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Fusion 360 or Sketchup- Which is best?

#240161 by sehast » Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:27 pm

As promised in an earlier post here is my review of Fusion 360. Just for background I have been a Sketchup user for about 10 years and frequently use it for visualizing a woodworking project design before I start to build it. An example of this is a lumber cutoff cart I built earlier this year from a couple of sheets of plywood. I got the overall idea and plans from the Woodsmith library but I wanted to build it longer by 12” and use aluminum bars instead of the conduit pipe in their design.
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I drew each plywood piece in Sketchup and assembled it to see if everything would fit.
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I also could take each piece and lay it out on a 8’x4’ box in sketchup to determine the best way to cut it out. There is even a plugin that can generate a cutlist if you want.
Like Sketchup, Fusion 360 is free as long as users don’t use it in a business that makes more than $100K/year. Unlike Sketchup, Fusion is partially cloud based that requires an internet connection at least once every two weeks. It automatically backs up your files and does some complex operations like rendering on their servers instead of your home computer. I have never used those kind of operations and don’t feel most of us will but it is there if needed. Fusion was primarily built to support full scale mechanical design like a motorcycle or treadmill showing every last part in its model. I have found that it works fine for woodworking but not optimized for it. It is much more structured and enforces discipline in its use. It is parametric based which allows your model to automatically adapt to a change in one of the defined parameters. In my cutoff cut cart example I would define parameters upfront like length, width, height and plywood thickness and define all of my pieces with them. Instead of defining the sides to be a hard dimension I would define as the width times 0.75 or width minus 6”. That way when I change the width everything in the model will automatically adjust. Very powerful. I found that you have much more control in each of the steps required to make, modify and join 3d objects or components. Rather than try to explain all the great aspects of Fusion I think it is better that if you have interest to watch a few videos. There are hundreds of videos on YouTube regarding Fusion 360 but few are focused on woodworking. I have picked out the most relevant ones here. The first three provide an easy to understand overview with a woodworking example.
This one shows not only the CAD capabilities of Fusion but also the integrated CAM capabilities for CNC routers.
If you still have interest these are the best for more structured learning of Fusion for beginners.

And finally this is a great series that shows the modelling of a dovetailed drawer. ... xR5iw3KWlQ ... W6Sg2bCTGc
I have found Fusion 360 to be no harder to learn than Sketchup but it will look more intimidating because it has so many more features. Many of those you will never have to use but make it look more complex than it is. Some things carry over from Sketchup but most don’t. So no sugar coating, there will be a learning curve but I have found that it is more than worth it. I can create models much quicker, with more control and confidence than I ever had in Sketchup. It will be a personal decision if you want to invest the time to learn Fusion 360 but if you don’t already know Sketchup and want to start using a CAD program Fusion is a no brainer in my opinion. I know I will never go back to Sketchup.

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Re: Fusion 360 or Sketchup- Which is best?

#240168 by Hobbyman2 » Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:30 pm

I just down loaded one called openscad , havent tried to use it yet .


Hobbyman2 Favorite Quote: "If a man does his best, what else is there?"
- General George S. Patton (1885-1945)

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Re: Fusion 360 or Sketchup- Which is best?

#240170 by BuckeyeDennis » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:09 pm

Many thanks for the review, Sehast. After watching mechanical-engineer colleagues at work do parametric modelling in SolidWorks over the years, I never could get comfortable with Sketchup. So I’ve just been limping along, doing 2D stuff in Visio. You just convinced me that Fusion is the path forward for me.

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Re: Fusion 360 or Sketchup- Which is best?

#240171 by heathicus » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:56 pm

I got into 3D printing pretty heavy the last couple years and when I started making my own models, I started with Sketchup as I was pretty familiar with it. But I learned quickly that Sketchup just doesn't work well for that. I get Autodesk Inventor for free with my .edu email address (I work at a university). It's very similar to Fusion 360 (in fact, you could say that Fusion 360 is a scaled down, cloud based version of Inventor). I use both for different purposes. I use Sketchup more for quick visualizations, but Inventor for models that will actually be printed. Or, just depending on what I'm making and what approach I want to take to it, I'll pick the software that is more appropriate. So I think it's a good thing to be familiar with both. I'd like to add a "sculpting" type modeling program to my skill set as well.


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-10ER - SN 13927, Born 1949, Acquired October 2008, Restored November, 2008
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