Is Fusion 360 Good for 3D Printing?


Fusion 360 is a popular piece of software that has many capabilities, extending into 3D printing with the model creation.

People do wonder whether Fusion 360 is actually good for 3D printing though, as it is known for being quite challenging to get the hang of at first.

Fusion 360 is good for 3D printing, especially once you get over the initial learning curve. Many beginners, intermediate and professional 3D print designers make use of Fusion 360’s platform to create simple and complex 3D prints.

Is Fusion 360 Good for 3D Printing?

Fusion 360 is a great modeling software for 3D printing as it’s a pretty straightforward application to use and can produce simple or highly detailed models. Many people use Fusion 360 for all their 3D printing modeling. It can export STL files with ease and can even import design file types to be edited.

Fusion 360 works best for solid modeling rather than for sculpting, so it’s important to know what type of models you are wanting to create before jumping in.

The user interface for Fusion 360 can be slightly overwhelming because there are so many options and settings that you can adjust, but once you get the hang of the basic workflow, it does become easily very quickly.

You could learn the basics of Fusion 360 with a half an hour tutorial on YouTube, along with some further practicing.

If you want to do sculpting, create organic shapes and overall texturing, you want to go with Blender. For modifying existing files, Meshmixer is the better option, and for slicing you want to go with Cura.

One of the key differences with Fusion 360 versus other CAD software is how it acts like one large integrated assembly process rather than creating part files and creating an assembly of those parts.

Fusion 360 has everything in the same design space with the option to hide or move parts while you work on another. Basically, Fusion 360 produces entire projects rather than one partial design. It works well but you just have to get used to the concept.

Many people who use the free version of Fusion 360 say that it works very well, and from my own experience, I found it great once I understood it.

When it comes to very small surfaces or textures, Fusion 360 doesn’t shine so bright, so you want to use a different software for that.

It has cloud storage which is always a bonus, but sometimes it can be slow when transferring/exporting whole projects. You’ll be better off exporting specific parts of the project rather than the whole thing which you can do easily.

For models with text, Fusion 360 is pretty good, but you are probably going to want to use a better software like Inkscape which is also free. You can create the file there then export a .svg file into Fusion 360 for editing.

How Do You Use 3D Printing With Fusion 360?

First, sign up for an account with Autodesk on their website. When you are registered, you can proceed to download the Fusion 360 app. The software is available for both Windows and macOS.

Upon download, follow the installation instructions to complete its installation to your computer.

When the installation is complete, launch the software and log in using the Autodesk account you registered at the onset.

When you launch the software, try to familiarize yourself with the interface. The toolbar is located across the top of your screen. For quick and easy access, the shortcuts on the toolbar are customizable.

Once you understand how the interface works, start your design by making a simple sketch, extrude it, and make any necessary editing. Feel free to explore the sketch dimension plane when editing your model. When you are done, name and save your file.

Your files will be saved to a cloud storage, which can be accessed from any computer anywhere you go. At any point, you can make adjustments to your design. When you are ready to 3D print. Do not forget to save your project as STL, the format for 3D printing, before sending it to a printer.

Check out the video below to learn the basics of Fusion 360.

Is Fusion 360 Better Than SketchUp? Fusion 360 Vs SketchUp

While SketchUp is cool for 3D projects, Fusion 360 is better, and for several reasons. Most 3D designers have switched from SketchUp to Fusion 360 in the past decade because of the ease of managing its more diverse features.

It is easier to improve your skills on Fusion 360 because of its easy-to-learn user interface that has several drop-down menus

Some might argue that Fusion has many navigation elements and functions, but with these functions, you have a powerful tool at your disposal.

With SketchUp, you only need to choose 4 to 5 options during the editing process, but there is twice the same number of options on the Fusion 360 platform.

Users mention that it is easier to modify files with more control and accuracy with Fusion 360, and you’ll have access to new features as the software is updated at regular intervals.

Is Fusion 360 Better Than Blender? Fusion 360 Vs Blender

Fusion 360 is said to be better than Blender because it is easier to get the hang of and you can create great functional models with specific measurements. Blender is better when you want to create models or figures with specific sculpturing details.

In 3D printing, both of these software programs are widely used but for different applications. To determine which software is better, it really depends on what your general purpose of the 3D modeling is.

Blender has a few features that may not be available on Fusion 360. For example, there are more texture options as well as UV mapping on the Blender software.

A user who had been using Blender for more than 12 years recently switched to Fusion, citing how easy Fusion 360 made working on 3D projects look. Fusion 360 is also better than Blender in terms of intricate designs and detailed specifications.

Blender is targeted at sculpturing, rendering, and most animations, and it does all of these wells. Fusion 360  is targeted for 3D design and modeling. Blender may be able to perform few tasks that would normally be performed on Fusion 360, the final output is never going to meet certain manufacturing standards.

So, both software is targeted at different things, and in terms of 3D printing, Fusion offers a better option.

Fusion 360 Vs TinkerCAD – Which for 3D Printing?

Fusion 360 is said to be a better option because TinkerCAD is targeted at younger and less experienced users who are just getting into 3D modeling, while Fusion 360 is more suited for users wanting to make professional prototypes, functional parts, and intricate pieces of designs.

TinkerCAD has a simpler user interface, but Fusion 360 is packed with more modeling and editing options for more professional 3D projects. TinkerCAD has some exciting features that can make your task easier, but also has some limitations with the shape catalog.

This is unlike the improved Fusion 360 which gives you total control over shapes while working with it. TinkerCAD focuses more on making 3D models, leading you to think in terms of three-dimensional objects and their respective sizes, orientations, and positions.

Fusion 360, on the other hand, is an actual desktop 3D modeling program that makes use of cloud computing for more high-end projects and more experienced users. So in terms of functionality and the actual 3D printing, most users rate Fusion 360 higher.

Users have reported that TinkerCAD lags occasionally and it doesn’t have a ‘project history’ tag that allows you to conveniently modify models you have been working on. With Fusion 360, you get to check your project history with just a click, and you can handle projects with more precision.

For functional models that require tight tolerances and accurate curvature, Fusion 360 definitely is preferred over TinkerCAD.

Is Fusion 360 Better Than FreeCAD? Fusion 360 Vs FreeCAD

Fusion 360 is better than FreeCAD mainly because FreeCAD doesn’t have the advanced level capabilities and 3D modeling features that are available on Fusion 360.

Even though FreeCAD can be used to make simple CAD models, using some path functions, and export them as STL for printing, there are certain editing features and display settings that are present in Fusion 360 that are missing on FreeCAD.

For editing 3D models, FreeCAD is not as polished as Fusion.

Fusion 360 stores your files in cloud storage, unlike FreeCAD, which stores your files on the local drive. In case of virus infection, system format, or theft, the files will be lost. But with cloud storage, you have access to your saved files anytime and from anywhere in the world.

FreeCAD is still under development, according to the developers. Fusion 360 is an already complete platform that has everything you need for your project. FreeCAD is free to extend, whereas Fusion 360’s extensions and plugins are of an additional cost.

So overall, it is still wise to stick with Fusion 360 unless you want something very simple, though in that case, I’d use TinkerCAD.

Does Fusion 360 Have a Slicer?

The slicer for Fusion 360 was discontinued in August 2020 when Autodesk informed its users that it will no longer maintain Slicer for Fusion 360, citing that the technology is ‘deprecated’.

This announcement left users with the last version for Windows and macOS before that date, the last Slicer that was developed.

Before that announcement, Fusion 360 did have a slicer that was built right in the software. There was no need to export your models as STL any longer. You just had to grab models directly from the design workspace. The slicer, just like the platform, had nice features for you to complete your project.

Many users preferred it because it makes their project more organized, having everything they need in one place without having to import and export back and forth.

Is Fusion 360 Free for 3D Printing?

Fusion 360 is free for 3D printing specifically for personal use, or if you are a student or in the educational field. For commercial purposes, you’ll have to pay the $60 monthly fee or $495 annual fee. They do have a 30-day free trial to test full features.

On the expiration of the 30 days of free use, you can keep using the 3D software for free for a year if it is for personal use, although this is a limited version that includes basic functionality.

If you are a student or in the education field (possibly in the classroom setting), you also get to use the platform for free for one year. This is not a limited version but contains every feature you need. This list also includes academic institutions.

Other requirements that allow users to get Fusion 360 for free include the following

  • If you are a startup business, but your annual revenue is less than $100,000
  • A non-commercial 3D project enthusiast.

If you do not fall into these categories, or your ‘grace’ period has elapsed but you still want to stick with the platform, you must choose either monthly, annual, and a 3-year subscription.

  1. Monthly – $60
  2. Annual –  $495
  3. 3-year subscription $1,335

You can check the Fusion 360 pricing page here.

These are fairly pricey compared to other software, considering most are free. You do get some serious functionality, but it is more geared to professionals and businesses that are doing large-scale projects.

Best Fusion 360 Alternatives for 3D Printing

Some of the best alternatives to Fusion 360 are:

  • Solidworks
  • Inventor
  • AutoCAD
  • SketchUp
  • Blender
  • FreeCAD
  • OnShape
  • TinkerCAD
  • Solid Edge

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