Realities of Fusion 360 in a Machine Shop?
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    Default Realities of Fusion 360 in a Machine Shop?

    Hi Guys

    I've been messing around with Fusion for a few weeks now and am wondering how likely this can be utilized in a shop. Cloud storage is a dilemma as I believe all parts we manufacture are under an NDA and we do some under ITAR. Are there any ways around this cloud system? Seems like a great piece of software for the price point and just keep seeing this software pop up whether in machining videos or word of mouth.


    For reference we are currently using Surfcam... with the maintenance + licensing fee's and bugs in the program over the last 2 years I think it's time we start looking elsewhere. Support has been rather hit and miss over the last few years as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jetrocket View Post
    Hi Guys

    I've been messing around with Fusion for a few weeks now and am wondering how likely this can be utilized in a shop. Cloud storage is a dilemma as I believe all parts we manufacture are under an NDA and we do some under ITAR. Are there any ways around this cloud system? Seems like a great piece of software for the price point and just keep seeing this software pop up whether in machining videos or word of mouth.


    For reference we are currently using Surfcam... with the maintenance + licensing fee's and bugs in the program over the last 2 years I think it's time we start looking elsewhere. Support has been rather hit and miss over the last few years as well.
    My opinion only: the cloud is a fucking joke when trying to run a business.
    It doesn't take long to find several situations where companies were at a stand-still because their cloud based software did not work.
    There is one right here on the front page of this section of PM.
    Not to mention the extortion factor. Are you ready to put your whole business up for ransom?

    Fuck Autodesk! (yea, I am bitter!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jetrocket View Post
    ...with the maintenance + licensing fee's and bugs in the program ... Support has been rather hit and miss ...
    Do you seriously expect this to be any better with Fusion360 - or ANY software package?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky961 View Post
    Do you seriously expect this to be any better with Fusion360 - or ANY software package?
    Sadly I still believe there may be people out there that can recognize a problem and find a solution.... it’s a lot to ask I know

    In all seriousness just seeking information, I’m understanding that all software has it’s quirks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jetrocket View Post
    Hi Guys

    I've been messing around with Fusion for a few weeks now and am wondering how likely this can be utilized in a shop. Cloud storage is a dilemma as I believe all parts we manufacture are under an NDA and we do some under ITAR. Are there any ways around this cloud system? Seems like a great piece of software for the price point and just keep seeing this software pop up whether in machining videos or word of mouth.


    For reference we are currently using Surfcam... with the maintenance + licensing fee's and bugs in the program over the last 2 years I think it's time we start looking elsewhere. Support has been rather hit and miss over the last few years as well.
    It depends on what you're doing and what you expect out of CAM software. If you are a medium to large shop doing any sort of complex work, it's not for you. If all you want is cheap software than can do most 'normal' jobs then Fusion will probably be a good choice. But as was mentioned, what happens if the price drastically changes? I still believe this is the best software for a shop that is just starting, but once you have hit stride and have means....prob best to move away from it.
    Don't think for a second that Fusion is on the same level as your typical medium to high end CAM (Esprit, Mastercam, NX, etc)

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    When you find it, please let me (and everyone else here) know.

    How does that go again? Fast, cheap, right - pick two.

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    I've been mostly satisfied with the free HSM Express. It absolutely has limitations but pretty good for free and can be used totally offline.

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    My realities of using it in a machine shop:

    Cloud does mostly suck. The automatic versioning is nice sometimes. I only use it on one computer, so the file sharing is of no value to me. The nag to go online is annoying. The not asking before downloading 500MB of update when I'm on a cell data connection, super annoying. The data does get cached locally, so I haven't had trouble with not having access to current projects while offline.

    There are a few nice features in the modelling part. It is ridiculously easy to simplify geometry. Far easier than making small tweaks in Solidworks (which is my main CAD system that I've been using for ~12 years). The modeller is way better for cleaning up models from customers than dealing with Solidworks.

    It is cheap.

    I have the post for my main milling machine sorted out that I don't have to hand edit before running the code. My lathe is ancient, and hasn't made it to that level.

    Everything you want to do has a video on youtube showing how to do it. I usually find the answer to any questions I have either in the Autodesk forum, or youtube faster than I can get a technician on the phone at my VAR for Solidworks. (and my VAR is pretty decent, I don't wait long).

    Overall, I think there are plenty of places it could be better. For low demand CAM (my usage), it's OK. Not awesome, not terrible. If I was paying a lot for it, I would expect much more.

    I have my software arranged such that my business is not at the whim of Autodesk. If they shut it all down tomorrow, and charged $20k/user to retrieve their data, I'd not pay, and abandon my data. I would not lose much more than the time required to decide what CAM package to move to next, and the training/figuring out time of that next CAM.

    Most of my production happens via custom macros, so CAM access isn't business critical for me.

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    Personally I've been very happy with Fusion 360. I used Solidworks & HSM Works in the past and much prefer Fusion. Modelling is faster/easier and far less fussy in my experience.

    I have 3 computers that I run Fusion on at various times, so cloud storage makes it easier to ensure I'm accessing the latest version of a given model.

    I have the post for my Fadal customized in a few simple but nice ways, editing the posts is easy and posts can be stored online as well so that wherever you go you have the right post.

    Some view cloud storage as a negative... I work in the tech industry and the durability of cloud storage is orders of magnitude higher than anyone's home/shop computer. ie: you're much more likely to permanently lose data if it's all stored on your local computer.

    A good backup schedule can help, but most people aren't religious about their backups, even if they have a backup system at all. I have also personally seen a system of multiple backups (onsite & offsite) fail simultaneously and cause the loss of a month of data.

    This is not a scenario that can reasonably happen with cloud storage, given that Autodesk are very likely to be using Amazon S3 or Google cloud as the underlying layer for storage, both of which are durable to the point that it would take a nuclear event for you to lose your data. I personally view cloud storage as a plus, as it means I'm much less likely to lose critical data.

    The scenario that they decide to hold your data to ransom is fairly nonsensical as they would get sued to the moon and back fairly quickly. Yes prices could increase, but that's the case with any software package, and you'd have plenty of time to export your data and move elsewhere.

    I have had no issues working offline and then syncing later in the cases when my wifi/internet are flakey at the shop. Syncing is automatic in that case when the connection comes back.

    Overall using Fusion has been a huge win for me and my business. Much less expensive than Solidworks, well integrated CAM, and very straight forward to learn. I have no issues at all recommending it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aarongough View Post
    The scenario that they decide to hold your data to ransom is fairly nonsensical as they would get sued to the moon and back fairly quickly. Yes prices could increase, but that's the case with any software package, and you'd have plenty of time to export your data and move elsewhere.
    I agree with much of your post. On the abrupt shutdown, there have already been numerous shutdowns of various software services shutdown. Microsoft had a music service. Fully DRM files, people bought music on it, and when it shutdown customers lost access to the music they had purchased. Photobucket shutdown access abruptly, and ramped up prices significantly, and then made it difficult to access user data. It's not without precedence. Also the terms and conditions say that Autodesk can discontinue the service in its entirety with 90 days notice. It can choose not to renew your subscription at any renewal point. And the data is in proprietary format. What other software can you import everything into?

    Fusion 360 will be available so long as it is in the interests of Autodesk. When they decide that it is not, they will shut it down at their convenience. They have set their Terms and Conditions to allow them to do that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by adamm View Post
    I agree with much of your post. On the abrupt shutdown, there have already been numerous shutdowns of various software services shutdown. Microsoft had a music service. Fully DRM files, people bought music on it, and when it shutdown customers lost access to the music they had purchased. Photobucket shutdown access abruptly, and ramped up prices significantly, and then made it difficult to access user data. It's not without precedence. Also the terms and conditions say that Autodesk can discontinue the service in its entirety with 90 days notice. It can choose not to renew your subscription at any renewal point. And the data is in proprietary format. What other software can you import everything into?

    Fusion 360 will be available so long as it is in the interests of Autodesk. When they decide that it is not, they will shut it down at their convenience. They have set their Terms and Conditions to allow them to do that.
    Agreed, this is about the only real risk. Usually in this case you'll have enough time to save data, but I suppose there's no guarantee. Backing up files to external formats can mitigate the risks...

    Personally I think the risk is minimal and I'll certainly continue using Fusion. Hopefully I won't be posting to this thread regretfully in a fews years lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky961 View Post
    When you find it, please let me (and everyone else here) know.

    How does that go again? Fast, cheap, right - pick two.
    My comment was aimed more towards software like Surfcam, Mastercam, etc...not Fusion. The reason I posted was to inquire about the "realities" of using this as CAM software in a shop environment. I'm skeptical at this price point it will offer the same things as Surfcam and such.

    With the $35k we payed up front and the yearly licensing and maintenance increasing every year it's not justified by the abilities of the software alone at least for our needs. I'd bite my tongue and just keep plugging along if they could just get the zoom in box off my screen after I've zoomed in... it now looks like it's part of my wireframe which is rather annoying.

    In my experience Surfcam has not been cheap, fast, and or good. It's been on a steady decline in our eyes. We've got a CMM from Hexagon who bought out Vero I believe and it's all is kind of the same issue. I believe our last renewal for maintenance and calibrations was at $12k which was 25% higher then last year, and you can never get support.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jetrocket View Post
    In my experience Surfcam has not been cheap, fast, and or good. It's been on a steady decline in our eyes. We've got a CMM from Hexagon who bought out Vero I believe and it's all is kind of the same issue. I believe our last renewal for maintenance and calibrations was at $12k which was 25% higher then last year, and you can never get support.
    I agree. Last few years of "updates" are what exactly? Some basic drawing tools and minor things here or there? Pocket Rough? Really? It's just 2D adaptive, and buggy as hell at that. Toolpaths appear way out to the side in outer space. Adding/modifying stock been broken and buggy for 2 years.

    You might get better help posting smurfcam questions here. Seems like theres a few of us here who still use it.

    I know of one job shop nearby who ditched smurfcam and went to Fusion, but I think that was due to not being able to find a programmer who can use surfcam.
    I keep thinking about trying something else, but I just have so much time invested in it already. Templates, tools, POSTS. I do really like MPost and PostHaste, though. So easy to get your code exactly as you want, and it can actually do some powerful stuff.

    What kind of work do you guys do, Jet?

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    We use Gibbscam as our main programming software. I have used Fusion quite a bit for shop drawings and fixtures and such. At times I have gotten really enthused with it and thought maybe our simple mill programming we would completely transition this way. I have done some lathe programming on it, but it does not come close to Gibbs. All in all Gibbscam is a much more mature software. It also seems like Gibbscam has a faster workflow, although that is probably due to my experience with it. I have never been able to get the post to work completely how I want on Fusion. I suppose I could pay someone for that. So no I don't think it can do what Gibbs or Mastercam can, but it can do a lot and is constantly improving. If I was starting a new shop like we did 6 years ago I would give it a good look.

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    Quote Originally Posted by munruh View Post
    So no I don't think it can do what Gibbs or Mastercam can, but it can do a lot and is constantly improving. If I was starting a new shop like we did 6 years ago I would give it a good look.
    I'll certainly give them that they are adding features fast. When I started my shop, I looked at it, and dismissed it at that time as inadequate. Then I looked at it again around 1 year ago, and they had made improvements to the point where it became useful for me.

    For some tasks they are reaching parity with more established packages, and the overall polish is getting better and better.

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    I thought I saw recently on their roadmap that one of the things they are working on is better offline usability, keep the online stuff for those that want the multi computer share drawings etc stuff.

    I started using it a couple months ago and have found it easy to learn. Would I want to do full 5 axis stuff on it...maybe not, but 1186mfg on instagram does and does some pretty neat stuff so it must work. Is there better, sure but you are going to pay for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JP Machining View Post
    I started using it a couple months ago and have found it easy to learn. Would I want to do full 5 axis stuff on it...maybe not, but 1186mfg on instagram does and does some pretty neat stuff so it must work. Is there better, sure but you are going to pay for it.
    I think Solidworks has a problem on their hands with Fusion. Solidworks added CAM to their offering, which I believe was due to Autodesk bundling in CAM. The thing is, that for the cost of my maintenance on Solidworks, I get the crappy, only works on single parts version of Solidworks CAM. It only does 3-axis (I think, certainly not 5-axis). I can't model in fixtures. It's a pain to set up, and there is very little documentation available, and my VAR has no idea what to do with it. And they want me to pay for a bunch of training, that requires being away from work for a few days (not making any money).

    For the same amount of money, I can get Fusion ultimate, which gives assemblies in CAM, 5-axis, and there is tons and tons of information available to figure out how to use the program. It also has FEA analysis in the same package for the same money. To do that in Solidworks, even after paying more upfront for the higher level licenses, the maintenance on the Solidworks package would be more than Fusion ultimate.

    Solidworks is going to have to respond at some point, or they are going to start losing customers that don't need whatever the latest features of Solidworks are (last features that Solidworks added that I found useful were mouse gestures, and the pop-up menu when you press 's'. How many years ago was that?). I think Autodesk is just going to keep moving into Solidworks' territory.

    I still don't like the cloud, and the ability of Autodesk to cut off subscription customers at any time. I doubt I want to be selling designs based on FEA results that can carry liability for years, but Autodesk can vapourize at any time. But they are out competing Solidworks. I hope that results in Solidworks doubling down on perpetual licenses, and adds assembly functionality to the standard CAM package. I'm not holding my breath.

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    The other "risk" with fusion 360 is that from what I have seen of it, I dabbled in it some before buying Solidworks this year, is that it is a work in progress. The pricing is out of character for autodesk- their stuff is not generally cheap. Also, based on the experience of many on this forum, it seems that it should not be assumed that what they do today or say they will do tomorrow is what they will actually do. I think over time as they get everyone hooked they will jack the pricing up to typical adesk pricing. Then with it being totally cloud based those who have used it will be forced to either pay or have no access to their work.

    adamm- regarding solidworks CAM- I agree with most of what you say. I bought it with the the CAM upgrade, whatever they call it. This give assemblies and indexing. For me so far a good fit. I did get somewhat frustrated with the support at first. My VAR had at one point sold some of the CAM's that Autodesk bought but not CAMworks so they really didn't know anything about CAMworks. They just recently added CAMworks to their line and somewhere got a guy who really knows CAMworks for tech support. Also, with the user base and knowledge base being large with Solidworks I hope that the knowledge base for CAMworks will increase a bunch. So far I am pretty satisfied but I have a lot to learn.
    Last edited by Pete Deal; 05-02-2018 at 07:19 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aarongough View Post
    Agreed, this is about the only real risk. Usually in this case you'll have enough time to save data, but I suppose there's no guarantee. Backing up files to external formats can mitigate the risks...

    Personally I think the risk is minimal and I'll certainly continue using Fusion. Hopefully I won't be posting to this thread regretfully in a fews years lol
    I suspect you are relatively young and have not yet had the Autodesk BOHICA (Bend Over Here It Comes Again) exam yet. Having gotten it twice I look at Fusion 360 as a dangling worm and once enough of you have bitten they will set the hook. When you read ALL the fine print do you still actually own your data? Wouldn't surprise me a bit if you didn't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by garyhlucas View Post
    When you read ALL the fine print do you still actually own your data? Wouldn't surprise me a bit if you didn't.

    Remove the tin foil hat...they aren't sitting in their skull island lair stealing all your design work and having sweat shop labour manufacturing those components.
    Taken from the terms of service...
    2. CONTENT.
    2.1 Your Content is Yours. You maintain ownership of and responsibility for Your Content and responsibility for Your conduct while using the Service Offering.
    You agree that Your Content and Your (and Your Authorized Users) conduct in using the Service Offering will comply with all applicable laws, rules and....
    Sure, they will jack the prices one day but they aren't stealing anything. From the TOS they seem to be honest crooks.


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