Design in Manufacturing - Autodesk Fusion 360 and Autodesk Inventor Complementary benefits | Combined design excellence

Many companies look upon Autodesk Fusion 360 and Autodesk Inventor as mutually exclusive solutions; alternatives for different uses. They consider the former as a ‘go-to’ tool at the design concept stage, and the latter for the heavy-lifting once you know broadly where the design is heading. Think again.

Seamless model perfection
The first point in considering Fusion 360 and Inventor as a dynamic duo is that they connect. I’m sure this will be news to some people. Because companies tend to decide in advance which solution is appropriate for their project, so they stick with it. It’s human nature. If it works for you, why waste time looking for an alternative?

The purpose of this blog is to dispel the commonly believed ‘myth’ that whichever your preference is, it’s rational if you believe the two solutions have little to do with each other. As a side-note to this approach, I occasionally find in customer conversations that users of the Autodesk Product Design & Manufacturing Collection (PD&MC) aren’t aware that they have both products included in the collection. Through familiarity with and loyalty to one, they’ve had no need to investigate the other. It’s really worth taking a look at that to discover their combined benefits.

It’s easy to take a look to check out the points I’m making in this blog. I’m sure that once you do, you’ll find it worthwhile to think again about whether being exclusive in your choice is an approach you might be able to improve upon. The benefits of being inclusive will quickly become apparent.  I summarise them as ‘seamless model perfection’ because the days of separating simulation from the design process are over. That’s where time can be saved; starting by acknowledging the connection between Fusion 360 and Inventor. Many of you will remember a time when Fusion 360 did not exist less than a decade ago. How was it then?

In the beginning…

Inventor I The CAD tool of choice?
For years, Inventor has been very much the tool of choice for product designers and engineers. It had all the functionality you’d need for CAD, CAM, CAE, and PCB. It was a global environment where you could get involved in pretty much anything you needed to; 3D mechanical design, simulation, automated design workflows and repetitive tasks to get everything done quicker. In terms of simulation, it has a very specific set of tools, primarily static analysis, model analysis, and shape generator.

In the future…

Fusion 360 | Aesthetics, form, fit, and function
Fusion 360 is the new kid on the block, having come to market in mid-2013, at which point Inventor had been around for almost 15 years. Fusion 360’s function is widely regarded as more of a conceptual tool than Inventor, taking models and ‘organically’ shaping them with the use of AI.

Fusion 360 has very few, if any, equals in terms of its generative design capabilities. Once you set your parameters, front-loading the design environment with the factors/limitations you know about (materials, costs, manufacturing methods and so on), it can produce thousands of variants. It almost redefines productivity.  

You may get a bit confused once you try searching on the internet for how the two solutions work together. There are articles and posts everywhere comparing the two, trading them against each other to see which is ‘best’. Save yourself the bother of all that Googling.

I’m here to tell you that using the two in a complementary fashion is best. They do not mutually exclude each other; they complement each other. When it comes to simulation, Fusion 360 offers a wide selection of tools. The great thing about this is that when you encounter problems in a model in Inventor, you can import the model to Fusion 360 and use the simulation tools to explore exactly where the problems lie.

The right tool for the job
It’s all about knowing which to use for what purpose. A note on switching between them is not integrated; using them for specific and differing purposes is not about a desktop-connected workflow. You do have to exit one and open the other one. This is not a deal-breaker since it takes next to no time.

The potential you can open up by embracing both tools is enormous. Here’s how, used together, they enable you to create the bigger picture while seeing and heeding the smallest detail.

The product purpose
In heavy industries involved in large-scale operations, such as oil and gas, the models involved at the design stage are correspondingly large-scale.  The same applies to the automotive sector and manufacturing in general, organisations that make their own tools. Inventor provides “parametric, direct, freeform, and rules-based design capabilities and offers Model-Based Definition capabilities for embedding information directly in the 3D model”.

Then, for form and function, look and feel, Fusion 360 allows you to pin down the detail through simulation tools for analysing static stress, thermal stress and dynamic events. That’s not all; you can analyse modal frequencies, structural buckling, shapes, injection molding and non-linear static stress. It’s not an exhaustive list.

Find great design potential
Using Inventor and Fusion 360 in harmony helps you create a better model where nothing has been overlooked. The approach will enable you to reveal the greater potential in your design than you may have even known existed.

If you want to bring out the best of Fusion 360 and Inventor together and optimise software you may already have invested in (PD&MC) or take it to the next level, please contact us.

Written by Cheryl Sneddon

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What is Fusion 360 – Manage Extension?

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