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Book about Fusion 360

In February 2020 I published the first book in Spanish “Fusion 360 con ejemplos y ejercicios prácticos” with Marcombo publisher.

Fusion 360 is a very complete CAD/CAM/CAE application from Autodesk. It has several license types, among them free use for hobby and education, and thanks to this it has become one of the most popular tools for makers and 3D Printing youtubers. This trend started around 2018. There are other free options more or less comparable (without entering in what is best debate…) like FreeCAD and OnShape.

FreeCAD is open source and keeps improving every day, OnShape is run in a web browser and free for public projects.

Another question is that Autodesk is betting hard on Generative Design, fully integrated in Fusion 360, and even users of his big brother Inventor need to go to this tool to get access to this functionality. This makes Fusion 360 attractive for the professional group, usually engineers.

That’s why the book is intended for all public, getting into all aspects and tools and starting from scratch. It gets deeper in the parts of more usage such as the creation of CAD models in its different variations, but it also has specific chapters for other elements such as simulation (CAE), Generative Design, Manufacturing (CAM) and others.

A practical book

The focus is eminently practical, intended to be read near a computer with the application running, and performing the steps detailed in the examples used to explain parts that are typically more theoretical.

The practical exercises are also a fundamental part of the book, and are organized by topics so that the reader can solve them as he makes progress in the chapter. I grouped them in separate chapters in case someone that has already some knowledge of the tool wants to access them directly, and if he needs to clarify something he can dive into the related chapter where it is explained. It’s a flow that is opposite to usual flow, but nonetheless valid.

The normal learning flow is to read the topic while applying its examples, and solve the exercises when it is advised. The practical exercises are intended to be able to make something from the beginning, with few tools, and its complexity increases as far as the reader goes into the chapter and learns more tools. Every time a practical exercise is unlocked with what is learned to that moment there is a framed notification.

First Fusion 360 book in Spanish

In summer 2018, when I agreed with Marcombo to write a book about Fusion 360, there was very little literature about the tool even in English, and in Spanish there was absolutely nothing. In fact there was also very little in Spanish in YouTube. So I started hands on, on one hand by creating the Normaker YouTube channel focused on Fusion 360 in Spanish, and on the other hand by defining the book index so its content.

The book was published in February 2020, and although there is more literature about the topic in English, it stayed as the first book in Spanish. The Fusion 360 is however not translated to Spanish, and in the book we show the English term from the application, along with its Spanish translation to make understanding easier.

Book content

I will follow the index and add my comments for each chapter with the most relevant for each one. So if you read this you can get an idea of the content you are going to find in addition to the information that the index provides already.

Chapter 1. Fusion 360 environment – page 13

In the Fusion 360 environment we treat the license types, how the mix of cloud-local works and its advantages and disadvantages, the different object creation modes that Fusion 360 provides, and finally the interface and navigation. Even if we tried to make it practical, it is usually the most boring part. But you have to go through it as it is difficult to make progress in the following chapters without an understanding of the interface.

Chapter 2. 2D Design – Sketch – page 43

Given that a sketch is a 2D drawing that is applied to a plane, we first explain the different methods to place a sketch on planes or planar faces from objects. Afterwards we review sketch tools, skipping some variations and obvious tools such as a point insertion (it’s just one click) or making an ellipse, to reduce chapter extension that goes already over 60 pages with the practice included.

In the Constraints section I go into maximum detail because it is a relevant topic, same for inferences (when Fusion 360 defines which constraint to apply automatically depending on how you trace a line or where it connects, etc). There is also in this chapter a topic not usually explained, and these are positioning help tools. They allow to position elements vertically or horizontally against other without creating an inference.

In addition to this, we also treat construction elements and parameters.

Chapter 3. 3D Design – Solid – page 101

This chapter is also extensive because it is the bulk of what it is more used in the application, solid modeling. Afer a brief explanation of the difference between direct modeling and parametric modeling, we go in detail through all tools for creation and modification of solids. Remember that as you make progress in the chapter you unlock practical exercises from the following chapter, and the book gives you a notification whenever this happens.

Chapter 4. Sketch and Solid practices – page 165

It contains all the practical exercises that you can make as you read through the former chapter. At beginning of the practice we tell you the tools that are going to be used, as well as the exercise statement or plans of what needs to be done. Try to do it on your own first. If you have doubts, you can always download the solved exercise from Marcombo website and of course follow the step by step solution in the book. But remember that with the number of tools Fusion 360 provides, there are many ways to make a design and the proposed solution may not be unique. In these practical exercises we design accessible examples: a hammer, a pawn, a clip, a bottle, a vase, a clothespin, a circular mechanical piece designed in three different ways, a microwave button control, a mug and finally we complete the clothespin with a spring.

Chapter 5. Assemblies and advanced construction – page 207

Unlike other CAD tools, Fusion 360 allows to build assemblies where the assembly definition and the parts sit in the same design. This gives a lot of flexibility when designing because you can build references directly between parts. In the chapter we first see the difference between Body and Component and how to reuse the last ones in other designs. After that we cover the different ways to make joints between components in an assembly, followed by a practice.

Chapter 6. Surface design – page 229

First goes a brief explanation of the difference between surfaces and solids and the effect of the common operations like Extrude, Revolve, etc. After that the specific operations of this mode are explained, with a practice at the end adding a cover for the pawn designed in a former practice.

Chapter 7. Free form design – page 251

Although this is not parametric design, and so there is no timeline, T-Splines from Form mode allow to make more organic forms than in the other modes seen up to now (within limitations of hard surface). It is however a poorly documented topic in general, so we gave it quite some space in the book and also having into account it counts with a significant number of tools and options within those. After treating the form creation and modification, we see symmetries and utilities. Since it is an environment with a lot of freedom of action, it is easy to create models with problems and this is why we included a section with designing recommendations.

Chapter 8. Surface and Free Form practices – page 321

Again, a full chapter with practical exercises from chapter 6 Surfaces and chapter 7 Free Forms. As done before, the practices have an increasing level that you unlock as you read through said chapters. Some examples may seem a bit absurd, because they do not relate to real objects, but this is made on purpose to ensure knowledge acquisition from the beginning, with few tools. In the Surface practices we make: some blades, a candy cane, a mouse cover, a fan, and a house with roof. The practices with T-Splines include: a simplified hair dryer, a spoon, a plane, and the former hair dryer improved.

Chapter 9. Add-ins and App Store – page 365

Add-ins are small applications or scripts that allow to add functionality to Fusion 360. In this chapter we explain the Fusion 360 App Store, and some add-ins recommendations: Slicer for Fusion 360 (the old 123D Make), FM Gears for gear generation, Sketch Checker to find where is the problematic curve in open profiles, and MapBoards for woodworking.

Chapter 10. Design for 3D Printing and Mesh – page 377

Fusion 360 is popular among the maker community, thanks to its free license for hobby use. I also started like this. That’s why I built a chapter dedicated to 3D Printing and Mesh handling (STL and OBJ). In the chapter we cover different considerations to take into account when designing for 3D printing, and after this the Mesh environment to handle STLs in a limited form and convert them to BREP solids.

Chapter 11. Manufacture – page 389

This chapter covers briefly the numerical control fabrication options. Having the right postprocessor for your machine (CNC router, lathe, laser, water and plasma cutter) you can generate specific toolpaths for your machine and the according gcode. The advantage is that this workspace is integrated with the rest of workspaces in the app and you can make design changes and recalculate them easily. The chapter is basically a practical exercise that shows the steps to manufacture an example piece.

Chapter 12. Animation – page 405

The workspace Animation is very limited, and does not even take into account the constraints created by joints in assemblies. The only interesting part is the availability to create exploding animations. For the rest it is just about recording in an animation the unrestricted movement of any component as well as camera moves. You can later export as a video but it is not photorealistic, so it has few pages due to its low utility.

Chapter 13. Render – page 413

Render is also somehow limited in its functionality, but it can be enough to show a photorealistic design. We also explain tricks to give a more realistic touch for example by adding extra lights (by default there is only one light source or light coming from an HDRI) and add wear and dirt by editing textures or applying decals.

Chapter 14. Sheet Metal – page 431

This is very specific for engineering applications, although you could also create cardboard boxes for example. Sheet Metal allows to create solids as sheets of metal, apply operations to simulate bends and create flanges and edit these objects either folded or unfolded.

Chapter 15. Simulation – page 441

Simulations are a center piece of a CAE environment, and Fusion 360 offers several types of studies. In this chapter we show two examples as a guide practice to get familiar with the setup steps needed to launch a study.

Chapter 16. 2D Drawing – page 457

Short chapter explaining how to create plans with 2D Drawing workspace.

Chapter 17. Generative Design – page 465

Generative Design is nowadays the flagship value adding tool of Fusion 360. The chapter is mainly a practical exercise that allows us to see all steps needed to setup a study, and the options to visualize and analyze results to choose the solution that is more convenient for the user within those solutions that meet established requirements.

Where to buy the book

“Fusion 360 con ejemplos y ejercicios prácticos” is available for online purchase at the publisher Marcombo and in main bookstores such as la Casa del Libro, FNAC and El Corte Inglés and up to 150 bookstores in Spain.

Since April 2020 the book is also available in ebook format

There is distribution in Latam but I do not have much information yet. I am sharing the links I am aware of. Note the paper book there will be in Black & White.