Design in Manufacturing - Fusion 360 and the Art of Design Collaboration, from concept to completion

Accessing data and models from any location is dependent on working in the cloud. It’s the new norm, so much discussed when Covid raged. Enter Fusion 360, not a response to yesterday’s limitations, but the facilitator of true design collaboration for today’s manufacturers.

Everyone working together in perfect harmony
I’m an extreme fan of how Autodesk’s Fusion 360 brings entire multi-discipline specialists together to interact, with a shared view of what’s happening in a product design as it evolves. You may already have been using Fusion 360 for some time, or you may be unaware of the benefits it can bring to design development. Either way, I’m sharing my enthusiasm in this blog to either confirm what you have already discovered or introduce you to another dimension in manufacturing design, literally.

The product development process can be long and drawn out. Each specialist has a contribution to make, essential additions and changes to the original concept, from how it looks, to how it will ultimately work.

The project owners, internal customers or external clients also have a view. There are occasions when this viewpoint can send the entire project back to the beginning, or at least to a stage where those involved in creating it believed they might have been approaching the finish line.

To move forward, avoid back-tracking
When the requirement comes to think again, that’s where additional time accrues to the project. It’s also where unanticipated costs may be incurred. The initial control you thought you had as a team and the initial vision that seemed so easy to realise start to dissipate. It can be at this point that frustration sets in, and questions are asked such as: “Why couldn’t they have mentioned that earlier?”

It’s this ‘earlier mention’ that Fusion 360 brings into the project by ensuring that every involved party shares the same view of the model as it evolves and, hence, the same vision of where it’s headed. In this way, it eradicates delays. One of the prime ways it does this is by being based in the cloud, meaning that whoever needs to access and work on the model can do so whenever they need to, confident that they are working on the latest version. They can do this from their mobile device, from any location. The actions, participation, and collaboration can flow continuously. Timelines are kept to; budgets are met, and errors are reduced.

Transform your workflows
Fundamentally, Fusion 360 integrates CAD, CAM, CAE, and PCB software. The tools in place also integrate how specialists work together and enhance how effectively and productively they can do so.

Mechanical, manufacturing, electronics, and engineering are used to make their design input in what you could describe as ‘splendid isolation’. They worked apart, even though they may have been working on the same premises. This was, and, for some, still is, the silo syndrome.

In a digitally connected world, the silo increasingly has no logical place. The workflows it dictates are almost analogue. As each of the specialists in a design downloads the model and adds their contribution, a potential problem lurks. They need to verify that they have the correct version, the latest, and, to do that, they need to be sure about who in the team believes they can confidently state that they have it. There is often every possibility that somebody else came in and made another change after the last saved it.

The problem lurking when various models may have been scattered far and wide starts to grow because there may be confusion somewhere down the line. Someone could open the model unaware of previous changes. Due to potential model duplication, the audit trail becomes tangled, yet it will still need to be sorted out later down the line.

Collaboration at a glance | The top 3 benefits of Fusion 360

  • Equal smartness across the team
    When looking at the collaboration benefit of Fusion 360, many of the customers I work with find this aspect, the shared and connected, unified, and automatically creating its own robust audit trail, not far short of transformative. It changes how they work for the better. They become more informed, more aware, and more productive. They all share the same level of insight simultaneously, and equal smartness prevails across the whole team.

    Whereas, traditionally, for each of the specialists to embark on their own evaluation of the model, they had to open their own version; now, they all open the same version.

  • Clarity and confidence
    So, imagine that you open what you are reassured by Fusion 360 is the current version; how can you be 100% sure? The answer is that you’re told it is. You are warned if any changes have been made. You are also warned if anybody else happens to be working on the federated model at the same time.

    Through comment and mark-up options, the whole team can deliver clarity to the entire team. Fusion 360 also offers a chat function so you can make and respond to queries in real-time.

  • Transparency
    Fusion 360 facilitates involvement in everything that may impact your role in the product design; from concept to design, engineering, electrical, and manufacturing, this is an end-to-end process housed within a global environment.

    From the management and/or client perspective, you can also share progress whenever you feel the time is right. It’s simple via Fusion 360’s Free Viewer, which enables decision-makers to see progress as it unfolds. They now can mention earlier whatever may previously have come late enough to trigger avoidable re-work.

Go faster
If you have access to the Autodesk Product Design & Manufacturing Collection (PD&MC), then you already have Fusion 360. It’s sitting there alongside Inventor and a comprehensive range of associated solutions waiting for you to explore how far you can go and how much faster you can go with Fusion 360’s cloud-based capabilities. I’m betting you’ll become a fan too.

If you want to bring Fusion 360 into your design processes, take advantage of software you may already have invested in or take it to the next level by getting in touch with Symetri. 

Written by Cheryl Sneddon

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What is Fusion 360 – Manage Extension?

10 February 2022

Autodesk introduced the Fusion 360 – Manage Extension early in 2021. This addition to the Fusion 360 extensions is not to be confused with Autodesk’s Fusion 360 Manage PLM offering, although the platform is still driven by Autodesk Forge it is not linked to the use of the Fusion 360 Manage (PLM) tenant.