Fusion 360 is a 3D CAD and CAM software package, which DaBL commonly uses. Educators can get a free license by signing up for an Autodesk account with an edu email which will allow them to download it for free here.
Basics (2D sketch)
To begin designing in fusion the first thing you will need, besides the idea itself, is to make a two dimensional sketch. A good tip to creating a sketch is, if you can, try to break down your design into its fundamental shapes (squares, rectangles, circles, polygons, etc.). Not only will this give you a better understanding of what your design is, but, it will also help you in making the design. The first step to creating your sketch will be to:
- Create the sketch using the create sketch icon
- Once you've created the sketch you'll be greeted by 3 yellow boxes and 3 lines that are red, blue, and green. The boxes are the 3 planes you can work in and the lines signify the X (red), Y (green), and Z (blue) axes.
It does not matter what plane you initially select to begin your sketch, however, once you've selected a plane you can begin creating the sketch.
There are many different tools that will help you create your sketch, many of which are geometricly based (which is why we advised breaking down your design into essential shapes). Some of the basic sketch functions are:
- Center Diameter circle (C); it does exactly what it seems like it would do, it creates a circle of a given diameter around a selected point
- Line (L); it creates a line of a given length and angle
- 2-point Rectangle (R); Creates a rectangle of a given length and width
- 3-point arc; creates a arc based on 3 selected points
- Circumscribed-polygon and inscribed-polygon; creates a polygon based on a given radius
- Mirror; mirror a points or lines around a mirror line
- circular pattern; creates a identical pattern that rotates around a given object
- rectangular pattern; creates a identical pattern in rows and columns
- sketch dimension (D); specifies a dimension eg. length of a line, angle between lines, etc.
- offset (O); creates an outline of a selected sketch
As you add things to your sketch you are likely going to want things to change in a proportional manner, to make sure that occurs fusion has things called constraints. Constraints are based on geometric rules which will allow a sketch to change uniformly. some of the more commonly used constraints are:
- parallel: makes two lines parallel to each other
- perpendicular: makes two line perpendicular to each other
- coincident: placing one point onto another point, effectively making them into one point
- equal: make two objects equal each other (I say objects as opposed to just lines because the equal constraint can also be used on things like angles)
- construction: although not technically a constraint, it is used to remove an object from the sketch and make it a reference ( it is effectively like commenting out code).
There is many other constraints that can be used but often you don't have to manually select them because they will appear automatically. Some examples are the midpoint constraint, the mirror constraint, the offset constraint, polygon constraint, etc.
Once you've finished your sketch the next step would be to extrude it using the extrude function (E). Once you've extruded it you can manipulate it further, some common modification are:
- fillet (F): rounds an edge based on a given radius
- chamfer: changes an edge to a bevelled edge , bevel being an edge that is not perpendicular to the face of said object.
- shell: hollows out an object
Once you've finished modifying your sketch you can export it as a stl by going to Tools --> Make --> 3D print
- Converting STL to fusion body: If you've imported an STL you've probably noticed that you can't really edit it much. This is due to the way fusion, and other CAD softwares, create their STL's. Although STL's are a general format to which most CAD softwares can manage , editing them is difficult due to the fact that each STL is created in their own CAD software and can only be substantially edited in said software. However, there is a way to convert an STL (that was not made in fusion) to a fusion body. This method is very inconsistent and you are likely better off redesigning whatever you are trying to make manually. But, if you can't, you can try this method, the first step is to import your STL then , within the mesh dropdown, you are going to have to reduce the number of faces using the reduce function, then you can convert the mesh to Brep (which will make it a body). Another way to convert a plain STL is by going to Solid --> Create --> Create mesh section. This will create a bisecting plane through you mesh, you will have to repeat this many times to get a proper outline of your mesh. Once, you've done this enough you can use the fit line to curve function to create a proper sketch of the mesh using the planes. Once you've made the sketch's you can loft each section to each other and make a fusion body from the mesh (however, this very inconsistent and once again I recommend that you try to make whatever you are trying to make by yourself).
- Loft: Creates a transitional face between two sketches
- Revolve: creates a body that is revolved a axis and is based on a sketch
- Sweep: creates a body along a path based on two sketches on either end of the path
- Split body: creates new bodies by splitting an existing body via a plane or face
- Split face: splits a face of a body using a plane or face.
- Inspect (I): allows you to measure plane(s), line(s), angle(s), etc.
- Change parameters: allows you to make a traditional function which you can call as a variable in your design
- construct offset plane: a plane that is offset from a plane, face, or sketch
- Hole(H)/thread: makes a threaded (or not threaded) hole of a given radius based on drill point, and angle.
- Box, Cylinder, Torus, Pipe, Sphere, Coil: Makes a 3-D shape
- insert canvas: allows you to insert an image