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Autodesk Fusion 360 or other free software?

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MrMetric

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I do get a chuckle that we can complain about the cost of castings, but find the recurrent cost of Fusion to be perfectly fine. Hmmm, but that is OK. We each have our own way of looking at things. For what it is worth, I prefer bar stock too. If I screw something up, I am not searching for a (likely obsolete) replacement casting. That said, I think that castings have a certain charm that is fun too. Plus, it is an additional skill, and in the end, all of this is about stretching our minds.

I decided to buy SolidWorks. It is only $8750 and it is a perpetual license. I'm dropping another 2500 on a CAM system. Money is, after all, irrelevant.
 

SomeSailor

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I have played with a bit of casting before I got my mill. Glad to see you settled on something. I haven't used SolidWorks in forever. I'm sure its even better than when I played with it.
 

MrMetric

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I have played with a bit of casting before I got my mill. Glad to see you settled on something. I haven't used SolidWorks in forever. I'm sure its even better than when I played with it.
LOL... I was yanking your guys' chains because you all seem to care very little about expenses. Clearly you have more disposable budget than I do. But, that is all good. We are who we are. I'm better off than some, apparently but quite a bit behind others.

FWIW, though. I think that SolidWorks beats the pants off Fusion. HOWEVER, it is far more difficult to learn. It is really geared more to the larger organization. Not diss'ing Fusion, but it isn't perfect for every situation.
 

SomeSailor

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I watch my 83 year old father struggle with just day to day things. His dexterity is gone, his attention span diminished and his general interest in learning new things has tapered away. He would argue those things, but I see it and chose not to worry about small things like owning or renting my software. If time is a commodity I can control by buying a license, I'm in.
 

nealeb

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I've just installed the free version of SolidEdge 3D. Be interesting to see what it's like compared to F360.
 

MrMetric

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Neal... Can you give a little more information about that? Specifically, is it time based [edit: doesn't expire], license locked to a computer, or activation based? And, does it have CAM or is it capable of generating STEP files?

edit: Pretty sure it doesn't have CAM. I plan on trying this one out though. If it can output STEP then I can buy MeshCAM, Dolphin, or something else. Because I really am an amateur, I don't care if I have a watermark on the plans or if I cannot open the drawing in the commercial version (although I would have thought that they have some service to convert a plan if someone's hobby is changed to a business).
 
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nealeb

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Haven't actually done anything with it yet but as far as I can there is no licence expiry date (i.e. it is unlimited time) and I don't think that it is locked to a specific machine. I have the "Community" edition as I struggled to see differences between two or three offerings. But given that it is free, I'm not sure why it would be machine-specific. I'll update as I discover things but don't hold your breath - I have to get a couple of things done in F360 first.
 

MrMetric

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Being free is, sadly, irrelevant to licensing. The primary intent of locking to a machine is that it helps reduce illicit usage of the product outside the scope of the license. That would be commercial use on a hobby license. If they've neutered the functionality significantly, they may not do that. The primary intent of time basing something is, in my opinion and most of those I know, is to perform a marketing bait and switch. Get people used to the product and grow your market base, then eventually stop issuing the licenses; this is the reason I tend to shy away from free time based time based license.

If the community edition of solidworks looks like it is highly functional and either has CAM or STP output, then that could be very attractive. There wouldn't be the risk implicit to F360 of the owner deciding to charge for all licenses (my assumption of where AutoDesk is going). And you can always use a full featured CAM product that doesn't have the unacceptable (my opinion) hand editing required in F360. MeshCAM or perhaps Dolphin might work there. I don't need something as fancy as F360 CAM. I just need something that I own (free or paid... just not rented) so that it is reliably available.

Good find, Neal. Thank you for your information. I'm doing a solar installation right now so I'm really tied up with that and haven't been able to research any of this. I hope to finish up the install next weekend and that will hopefully give me some more time (although I really need to go through the Android programming guide as I am looking at a new employer who uses that)... So many things... So little time.
 

kquiggle

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OnShape free use :

There was some discussion here recently about whether using the free version of OnShape puts your work in the public domain or not. This has not been a concern to me as I put all my hobbyist work in the public domain anyway, but I thought I would research it a bit further. Below is the relevant paragraph in the OnShape Terms of Use.

I interpret the paragraph to mean that any document you create will be in the public domain, but not necessarily the "invention" itself. For example, if I invent an anti-gravity machine and draw up plans for it in OnShape Free, then anyone could copy and distribute those plans legally but I could still patent my invention. Of course this would be a stupid thing to do, but that's a different question. It all turns around what constitutes the actual "intellectual property" in the document - the drawing itself or the idea encompassed by the drawing.

For any Public Document owned by a Free Plan User created on or after August 7, 2018, or any Public Document created prior to that date without a LICENSE tab, Customer grants a worldwide, royalty free and non-exclusive license to any End User or third party accessing the Public Document to use the intellectual property contained in Customer’s Public Document without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Document, and to permit persons to whom the Document is made available to do the same.​
But we don't need to get into the legal maze. As a practical matter, if you are developing work for commercial purposes then OnShape Free is not for you. If you are a hobbyist who does not want to share their work then OnShape Free is not for you (also - What is wrong with you!?).
 

Cogsy

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Here in Australia, once your 'invention' has been publicly shared, no matter how restricted, then the invention is no longer eligible to be patented. In practice, this means if you tell your best friend all about a fancy new idea you've had for the worlds' best mousetrap, you've shared the invention and can no longer lodge a patent on it. So you need to get anyone you share your ideas with to sign formal non-disclosure agreements - having your designs publicly available on the OnShape platform would invalidate any possibly claim to those intellectual rights (at least according to Australian patent law).
 

MrMetric

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That same caveat exists in the US too... So, although you may own the invention, you cannot patent it... Which, of course, makes me question whether or not you really own it, after all. But, I agree that we don't really want to got down this rat hole. Frankly, I think the thread has morphed into alternatives to F360, which is far more useful for those that are interested in what exists beyond the sphere of AutoDesk. OnShape is an integral part of that offering, and I think the concern about how drawings are managed is something that is well documented (the interpretation is subject to the user).
 

TSutrina

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LOL... I was yanking your guys' chains because you all seem to care very little about expenses. Clearly you have more disposable budget than I do. But, that is all good. We are who we are. I'm better off than some, apparently but quite a bit behind others.

FWIW, though. I think that SolidWorks beats the pants off Fusion. HOWEVER, it is far more difficult to learn. It is really geared more to the larger organization. Not diss'ing Fusion, but it isn't perfect for every situation.
I have used Pro E and Siemens UG-NX both for engineering firms. And have had some experience with Solidworks. I have used the free cad programs of Granite, Creo, and freeCAD plus evaluated a few others. EVERY CAD PROGRAM HAS ADVANTAGES AND PROBLEMS. Building a model seems to take the same amount of time independent of the program. The big advantage of CAD is that changes and drawing are faster. That is a big savings for companies. The general approach of all successful cad programs basics are the same so using one program is not that difficult then another. The layering of getting to features has to be learned but that just takes practice as does the approaches to get around the particular problem in each cad program. Cad program divide into two groups: those that retain a history of the steps taken. So each time a model is open the computer goes threw the history file to build the model. To alter the model or fix a crash requires going back in the history to make changes. This becomes almost impossible for huge models such as for a casting, metal or plastic of a housing. Often large sections of a build are thrown out. The other group has a file that is the end result like a step or Igus file, you have parameter for many features of the model which can be changed, and your model could crash so undue capacity is required. It typically is created when the model is saved so a working history exist between saving the model. Thus to change the model the person cuts away and then build the replacement if needed. The model does not crash the same. Usually a feature can not be done so a work around feature of features is made.
 
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SomeSailor

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I have been awarded a couple of design and utility patents and a few trade secrets along the way. If you work fr a company that can and will afford the money to defend them... go for it... otherwise keep the idea to yourself. If you're working on something on your own and hope to make a few bucks in the market... don't use OnShape. :)
 

MrMetric

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SomeSailor.... Sounds like you are probably, or were, a Boeing employee. They defend patent and trademark usage with 'vigor. Even ancient things that have been brought into their portfolio through acquisition, such as "P51 Mustang". It is amazing how much the company owns now.

I do agree with your basic sentiments about OnShape though. As time has progressed, I've become far less interested in it... In the end, everything has a balance. We've discussed, ad nauseam, my concerns about F360, but I am not 100% comfortable with OnShape either. I actually think they went too far with their restrictions, and it is clear that others feel the same. In the end, all of these companies want hobbyists to use the program because a certain percentage of those will transition to commercial usage. So it is a balance for them to allow low end users while preventing license abuse. OnShape, in my opinion, went too far. However, if you are 75 years old, have zero interest in ever taking a widget and making a business of it, and are really just interested in sharing with the world what you are designing, then OnShape is probably fine for you. But that person is, by that description, never going to transition to a commercial usage, so OnShape will never get an up-sell.
 

SomeSailor

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Yes, I'm a System Engineer / Program Manager with Boeing. I work in Product Development (mostly R&D around connectivity and cyber), but you're right, large corporations spend a TON on IP. They're very supportive in bring invention disclosures and trade protection ideas forward. They even pay a small reward for each and provide nice plaques when awarded (and ya get a cool tee inventor shirt every year). :)

I really like Onshape and used it almost exclusively before I got my mill. The lack of CAM pulled me over to Fusion. Ironically, the CEO of OnShape is Jon Hirschtick who founded SolidWorks. Who knows if they'll glom on some CAM natively to OnShape, but for now I think VisualCamc is the only CAM extension specifically for Onshape? I haven't tried it though. Maybe it's not as crippled as Fusion is?
 

Mike Henry

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I really like Onshape and used it almost exclusively before I got my mill. The lack of CAM pulled me over to Fusion. Ironically, the CEO of OnShape is Jon Hirschtick who founded SolidWorks. Who knows if they'll glom on some CAM natively to OnShape, but for now I think VisualCamc is the only CAM extension specifically for Onshape? I haven't tried it though. Maybe it's not as crippled as Fusion is?
Onshape also supports SprutCAM through an add-on though I rarely use that. They support several other CAM products the same way as well as Kiri:Moto.

 

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