboration was easy. The design office was a sea of drawing boards. Anyone wanting to see progress on a project could simply walk up and down the design office, peeking over the drafter’s shoulders.
But, with the advantages of CAD there are some limitations. The computer becomes a black box. We have lost the ability to gain the 1000ft overview of our designs in progress.
So – How do you collaborate on your 3D CAD models?
Do you hook up your CAD station to the big screen in the company boardroom for design review? Do use free CAD file viewers, or publish to a neutral format for non CAD users to review? Do you forget about the 3D CAD model entirely and publish drawings to review instead? However you do it - don’t tell me that it’s easy or seamless!
Surprisingly, many of you tell us that you still use drawings (Paper and electronic) as in integral part of the design review process. You tell us that this is because you need to maintain an audit trail. The comments, mark-ups and notes added to the drawing can be recorded and stored should you need to go back and review the history of the decision making process.
But is there an easier way?
Imaging that you could design your own CAD document management tool right from the ground up. What would you keep from your current CAD PDM system? What would you like to take from other CAD PDM systems? What problems would you like to solve that you couldn’t solve before?
The lucky people on the Fusion 360 team got to ask this exact question. One of the problems that they were keen to tackle is the issue of collaboration on 3D CAD designs. Head over to our Fusion 360 review page to learn more.
The trouble with storing your files on the server (‘on the system’) is that it’s not very systematic! People can store files wherever they want, call them what they want and move the files around Willy-nilly.
This leads to a lack of trust in the system. How often do you need to speak to the person that saved the file to ask what they called it and where they saved it to be certain that you’ve got the correct version?
Fusion 360’s integrated cloud data management
Fusion 360 stores all of your documents in the cloud. It does this seamlessly – you don’t need to do anything special. It’s as easy as using Dropbox or Google drive.
Are you worried about the security of CAD in the cloud? Click here to read Autodesk’s cloud security white paper.
All revisions are tracked on save with no checking in or checking out. You can re-name or move files and relationships in your designs won’t be broken.
You can find files by folder location or search. Once you’ve been asked to collaborate on a design you will be able to see all activity associated with the files in your alerts or via email. You don’t need to be connected to the Internet to use Fusion 360. If Fusion is not connected to the internet, it will cache your working files on your local machine.
You can choose to work in offline mode and you can export files to be backed up locally if you would like the extra reassurance. If you don’t connect to the internet for a period of two weeks, Fusion will nag you to connect to allow it to back up your files to your cloud account.
Now you have all of your data in one place, what else could you do using the power of the cloud? How about finding parts based on their shape, Mass or other physical properties? Autodesk Design Graph brings machine learning to you document management system. Watch the magic happen!
All files created or uploaded in Fusion 360 are stored in your Autodesk A360 cloud document management account. You can also access your A360 account directly through the web interface. You can sync files from your local computer to your A30 account via A360 drive.
A360 drive is a tool that sits on your computer and syncs files from your desktop to your cloud account.
A360, Fusion360, BIM360
A360 is your cloud based document storage and collaboration tool. It is free, personal to you and is accessed via your Autodesk account login.
You can create projects and folders and set view and edit permissions. A360 has its own suit of viewing, collaboration and mark-up tools. Non-CAD just need a web browser to be able to view and mark up your designs. You can even ‘Live share’ your designs with non-CAD users to review your designs in real time.
Confusingly, Autodesk have re-branded A360 as Fusion for Manufacturing Customers and BIM360 for Architecture and construction customers.
Fusion Team, BIM360 Team
Fusion Team and BIM360 are Corporate or Enterprise cloud document accounts.
In this case the account is set up and paid for by your company. Your company will appoint an administrator who will be able to set up projects and set permissions.
A360 is personal to you. Although you can share projects with your colleagues you ‘own’ the data and can chose to stop sharing or even delete the data at any time. For this reason, your free A360 account is not appropriate for corporate use. If your company is planning to implement Fusion 360, we recommend that your company also opens a Fusion 360 Team account so that your companies’ data can be owned and controlled by your company appointed administrator.
Collaboration in Fusion360 starts within the application itself. Comments can be added directly in the design. Comments are tracked by user login and are captured against the designs version history to maintain the decision making Audit trail.
Comments are instantly available via A360 to allow non-CAD users to join in the design review. A360 includes additional mark-up tool such as revision clouds and text.
Fusion 360 Live review
Fusion 360’s Live review tool allows you and your colleagues to review the same model at the same time, in real time.
Live review can be triggered from inside Fusion 360 – or through the A360 user interface. You can add additional comments during the live review session, but these aren’t added to the comment feed for the design.
So – how do you collaborate on your 3D CAD model designs? Do you think that the process could be easier?
Do you think that automated version control, embedded comment and mark up and live review would save you time and effort?
If you'd like to learn more about Fusion 360, request a quote or more information about the products mentioned in this post or to book a session of our Autodesk Certified Fusion 360 training, please get in touch through the link below: