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Autodesk Fusion 360 or other free software?

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Kestrel1998

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I've been using Inventor on a student license for a few years now, however will be graduating university in 2021 so this will no longer be valid.

What free or low-cost software does everyone use? Fusion 360 seems popular with model engineers and I imagine will be quite similar to Inventor. Is this my best bet going forward or is there anything else I should consider?

Sorry if this is a question that comes up a lot.

Cheers,

Calum
 

RM-MN

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I found Fusion 360 to be pretty complete but I didn't want to be harnessed to Autodesk and their changing policy regarding how the account can be used, expecting them to let me get "hooked" on their free version, then begin charging for its use. Therefor, I switched to FreeCAD. It wasn't a bad choice for me but I am not in the same age group as you and with different education.
 

JCSteam

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I've been using fusion, no background education in it. (36year old), I've found it quite intuitive, I've still loads to find out about how to use it but so far I've been happy. Not having any CNC capable machines I've not learned any of the toolpaths functions ect. It can be used as a free version and most of the features can be used. As far as I know exporting files is not available, but I need to look into it more, as it may be it needs to be in a certain completed state to be able to export.
Regards
Jon
 

Charles Lamont

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I have been using Onshape for nearly 5 years now, starting while it was still in beta. I had a look at Fusion, but I think Onshape has a cleaner and more modern user interface. Lots of help and tutorials available.

I have a complete model petrol engine model modeled in Onshape, including all the cast shapes. I am also using it to help with finalising later aspects of the design of a full size project and in some instances to model parts of it, often blacksmithing work, that were made by eye without a drawing.

You don't say what you are graduating in, but if an engineering discipline, you can even imort parts direct from Onshape into Simscale, the cloud-based FEA and CFD tool that is also free to use (within limits, obviously).
 

firebird

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Hi Calum
I was a big fan of CorelDraw (Which I owned with a serial No.) for many years. When I bought a new computer the programme would not re-install. CorelDraw then started to demand ridiculous amounts of money to "upgrade me". A quick search on the internet revealed an awful lot of people being treated the same way by CorelDraw. Also the upgraded version was not backward compatible and would not open any of my saved work!!!
I told them to shove it.
Another search led me to a programme called Inkscape. Its free and open source. I have found it to do everything I need.
Cheers

Rich
 

xpylonracer

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I am using Fusion 360 as a hobby user so at present this is free to use. I am a bit old in the tooth so taken a while to get things working as needed but now do the drawing, convert to model and then produce the G code program for the machine, either milling or turning.
There is a very good help section on the Autodesk site plus numerous How to videos on youtube.
I am more familiar with Alibre having used it for several years so sometimes do the model in Alibre and export the step file to Fusion, this is my quickest route to a cnc program for use with Mach, Linux or whatever machine control system you use.
 

Charles Lamont

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I was a big fan of CorelDraw (Which I owned with a serial No.) for many years. When I bought a new computer the programme would not re-install. CorelDraw then started to demand ridiculous amounts of money to "upgrade me". A quick search on the internet revealed an awful lot of people being treated the same way by CorelDraw. Also the upgraded version was not backward compatible and would not open any of my saved work!!!
I told them to shove it.
Another search led me to a programme called Inkscape. Its free and open source. I have found it to do everything I need.
These are just drawing programs, missing much of the valuable functionality of even simple 2D cad programs, such as the now sadly defunct Autosketch, which I am still using after 20 years.
 

mnay

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I love Autosketch and still use it at work for quick 2d stuff. We use Fusion 360 for modeling etc. I also use it for my hobby 3d printing.
Mike
 

awake

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LibreCAD for 2d and FreeCAD for 3d. Neither has all of the bells and whistles of AutoCAD/Fusion, but both are more than capable enough for my needs.
 

TSutrina

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freeCAD is trying to be a complete product. It has work benches for many different tasks from architecture, mechanical 3D a tech drawing package, finite element both fluid and stress, and a cnc package. None are as easy to use as the commercial products but I have used it for years now. Surface modeling is one area that I miss. Some exist but not robust.

It will continue to grow. cnc cookbook 2015 survey portion of the market: Soildworks 22.7%, AutoCAD 9.8%, Autodesk Inventor 8.8%, Alibre/Geomagic 8.2%, Draftsight 6.9%, fusion360 6.7%, Rhino 3D 5.3%, Google SketchUp 4.7%, Unigraphics NX 2.9%, BobCAD 2.2%, FreeCAD 2.0%, Pro/Engineering 2.0%, TurboCAD 2.0%, Ironcad 1.2%, OneCNC 1.2% CoCreate 1.0% SolidEdge 1.0% V iaCAD 1.0% I am sure things have change.
 

Monster_Robotics

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I am using Fusion 360 as a hobby user so at present this is free to use. I am a bit old in the tooth so taken a while to get things working as needed but now do the drawing, convert to model and then produce the G code program for the machine, either milling or turning.
There is a very good help section on the Autodesk site plus numerous How to videos on youtube.
I am more familiar with Alibre having used it for several years so sometimes do the model in Alibre and export the step file to Fusion, this is my quickest route to a cnc program for use with Mach, Linux or whatever machine control system you use.
Agree - Fusion 360 ‘Hobby’ edition is a good all around including the features of Manufacturing. I love everything about this version except it does not let users share files. Difficult if you’re trying to get help or collaborate with another user.
 

Chriske

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I use Autodesk Inventor, a very old one. I have a personal license from my old employer.
But that does the job for me, in fact it has a zillion times more functions on board then I'll ever need. Very powerfull..! When I was still working at school I drew and built a complete scale-model railway and Stirling Engines (even a two cylinder) with this software. As matter of fact, I ran two locs and 50 wagons as one unit on that track.
Now I draw (and build) telescopes and model rockets with it.(mostly 3D printed)
 

grahamgollar

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I find that DraftSight by Dassault Systems is the nearest freecad to AutoCad. It's comprehensive, has most of the functions needed by mechanical engineers, an extensive help file and there are many on line forums dealing with users queries and nuances of the software.
 

Kestrel1998

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Thanks guys, lots of options to consider there. I've been playing around with Fusion and liking it so far mainly due to how similar it is to Inventor. As others have said though, I wouldn't be surprised if Autodesk stopped offering the hobbyist license for free at some point, so I'll maybe try out some of the other recommendations before I commit.

Looking forward to sharing some of my future projects on here!
 

johnwm

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For a full 3D CAD package try the free version of OnShape (Free Plan | Onshape). It's comprehensive and very easy to learn and will output drawings to DXF for CNC milling/plasma as well as STL for £D printing. Only limitation is that all your work is automatically public - great for sharing stuff, but not so good for stuff you might want to sell. You need the paid version for commercial stuff.
 

Henry K

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Hi John,
Depending on your needs, you may like DoubleCAD XT by Turbocad. It is "like" Draftsight". A very good 2D drawing program that is still free, as of 9/7/2020. It generates reasonable recent versions of AutoCAD DWG files. You can share files with AutoCad and Draftsight users.
 

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