Autodesk Fusion 360 provides several free licenses in addition to the commercial one. In this article we explore all options and differences between them. As the license policy changes over time, I will be updating this information. You have review date below.
Updated on May 20th, 2020
There is quite a mess on the Internet with the information from youtubers and others provided in terms of recommendations of which license to use. Particularly when the intent is to use Fusion 360 for free. Let’s get into details.
Fusion 360 license types
At article update date, the available licenses are as follows:
- Free Trial: the first 30 days until you choose the final license. You have all features during this period.
- Commercial: if you perform a commercial activity that does not fall into the Startup category.
- Startup: for startups, firms with less than three years that have less than 100 000 $ yearly income and less than 10 employees. They use Fusion 360 as a tool to develop their own physical product and are available to share their story with the Autodesk community. Not considered here consultancy and engineering services for third parties. More details on requirements are available at this link Startup license.
- Personal Use: it’s the option for hobby use. You can make up to 1000 $ yearly income from your hobby activity. It’s also valid to make YouTube videos, blogs and other web content. More details following this link Personal Use license.
- Education: for educational use either by teachers and students. From October 2019 on, Autodesk validates that the account email domain belongs to a school/university and if it’s not the case restricts access to some functions , for example I know this is applied to Generative Design. More details about this license following this link Education license.
In octubre de 2019 Autodesk modified license types, it may happen that you are still using Startup/Hobby license that disappeared at that point, but when the annual renewal comes you will have to decide for one of the licenses described above.
In the table below we include only the differences between licenses, for the rest of features consider that they are available for all of them.
|Renewal||1 year||1 year||1 year||3 years with no automatic renewal*|
|Generative Design||Yes||Yes||Yes||Only if your email account belongs to an education institution.|
|Import CAD formats (SolidWorks, Inventor, Catia, etc)||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Cloud Simulations||Using Cloud Credits||Usingo Cloud Credits||Usingo Cloud Credits||Free up to a limit of credits|
You have full details in this Knowledge Network article.
Note1: Personal Use license allows exchange formats STEP and IGES, so it is possible to bring designs from other CAD applications using these formats (but obviously more cumbersome).
Note2: some simulations can be run locally while Structural Buckling, Nonlinear Static Stress, Event Simulation and Shape Optimization must be run in the cloud consuming 5 to 15 cloud credits per study (the price of 1 cloud credit is slightly over one Euro). You can find more details about Local and Cloud simulations in this article.
Note3: the Education license has no automatic renewal after three years, so it forces you to change of account and export all your designs to import them afterwards in your new account. For entitled students and teachers there is a manual renewal process following this form. It is unclear, as seen in this case and this other case in Autodesk forum in 2019, if there is such a process. The support answer is that it is not technically possible to renew after three years and they recommend to register with a different email (but Generative Design filters that email belongs to an education institution, as if you could get many of those emails). I don’t have reliable information whether this has changed or not afterwards.
Which license to use
It depends on your needs and intended use. If you use the tool for professional services you logically should use the commercial license, unless your company can fit in Startup requirements (there is a form to fill in and Autodesk validates the request).
If it is not commercial use and you look for a free license, the correct one would be Personal Use. But if you find that you need to run simulations or import CAD native format files you may be exploring the Education license (having in mind it is only for three years maximum).
Have in mind that up to October 2019 Autodesk was flexible with the Education licenses and people were registering with this license type by choosing a random university with a personal email of gmail or hotmail type. These cases can’t access Generative Design as I was stating on the license types section, and I don’t know if this can get worse in the future.
In my case, I use a commercial license that I purchased during the October 2019 license changes, benefiting from a campaign offering discount for life. My case is clear because I provide 3D modeling services and I also receive CAD format files to 3D print, in addition to the Fusion 360 online courses I provide. In addition I use Fusion 360 to design customized objects and program my CNC router to fulfill woodwork requests that we get through Artecitos online shop.
How to download Fusion 360
In Spain it’s a bit tricky because if you go to the Spanish page it only shows the commercial version. The easiest way is to search in google for “fusion 360 free trial” and the first result will bring you to the page where you choose the license you want. It’s this download page anyway, but if for any reason the page changes remember to use the search to find the new one.
Once you click on the license you want, it’s just a question of signing up with an email and follow the usual sign-up steps. After that software will download. Have in mind it is only available for Windows and Mac.
I have no link at all with Autodesk and I do not have privileged information from them. The opinions provided here are only mine and based on the information that Autodesk has communicated or what we could check the app is effectively doing thanks to several users from the Spanish Fusion 360 Telegram channel.
On the other hand, I wrote the book “Fusion 360 con ejemplos y ejercicios prácticos“, first book in Spanish about Fusion 360 published early in 2020 and this made me get into details with these license differences. I also provide in-person and online training courses and online and in-person private lessons about all areas of the tool.
Fusion 360 online course
If you are looking for a Fusion 360 online course in Spanish to start from scratch, since April 2020 you have one available in my site.