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Autodesk Fusion 360 or other free software?

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MrMetric

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It is, ultimately, a choice each of us must make. I personally am moving away from the platform for most of my stuff. Sure, I'll still keep the hobby license, and I may use it once in a while. But, by and large, I don't want to be part of the ecosystem anymore.
 

nealeb

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If a 3D CAD/CAM package like that currently being offered as the F360 hobby licence became available tomorrow and at the same price - free - how many people would hail it as a great achievement? The problem is that we had something even better and now someone has taken the toys away...

Actually, I'm pretty disappointed (to put it mildly) at the loss of rapid feed (my CNC router rapids at a modest 5m/min, but that's a whole lot faster than having it limited to, say, 200mm/min if I happen to be cutting steel), and to a lesser extent lack of tool-change support. Even though I change tools manually, having everything in a single gcode file and being prompted for tool change is a time-saver and simplifies the job. But it's still a better overall package than almost anything else available at the price.

"But we're still in the hands of a commercial organisation and they might pull the plug at any minute!" In the meantime, though, we get the benefits of a commercially-supported package. Open source is great - but just how much faith can you put in a low-volume "product" being supported indefinitely by a bunch of volunteers? There are some open-source offerings where there is enough critical mass to keep them going - like LinuxCNC - but these, I would suggest, are relatively rare. There are some great open-source offerings and I don't want to criticise them in any way and I congratulate and thank those who have developed and support them, but the guarantee of long-term support and survivability is as questionable as that of F360 "hobby mode." I am going to sorely miss G0 and M6, but for the time being at least I don't see anything better out there without paying more than I can reasonably afford for what is a hobby.
 

MrMetric

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I had never considered OnShape because you couldn't have private files, while Fusion could. However, over the last 3 weeks, I've really become to question whether I care. I mean, I truly am *not* using this for profit things. I'm literally making bits and pieces for my own fun. So, the fact that there are some files out there which probably wouldn't make any sense to someone is, well, kind of irrelevant. So, given that, I may ditch Fusion 360 entirely. I bought QCAD for my drawings that I want to keep, probably buy CamBam for some things, and do the rest of the noise on OnShape.... This may be a plan. I'd love to get away from the (proven) direction that AutoDesk is going. Sure, OnShape may go down that route (further) too, but I don't really intend to use them for a whole lot of stuff. CamBam will be my primary platform, I think. QCAD and NanoCAD 5 for 2D, and that is that. I'm like Nealab.... I think the CAM limitations of F360 are more than what I really want to use, and without export capabilities, the platform just isn't attractive anymore.

Nealab... There is open source and low cost paid. I suspect that MeshCAM (which I really do not know, so this is just a hunch) would probably do what most of us want. Hobby needs are generally pretty modest. With that, then, comes the question of how much most hobbyists use all the features of Fusion. Don't get me wrong. I *love* Fusion. It breaks my heart to be moving away from it. I just think that most of us could do very well with low/free alternatives, and, more importantly, ones that will *remain* low and free (or, at the very least, things you *own, not lease*). I wouldn't trust F360 posts without validation, the same way I wouldn't trust any other vendors, so I'm fine with using something that isn't as polished as F360
 
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xpylonracer

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Mr Metric

You will still be able to export stp and other file types from Fusion 360, see the video from Lars and the chief posted earlier.
 

MrMetric

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Thank you pylon. I know there was confusion on that point. I think AutoDesk probably back pedaled on that, which is good. However, I'm still not getting warm fuzzy feelings about any of this. What the heck... I am not against seeing how OnShape works. I think it is worth a try. I suspect there is a great chance that it will remain free (because it is, in many way, more restrictive than Fusion) than there is that AutoDesk won't continue to shift the foundation. I really think in a few years they'll just curtail more. I have a LONG LONG LONG history with AutoDesk. I owned AutoCAD way back in the days when it was running on a CP/M computer
 

kinggt4

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MrMetric,

Just looked for OnShape and Sourceforge says there is a free version but I can't find anything about it except $2100 for professional.
 

kinggt4

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John,

Thank you for this tip. I signed up and began the tutorials.

George
 

bikr7549

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I've been using Onshape for awhile and the public aspect of my files has not been an issue in anyway for me. Other users can copy but not modify your files, and by doing a search on a particular item I've been able to find a number of pre-existing files that have saved me some real headaches.
Another benefit is that I can log onto my account from anywhere and I have access to everything-this came in handy a few times while travelling, when we used to be able to do that sort of thing. If I had something proprietary to work on that is something else, but if doing that it would likely be for a business, in which case the company would buy a pro version of Onshape an the files would be private.
 

MrMetric

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bikr. That is exactly the point. Now, I have to admit that I don't know that I like having my modeled parts out there in the world, but I am trying to do some introspection here. I have a feeling that there really isn't a solid reason for this, frankly. So what if someone gets an adapter plate for an indexer head. In fact.... Great! I'm happy to share.

So... Yeah, I think that OnShape may very well be a platform I can get behind. Besides, I kind of like the idea of giving some competition to AutoDesk. I'll tell you this too. If you are creative, there are some 100% legal ways you can get SolidWorks as an amateur. Check out some of your favorite organizations because some of them have non-commercial licenses available.
 

ajoeiam

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If I had something proprietary to work on that is something else, but if doing that it would likely be for a business, in which case the company would buy a pro version of Onshape an the files would be private.
Respectfully - - - - I disagree.
I have been working for more than a few hours on the design for a particular product.
Its similar to some existing commercial stuff but I am putting things together in a somewhat unusual fashion and I think I'm pushing the capabilities in a number of areas. Actually building this item is not hugely difficult and many of the 'interesting' models I see here are likely at a similar level of precision. What is different is that I'm extending that precision to over 2 m (think 6'6") in only one of the operating dimensions. Its also operating equipment so there are some challenges that aren't part of static models. Dunno if I will actually manufacture any past my experimental model but if I used something like Onshape - - - - - well Onshape (or its like) now according to patent law owns the design - - - - why would I want to give away hundreds of hours of work. I can't afford any serious CADD or CAM software and couldn't run it if I did. I also refuse to allow Microsoft access to my work through their key stroke logger. Somehow I would like to have my privacy and at least some security.
The idea that businesses can just magically afford everything to do anything is a very interesting concept.
Too bad that in real life there isn't much truth in it!
In business I try to by tools that help me make money and good tools help me make it relatively easily.
Software on the other hand is priced to make the vendor money and seldom is it easy to 'make money' with the product.
Most often there is a tremendous input of time needed and then the software is changed so that you can start over with the newer supposedly improved version.
That is all assuming that the software actually does what its supposed to do in the first place (most often an erroneous assumption in my experience).
 

bikr7549

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well Onshape (or its like) now according to patent law owns the design - - - - why would I want to give away hundreds of hours of work.

I was not aware of the ownership issue, I would be interested to see what is the legal basis of this statement. Certainly if I invent something using my employers tools then the idea belongs to them, but I don't think this is what you mean here regarding Onshape.

Resources are always limited, you buy (as you say) tools and things that make you money, or to reduce your costs, which is the same thing. If a business cannot buy a particular tool they pay a price in lower productivity. If they buy the tool there is a learning curve to get it up to speed and working, which takes time and money, as well as the risk that it may not actually quite work the way intended. The software vendor is a business and they are in business to make money. Using their product to make money is a choice that requires serious deliberation and its success depends a lot on how you make use of it.

I agree that it takes a lot to get going with a new package-going from the drawing board to a 2D CAD package years ago was a huge undertaking and productivity loss for awhile. Then the next step of moving from 2D to solids was yet another. But in the long run all were well worth the effort, I would not want to go back to either of the older methods, for the type work that I do. Fortunately the companies that I was working for in these transitions had the depth to absorb the costs, and the vision to want to do this, tho a few took some arm twisting.

Over the years I've used 7 CAD packages, and while there was often little in common (besides basic concept) from one to the other I have not run into drastic changes within one package that left me not being able to do my job well. There were sometimes updates that caused the use of lots of bad words, but it still worked.

edit, the cost of Onshape for professional use is from my perspective fairly low at $1500 per year for a single seat. That is less than $1 per hour for a full work year. I use it for hobby use, so am on the free 'hobby' version. How long it will stay free is always a question, especially now that they are owned by a big corporation, but this works for what I am doing, for now. Keeping my fingers crossed.
 
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MrMetric

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There are many dimensions, ajoeiam, to your statement. First, I would say that (to me), the time you put into the drawing is really academic. If you don't intend on producing the part, then give that time to the community. Frankly, many people are giving their experiences to others here on this forum for free. I guess that is the way I look at it.

Second, if you plan on producing the part commercially, then I would have to say that you really are not using the product as a hobbyist and, therefore, should probably be using a paid license. Granted, this is a bit stickier because until you sell it, you can easily consider it all a hobby (ethically). After all, how many businesses have started off as hobby operations? Quite a few, I imagine. Using OnShape in that scenario would be an utter disaster (you've released your art so you couldn't patent anything). To that end, I'd recommend either Fusion's start-up license (lookie here... I'm actually *supporting* Fusion in this case where I otherwise strongly shy away from it). I think it is good for 2 years.

The part about all this that gives me a great deal of pause about OnShape is the whole reassignment of ownership. As I mentioned, I know nothing about OnShape right now, but I am planning on moving to it if everything looks OK. Reassigning *ownership* however, is a huge wrinkle in that plan. I don't mind releasing something to the public domain, but I would never use OnShape for something that was remotely marketable (say, plans for an engine, not that they have a ton of value in today's diminishing world of the hobby. :(). Simple plates or fixtures? Sure... But anything that had real intellectual value? No way.
 

awake

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In the context of this forum, there are many who work up new designs for model engines, then sell plans for a modest amount. It would be interesting to know what the law would say about such an endeavor. Is such a person really pursuing a business, or is it a hobby, even when selling plans for $25 each? I would suspect that, if run as a business, the business would show a loss every year - if any reasonable value is given for the time invested, you'd have to sell way more plans that I think is typical. Note that the IRS tends to consider "businesses" that never show a profit not businesses, but hobbies - thus to keep people from using tax write-offs for what really isn't a business.
 

kquiggle

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Regarding OnShape having "ownership" of your work, I do not think ajoeiam is correct on this point. If you use the free version of OnShape you must make all of your work publicly accessible, but this is not the same as putting your work in the public domain nor does it assign "ownership" to OnShape.

There is of course a completely separate issue that if you used free OnShape to create something valuable, any other OnShape use could easily copy it.
 

cadsculptor

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By the way, Onshape is now owned by PTC, the ProEngineer/Creo company.
 

ajoeiam

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Regarding OnShape having "ownership" of your work, I do not think ajoeiam is correct on this point. If you use the free version of OnShape you must make all of your work publicly accessible, but this is not the same as putting your work in the public domain nor does it assign "ownership" to OnShape.

There is of course a completely separate issue that if you used free OnShape to create something valuable, any other OnShape use could easily copy it.
ONshape's current documents do not have that exact wording.
When I first looked at this 'stuff' that was the sense that I got from the male bovine excremental drivel called a EULA.
IMO when you are forced to place your document anywhere but under your personal control - - - - well - - - - you do not have the rights to said document which means, by extension, that you do not own it.
Most of the EULAs that I read are studies in how you the user have almost no rights except for to be required payment of - - - if the 'stuff' doesn't work the EULA basically say - - - - tough luck buddy - - - - better luck next time. Oh yes its more polite than that but that is the intent.

If Onshape makes me do something - - - - well then de facto they are expressing ownership rights - - - - which also means that I no longer have those rights.
Sorry - - - - my sweat - - - my stuff. If you want it - - - - then come negotiate with me - - - - don't just take it. What's so wonderful is that so much of this stuff isn't near as wonderful as it would seem from reading the promotional literature!

I am not a lawyer but I've read enough weasel text over the years and the amount included in a EULA seems to be expanding at almost a solar nova rate - - - - somehow I'm supposed to believe this kind of drivel - - - hasn't happened yet!
 

SmithDoor

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I glad to here
Microsoft is also redoing Office too.

Dave

Thank you pylon. I know there was confusion on that point. I think AutoDesk probably back pedaled on that, which is good. However, I'm still not getting warm fuzzy feelings about any of this. What the heck... I am not against seeing how OnShape works. I think it is worth a try. I suspect there is a great chance that it will remain free (because it is, in many way, more restrictive than Fusion) than there is that AutoDesk won't continue to shift the foundation. I really think in a few years they'll just curtail more. I have a LONG LONG LONG history with AutoDesk. I owned AutoCAD way back in the days when it was running on a CP/M computer
 

SomeSailor

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Onshape is good software for what it is. If you're just looking for CAD I quite like it. They DO poke around in your account though. I was contacted by a sales rep who said he noticed some of what I was working on looked commercial. He was good about it and seemed more intent on following up on a sales lead than messing with me. It's quite intuitive and works well.
 

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