Local Simulation Feature To Be Removed From All Autodesk Fusion 360 Versions

Fusion 360 Logo

The removal of features from Autodesk products would appear to be turning into something of a routine at this point, with the announced removal of local simulations the latest in this series. Previously Autodesk had severely cut down the features available with a Personal Use license, but these latest changes (effective September 6) affect even paying customers, no matter which tier.

While previously executed local simulations on designs will remain accessible, any updates to these simulations, as well as any new simulations will have to use Autodesk’s cloud-based solver. This includes the linear stress, modal frequencies, thermal, and thermal stress simulation types, with each type of simulation study costing a number of Cloud Tokens.

Solving a linear simulation should initially cost 0 tokens, but the other types between 3 – 6 tokens, with the exact cost per token likely to vary per region. This means that instead of solving simulations for free on one’s own hardware, the only option in a matter of weeks will be solely through Autodesk’s cloud-based offerings.

Naturally, we can see this change going over exceedingly well with Fusion 360 users and we’re looking forward to seeing how Autodesk will spin the inevitable backlash.

(Thanks, [Jeremy Herbert] for the tip)

180 thoughts on “Local Simulation Feature To Be Removed From All Autodesk Fusion 360 Versions

    1. The more they try to milk their users the more they become vulnerable to a competing platform that is more sustainable for the end user. What is really harious is that there is no way that in terms of end game, this will not hurt them. Greedy notches salivating over how much that can squeeze us for every penny

      1. What is the competing platform? Solidworks? Fusion is just really fast and efficient for me to use, I’d love an alternative that is as slick, but solidworks is much less user friendly. Other software I’ve tried is likewise difficult or less feature rich.

        1. From what I’ve seen and others reports on switching between them Solidworks is if anything better than Fusion but they are most certainly on a par for usability and speed. Its just different, and different always feels wrong to start with.

          See the same thing when folks say first try a steam controller or trackball mouse from a ‘normal’ one – its not that either is inferior, arguably both are actually superior* to the more common versions, it just takes time to learn how and override the years/decades of incorrect for the new tool reactions.

          *In the steam controllers case its able if you put the time in be as good or better as any other input method for damn nearly every game out there – way more universal than a KB/mouse normal gamepad, and even makes a pretty slick ‘keyboard’. But the learning curve and tinker time you can end up putting into the controller setup to really get the best out of it is significant. For trackballs if your only experience is a cheap one you are likely going to hate ’em as the cheap ones are just not smooth to use – still worth having for your laptop or small desk in the server room as its way better when you can’t have enough mouse mat. But when a cheap normal mouse is almost as good as the most premium one its easy to be disappointed as there is a much bigger gulf with trackballs (and you have to learn how to use whichever of the thumb/finger ball layout and learn again if you ever change, some layouts really are not ambidextrous or readily transferable to others etc)…

    1. The excellent Linus Tech Tips YouTube channel did a video where they tried an alternative to their expensive Adobe subscription and found that the alternatives aren’t as good and the extra labor cost involved outweighed any savings from not paying Adobe.

      I can imagine many of the shops using Autodesk software would be in the same boat where the cost involved in switching to a competitor (including the extra cost in lost productivity etc as everyone has to adapt to the new software) outweighs the cost of just continuing to pay Autodesk for a subscription.

      1. That’s the thing I struggle with as well. It’s all good to say “don’t use extortion-ware”, but if there’s no viable alternatives…

        If anything does want to be a serious competitor, it needs to be:
        – Easy/straightforward to learn
        – Have a strong community for help
        – Be powerful. People aren’t going to accept less features.

        So far I haven’t seen anything that comes close to what Fusion 360 has, in terms of features and usability.

          1. @Bastet – I’d love to see HaD do a survey of readers and which EDA suite they use today vs which one they used X-years ago before Eagle went subscription.

        1. I e been in the design industry for over 30years and seen this happen several times with different EDA & MCAD software. The result is, companies look to cut cyst and streamline process, which in turn they end up migrating to a new set of tools. Seems to happen about every 7-10 years.

        2. When your pay to keep playing ransomware that Autodesk seems to be now is ripping features out you may have to accept some changes..

          And straightforward and easy is true of most software, at least when you come into it without deeply ingrained incorrect expectations from your previous software choice. If its just a clone of the old software UI and all legal trouble is certain, and sometimes the alternatives are actually massively better at doing the job efficiently. But only once you figure out how to make them work.

          For instance I’d argue in CAD packages FreeCad is right up there on all counts – but its not the same as autodesk, and as folks going to/from other solid competitors like solidworks repeatedly say ‘I don’t like it’ to start with, entirely because its not what they are used to..

        3. We switched from fusion to Onshape a couple years ago. It was pretty good back then is only getting better now. Customer service is excellent. I miss the Swiss army knife of local features in fusion (local rendering is still better than any other cad application I’ve used) but onshape is catching up pretty quickly there too. At least with onshape you know the model you’re buying into. The collaborative aspects were what really sold us on it.

      2. i tried to switch from an old version of photoshop and gimp when it stop working on newer versions of windows. now im not as good at the latter and i forgot how to use the former.

        1. I went with Capture 1. It has a option for perpetual license. After LR went subscription only, I gave it up. Affinity has several programs that replace adobe ones as well for $50 a pop, and regularly go on sale in the $30 range. All of these programs stand toe to toe with Adobe products.

          1. Eh, not entirely. I shitcanned Adobe’s rip-off and bought Affinity Photo and Designer years ago. Photo degrades (blurs) images because it erroneously resamples layers while you work, and they both suffer from baffling UI-design gaffes. Then they’re missing basic functions, which Affinity refuses to address. Example: You can’t resize the selection marquee. WTF?

      3. I didn’t watch that video, but there are alternatives to Adobe software, that are very good and fully-featured. But they require relearning quite a bit. I switched to DaVinci Resolve, never used Lightroom, preferring RAWTherapee, I like Audacity, and GIMP is almost as good as Photoshop for almost all things I do. For someone who earns money with Adobe software it would be just too expensive to switch over and relearn everything. But these people can afford to pay for it.

        There are no alternatives to Fusion 360. Most CAD/CAM software is too expensive for hobbyists. One could obtain “alternative” licenses. Neither Adobe nor Autodesk minds that, as long as one is not making any profit. The idea being that one learns with that alternative license, but if one wants to earn money, one needs to buy genuine software. This is “Software as an entry drug”. Microsoft used this tactic with great success, as everyone uses Windows, so every company must pay for it.

        Alternatives like FreeCAD or OpenSCAD are user-hateful by (bad) design. It doesn’t make them bad, but it makes very hard to switch over, or even to learn them. I actually tried to use FreeCAD a few times. I’m back, working with Fusion 360. It’s just designed much better and is easier to use…

        1. I must disagree about OpenSCAD. I have tried many 3d programs including Freecad and Fusion 360. After spending time and effort on these I invariably give up an go back to OpenSCAD, like a comfortable pair of old shoes. Also, since I have tried using the amazing BOSL2 libraries I feel even less need for anything else. The native language is often criticised but as a DSL i much prefer it to javascript and python ports.

          Sometimes I use solvespace to convert measurements into useful dimensions and then port them into openscad. I use OpenSCAD for 3D printing.

          1. I use OpenSCAD a lot currently. (for 3d printing) But it’s only a matter of time before I switch away. I really like the ideas of parametric design and re-usable libraries. I guess I see the designs I make more as programs themselves, which should present the end user with a UI where they can chose sizes, pick among alternatives of vitamins, etc… then it generates the actual STL or 3mf.

            OpenSCAD’s unfortunate insistence on being a mere descriptive language and not a real programming language keeps getting in my way time and time again. I know they do this in order to attempt to be easier to learn (and thus easier to switch to). But what’s the point of learning something easy when you are just going to outgrow it and have to start over with something more advanced?

            I’ll probably be giving JSCad a serious try one of these days. Even it doesn’t do quite everything I want but it’s a lot closer and they seem much more amenable to contributions. I was never a big fan of JavaScript though and will have to seriously brush up on it before I can give it a real go. And I have other things on my list to study first so I make do with OpenSCAD for the immediate future. ES6 seems to address a lot of my previous aversions to JS though so long term it might work out.

            There’s also an Angelscript based CAD that I can’t remember the name of right now. It looked promising the last I checked it out. I’m not sure anyone is actually out there using it and I don’t want to invest too much time in something that might just go away.

          2. You probably know that, but not everybody reading here: FreeCAD can be programmed in Python. A whole CAD project can be just a Python program. With all bells and whistles, e.g. you can have parameters in a database and access it via Python, then use the parameters for your CAD project etc.

            I believe, that Blender has this feaure, too.

        2. FreeCAD almost works like ye olde AutoCAD Inventor and that’s what i learned back in school. I needed eight hours for my first thing after not having touched any non-electronic CAD tool for almost 18 years, a holder with frontplate for a SD2IDE adapter that fits in a 3½” bay.

        3. FreeCAD is really quite easy to use, its just different enough you actually have to learn how to use it – same as any tool change no matter how similar there is a learning curve.

          And OpenSCAD is far from user-hateful by bad design, its perhaps the most elegant and well designed CAD package out there, superbly designed to be functional as what it is. Doesn’t mean it will suit everyone, or be the best tool for every possible task, but if you know how to use it its often the best tool for anything that is seriously parametric. (All said as somebody who doesn’t actually use OpenSCAD much, as I’ve never learned it well enough to just write out what I want – so I’m rather slow with it.)

          1. OpenSCAD is fine for what it is(I assume, I don’t use it), but it’s not a CAD. It doesn’t really aid you in design.

            It’s a language for describing a design that is already in your head. You basically design and compile that design to CSG blocks yourself and then type it.

            It doesn’t allow you to easily work with geometry you couldn’t work with mentally, wheras traditional CAD is almost like an extension of your mind and the actual thinking becomes partly on the screen.

          2. @eternityforest

            >OpenSCAD is fine for what it is(I assume, I don’t use it), but it’s not a CAD.

            ‘fraid I can’t agree there – Its a CAD package as it creates digital designs to your specification that you can then do whatever you like with.

            Plus ultimately to use the GUI cad properly you still need to spend that time with a ‘pad of paper’ sketching to figure out the important feature relationships and order of operations to create a stable design – yes you can bodge stuff together and have it work but as soon as you change a detail here you end up chasing the knock on effects of that change through every other dimension of that part and every other related part if you don’t assemble your CAD model correctly in the first place.

      4. Not to sound like an ad for Adobe (and I do hate the fact that they effectively have a monopoly), I have to say as a long term Adobe user (25+ years, since Photoshop 2!) their subscription model is actually pretty good. For ~$650 a year I get access to their full catalog of apps, fonts, cloud storage, etc. for a total annual cost less than what one single app used to cost, with perpetual and automatic updates built in. If you’re using at least 2 apps on a regular basis it’s much cheaper than the old model.

        And the system itself is very good—I don’t do much video work but when I occasionally do I can just install the extra apps as I need them, then uninstall when I’m done.

        And yes like the Tech Tip video found the costs of switching are high, both in immediate retraining and ongoing efficiency losses because alternatives aren’t as good and/or don’t interoperate as well as Adobe’s ecosystem. I’ve tried alternatives several times but it really is the best solution out there.

        1. “Not to sound like an ad for Adobe (and I do hate the fact that they effectively have a monopoly)”

          For reasons listed their customers placed them there and it all revolves around money. Who has it, and who needs it, and the balance between the two.

      5. So basically switch to blender because it is free and does most of what fusion does? I think there is a true alternative out there depending on what you are doing. A $99 license for solidworks is another ave that is available. If you want access to all that solidworks offers join the EAA and get it for 99 as well. I teach additive manufacturing, autocad user and professional cert, osha courses and more at the local college. There are always alternatives.

    2. Competition? Many of these industries are clear monopolies or duopolies—at the very least, they have clear coordination among actors to make sure that they all move in the same monopolistic direction. Antitrust in this country is an absolute joke.

    3. Their competition is dassault system solidworks. Fusion 360 isn’t really meant for the hobbiest. If you dig into the opaque pricing for solidworks an okay license is almost 4000$ a year. The proper Enterprise suite is just under 8000$.
      Asking for 500$ compared to thousands for solid works isa pretty good deal I think.
      I wish it was cheaper too, but honestly developing decent software means paying for competent devs. You get what you pay for.

      1. One other option, in the same vein as Solid Works is Solid Edge, a true enterprise level alternative. It has all the same features, uses a lot of the same plug ins (like the FLOEFD flow visualisation package) and is all installed locally, so you have the software forever and there is a free hobbyist level which locks out a few of the simulation levels and locks the files created to only being able to open in the hobbyist version.

        The only downside is it is a bit tricky to find support when you get stuck, there just isn’t enough people using it.

        When the last Fusion360 changes happened I moved over to Solid Edge, there is (as always) a learning curve and it took me probably a (hobbyist) month worth of effort to feel comfortable with the package, but there is no way I would move back to Fusion360 now.

      2. Solidworks has a hobbyists licence for around 100$/year. It is perfect for me, as I don’t want to relearn everything with a new tool.
        File are tagged as hobbyist licenced, but I’m good with that.

    1. I read this as “hardware as a service, on your hardware”. You could have a very powerful and capable machine, yet have to pay to run your simulations on their “cloud” hardware.

  1. Corporate bloodsucking at it’s finest.

    You can bet your behind they will make even the online version refuse to run if you have competing software installed as soon as it is technically viable.

  2. > This means that instead of solving simulations for free on one’s own hardware, the only option in a matter of weeks will be solely through Autodesk’s cloud-based offerings.

    It’s only me, who clearly see an attempt to implement a system of industrial espionage at enormous scale? Your phone contacts, messages, documents and private photos are not enough for BigBrother already, it wants to stole and control your ideas and developments too.

  3. And yet, people wonder why I don’t use Fusion 360. Besides living in an area where the quality of my net connection forces me to buy standalone programs, having my work and livelihood held hostage to corporate decisions like this really doesn’t give me an incentive to subscribe…

      1. For light 3d printing etc. FreeCad is ‘good enough’.

        The biggest problem I had was the obsolete docs and help online. Had me on the verge of uninstalling. Beware un-versioned docs. They’re flat wrong.
        Once I figured out that out, it did what I needed to design parts for printing.

        Hint: ‘Part’ workbench…not ‘Part Design’.

        Of course if you need finite element deformation, you won’t be happy with it.

        I’ve been using various CAD tools all the way back to Autocad for DOS. They’re all _tedious_, none are worse than Blender…spit.
        Never been an expert at any of them. Just tools I pick up and use for a specific project here and there.
        Also: Dating self, actually took a couple of semesters of _drafting_ at Jr College while in HS.

        1. I’ve used Autodesk and Solidworks at work for years before switching careers. At home for personal projects, I initially thought I’d get Fusion 360. Took one look at their subscription model and said “nope”.

          FreeCad has been perfect for me. Sure it has a steep learning curve, but it gets the job done.

          1. I don’t have a spare $50,000,000 to get the project started. Writing professional grade CADCAM is very involved and expensive; most people seem to drastically underestimate that.

        1. Yes. And in comparison to alternatives like Inventor, NX, Solidworks, MasterCAM, etc. that do what Fusion does, you can’t beat Fusion’s price.

          The manufacturer I used to work for had to pay $10,000 for MasterCAM and then the subscription cost was on top of that. Which was why in 2016 we were either hand coding G Code or using a shared cracked version from 2003. We made gears and gear housings, so it was a simple enough product we could still hand code.

          1. We’re using a cracked version of Inventor 2015 here a work still. Boss keeps wanting to upgrade but doesn’t want to go subscription only to upgrade to Inventor (although we’d get the manufacturing collection to have Fusion for CAM too) but the other option is switch to Solidworks but then out thousands of parts, assemblies, etc will all need to be redone one by one just to get everything swapped.

        1. Sketchup is terrible. There’s no history tree. Undoing things is a NIGHTMARE. I started my CAD learning with SU. Started working with Inventor at my current job ~7 years ago and WOW what a difference.

          I wouldn’t recommend SU to my worst enemy.

      2. OnShape is free, the “rub” is that your designs are open to the public. Personally I have used OnShape from pretty much day one for 3D printing and woodworking designs and I can’t recommend it enough. There’s a learning curve as with everything but there’s, in my opinion, a good community for support.

        1. I foresee Onshape going down the path of Autodesk. It’s just newer so they haven’t had the time to build up their userbase before they start tweaking the feature set to maximize profit.

      3. Siemens SolidEdge has a community edition that gets no love or mention. More than good enough for 3d printing. Also the BEST at handling imported models – “synchronous technology” will change how you work in CAD for the better, one you *get* it.

        1. Oh, interesting.
          I am not really a CAD user, but a friend used the commercial version for work and I really liked how intuitive and powerful it was.
          I am going to give it a try. Thanks for the heads-up.

  4. I can’t express how disappointed I am with these decisions. 4 years ago (after using the free version of F360) I made the decision to transition our entire design office from Solidworks to Fusion. At the time it was a significantly cheaper and more user-friendly option. Cut to now and the constant price increases, the release of updates as separate paid add-ons, and the removal of actual useful features has me looking elsewhere. I’m struggling to understand how a business can treat their paying customers this way.

  5. A good alternative for hobby users is Solidworks which is reasonably priced at US$99 per year. Bit of a steeper learning curve but at least your work won’t be dying the death of a thousand cuts.

      1. Yes, sadly there’s no good (professional grade) CADCAM for Linux these days. That market is too small to support the necessary development expense. A couple companies tried it for a while, but have dropped it.

        For me, professional grade CADCAM is a necessity, so Linux is not an option.

          1. Are you sure about that? I don’t just mean CAD, I mean CAM. NX used to do Linux, but dropped it. Esprit, Top Solid, and Mastercam, which appear to be the most capable CAM packages, are Windows only. And you’re looking at more like $25k for five axis milling.

      2. I’m not sure there is a difference. I actually took time out of my life reading the Win 10 EULA and Privacy statement. Essentially, anything you do on a Win 10 computer is available for Microsoft to monitor/copy/sell.

        I guess a cloud application could have security and not want ownership of my stuff but I hated the concept of subscriptionware back in the ’80’s and my opinion hasn’t changed.

  6. I was just thiiiis close to buying a personal license of F360 because my work-provided copy is about to fall under different rules where they don’t want me using it for personal stuff. And I just didn’t want to relearn everything in FreeCAD.

    Welp, looks like I’m gonna learn FreeCAD and I’m gonna enjoy it because I have a strong sense of defiance. And that $495 can go straight to FreeCAD’s donation account.

      1. At least don’t donate and expect causal changes. Unlike KiCAD, FreeCAD doesn’t have a for-hire dev team I know of which you can use to have the features you need added to the project.

  7. Mind you, a token is $3/piece. You can only buy them in packs of 500 and higher, and they expire in a year’s time. Something that I’ve noticed is that you used to be able to buy 100 tokens, but they removed that option some time ago, too.

  8. This is really too bad.
    I too was thinking of getting a subscription recently, but I’m glad I have held off.

    I hear that Solidworks for hobby use is available for $99. I’ll have to look into that a bit more

    1. I’ve been using SOLIDWORKS for a few years now, considering how bad Fusion has gotten. On a good HEDT (Threadripper, 96GB RAM and Radeon Pro WX cards), it Fusion 360 would frequently stall, and often lock completely… wiping out whatever I had just worked on. Dassault isn’t much better than Autodesk, but at least SOLIDWORKS… works.

      Learning curve isn’t that bad, and I find SOLIDWORKS to be a little more intuitive once you get the basics out of the way.

      Side note: I bought a 3DConnexion SpaceMouse Wireless thinking it would be a gimmick, just a fun toy. I cannot stress how important a tool it has become, especially for these kinds of workflows. Works beautifully in SOLIDWORKS, too.

      1. Yes. It is irritating when free or cheap software gets expensive, especially when you have spent a lot of time and effort learning how to use it. I would probably be using F360 more and teaching students how to use it more, if AD had not changed their policy for hobby and student users. My son had his cloud-stored designs essentially “stolen” by AD when that happened, because he had to switch from his newly unfree personal account to his free .edu account.

        CAM had never been free until F360, so no one should have been complaining much when it went back to being unfree.
        But I am a big fan of charge-me-when-I-use-it, instead of the subscription model. Same with gym memberships… I begrudgingly continue my Adobe subscription. I could never afford their license fees before that.

        As for the simulations that AutoDesk is now trying to monetize, these look, to my eyes, like advanced features that are used mostly by professionals. They are features that mechanical engineers “would die for” as late as the mid-1990s. Is the causal hobbyists really using them? AD is basically saying it will cost you $1,500 to use professional features.

        Did I miss something here? If you use these newly monetized features, what is your case that these should be free?

        As for free CAD, I’ve never seen any excellent ones. And certainly not with multi-axis CAM. It takes the labor of love of multiple competent engineers AND usability people AND testers to build excellent software. Oh, and SAAS is a big win. “Clouds” don’t run for free.

        But yes, I get annoyed too when I “climb the learning curve” and then find an unexpected “tool booth” at the top of the hill.

  9. This should be 100% expected when you use software with a mandatory internet connection and revokable-at-any-time license. Whos expecting a big business to NOT extort their users for profit once they’ve achieved a dominant market position?

    1. Exactly, anyone who blithely went along with the whole online-only software model without expecting them to: A) slowly remove features and B) increase costs is a little naive. Once you’re locked into that type of licensing agreement there’s really no incentive for these companies to improve quality or empower customers when they can depend on all that money for literally renting their software, regardless of how poorly-maintained or crippled it becomes.

  10. Honestly don’t waste your time learning commercial software. It’s literally never worthwhile unless an employer requires it.

    There’s plenty of open source CAD software that could’ve been covered in this article instead of giving more air to a commercial product. I would like HaD writers to be more focused on solutions instead of banging out an article that’s just a gripe.

    Literally how do you not mention alternatives in the article and consider the article finished and ready to be published?

    1. You must not do much cad. The free cad packages are FAR behind Solidworks and Fusion 360. I wish that wasn’t true but it’s just a fact. I use gimp, libre office and many other fos alternatives to popular software, but the free cad programs I’ve tried offer no comparison.

      1. FreeCAD is comparable to GIMP.

        It doesn’t support lots of (or any) advanced analysis. But if all you need to do is design a shape it’s ‘good enough’.

        Beware obsolete docs for old versions. They are flat wrong, still everywhere and not versioned.

        1. No, FreeCAD is not comparable to GIMP. GIMP may lack some whiz-bang features of Photoshop but it absolutely works for everything I need and a lot more. FreeCAD is barely usable. It satisfies my needs but only just, and it has a lot of random-seeming bugs to work around, in contrast with GIMP’s rock-solid stability. FreeCAD has come a long way but feels very unfinished. It needs an injection of money and talent like KiCAD received to make it viable for most CAD uses.

          Contrast Blender, which is comparable to its proprietary rivals for modeling and rendering, or LibreOffice, which is actually better than MS Office.

          The way I see it, there is a kind of tier list of Free Software replacements for proprietary software, where you have e.g:

          1. Satisfies daily needs but lacks some advanced features: Desktop Linux, Inkscape, GIMP, KiCAD
          2. Fully comparable to proprietary rivals, may lack some features but also has features they lack: Blender
          3. Excels the proprietary rivals in most aspects: Server Linux, Open Source web server stacks

          1. We’re just going to have to disagree.

            Blender _sucks_balls_ in every possible way. Just unusable steaming pile of hubris. What drugs were the UI ‘designers’ on? Quote: ‘Lets make our own broken versions of file open dialogs…that will add value.’ Enthusiastic Blender users have Stockholm syndrome.

            Have you used FreeCAD since version 5?

      2. I do enough to know when an article is published halfway done. If you don’t even mention anything about alternatives (even disparagingly) you haven’t finished writing and need to continue.

    2. Plenty of open-source CAD-software? No, there ain’t. There are a few and they’re absolutely horrendous to use. I just recently tried Freecad and Jesus Christ it was god-awful!

      I want to get stuff done, not fight with craptastic software, so I’m sticking with Fusion 360 for the foreseeable future.

      1. I get stuff done with it fine. I understand it’s not as friendly, but they don’t take away features you come to rely on. I’d rather have that sort of platform stability than any other feature.

    3. I would agree with you if the open source CAD software was actually usable. It is emphatically NOT. FreeCAD sucks, openSCAD is terrible to use (Who in their right minds want’s to type that much when in a proper CAD program it’s probably a matter of 3 clicks and typing a number)

      1. Depends on what you want to make – if you get good at it openSCAD is by far the fastest method to make many more complex and highly parametric objects, but if all you need is a few things in vaguely the right place as a one off the GUI Cad options are very hard to beat.

        Also personally I like FreeCAD, learn how to use it and it does most everything very well. Yes its not solidworks level of well polished features but its got damn good.

        1. OpenScad is not the fastest way to make parametric anything or complex parts. If it was every Profesional/Working Engineer would be using it in the day job were time is money. OpenSCAD is what what a computer programmer thinks CAD should be not what users who actually use CAD for a living want.

          Also all major CAD applications have an API for doing anything programmatically. So what ever supposed benefits openscad has over traditionally workflows is not really a thing since you do that with the API.

          Worse is OpenSCAD will not export your work into anything usable in other packages, like a step file. Collaboration across different applications is an important thing. Try sending your openscad files to a machine shop to be manufactured and watch how quickly they no quote you.

          1. Didn’t say it was the best for everything, or even the only method for more programmatic construction – I said the method is far quicker than the GUI methods for those situations. I would argue its probably the best programmatic CAD, as that is all it does and a dedicated tool tends to do the job its for rather better than the multitool’s usually rather half arsed attempt to implement all its features.

            Also even if openScad was 300x faster than the program they usually use the ‘pro’ would stick with the usual program, as its the one they know, they likely get paid by the hour anyway and retraining time is nothing but an upfront cost to them/their employer. So unless all you ever do would gain from using the more programmatic methods or library of effortlessly reusable parametric parts you would build up. Which when most CAD designers seem to spend all their time making more bespoke one off ‘sexy’ looks are more important than function things…

            Also recentish versions of OpenSCAD do have the ability to output a variety of formats that most other programs should be fine with… Don’t think they do STEP files however.

          2. Pro’s do not get paid by the hour in most cases or at least I am not. So if there were a way to get it done faster we would be all over that, openscad is not faster and it limitations are tremendous. l have written models in the API for both aerospace and automotive industries and OpenSCAD would not have cut it or been quicker than commercial CAD packages whether you use the gui or the type it all up.

            OpenSCAD is what it is and that is simply a computer programmers experiment in making CAD application so he could use his 3d printer.

  11. As someone who has used these different software for decades f360 is a truckload of value for the money. A free year for startups, free non commercial licenses. The CAM package in itself is the biggest game changer for any small manufacturing company in the last twenty years. It’s watered down inventor, but unless your an engineer your not using it to it’s full potential anyways. Trust me, this is the biggest improvement in decades for any type of maker. Your getting $3k a year software for free …

  12. Here’s a little storry.
    I’ve been using Eagle cad for more that 8 years. I Loved the idea that Autodesk buys it. Eagle needed some modernization in my opinion. Now I’m using Altium, since I can’t stand what Eagle became.
    I’ve been using Fusion 360 for 5 years, and i loved it (I still love it), but over the years I started to lose hope for all Autodesk products. Fortunately in contrast to Adobe’s multimedia suit, there is hope to find viable free/open alternatives.

    I’ve done some searching and two interesting alternatives popped up SelfCAD and TurboCAD. Does anyone have experience with these programs?

  13. It’s interesting to read all the rationalizations put forward here to “justify” being treated like that.

    Whoever hasn’t jumped ship at this point doesn’t deserve any pity. You seem to like it.

  14. My first job involved writing AutoLISP for an experimental 3D printer at the national labs. In the past 10-12 years, nothing has slowed down my personal progress in engineering design than learning Inventor, then Fusion 360 intimately, only to have to go back to more economical solutions.

    Let’s face it, OpenSCAD and FreeCAD are killer, but they aren’t solidworks. It’s still a gaping hole in the DIY zeitgeist. Patience will fix it, but I’m done with depending on products that can literally change my work retrospectively.

  15. – OpenSCAD can’t reference drawn geometries like faces, edges, vertexes. You can’t tell it things like: Start drawing in the middle of the leftmost edge of a plane which is parallel with XY and has second highest Z coordinate from following things…

    – FreeCAD is even worse. There is absolutely no concept of reusing a same part just with different parameters… You can have a girder or a nut or a lego brick, they can be parametric, but you can’t have multiple instances with different parameters.

  16. It’s this sort of behaviour that inspires people to write exporters and converters for eagle and autodesk products, to provide a ladder for escapees from the walled off information commons.

  17. For most hobbyists Solid Edge maker edition provides everything one needs for free. Just fill out a form and download the installer. No online activations of licenses, cloud or other annoying stuff.

  18. Frustrating, I wonder when they will remove the option to render locally.

    As an EEE that needs good MCAD integration though my hands a bit tied. I’d love to use Altium with the Solidworks MCAD integration but I can’t afford it and from what I’ve seen the integration isn’t quite as simple.

    Wonder if they are angling towards making a fully featured mobile version, hence removing all the CPU heavy tasks.

  19. I have agree. The trend with commercial software seems to be towards minimal improvements and maximal price increases, along with transitioning to the rental SAAS model. While I readily admit that free/open software is not as good as commercial offerings, there’s less risk that someone in a corporate office somewhere will suddenly decide to do something that ruins your day.

    That’s not to say that FOSS is worry-free, but the trend I see is to improve it so it’s at least in the ring with the commercial offerings. I offer KiCAD, GIMP, LibreOffice as examples. The problem is often resources (both human and financial) required to continue development. I don’t have an answer, but I do try to support independent software when I can.

    And, yes, I’m a Linux user.

  20. I used to work at a company which is an Autodesk dealer, reseller, integrator and several other big words. I still have many friends working there. They tell me that for 10 years now the level of complaints has continued to rise at an exponential rate and that they are hemorrhaging customers. I used to be a fanboi of their products, now I refuse to use them due to all their shenanigans, despite the fact that I can get free licenses from my friends. Their CEOs are some of the highest paid in the entire software industry. Greed kills companies.

    1. WordStar got to thinking they were the only game in town for word processing *poof*
      WordPerfect got to thinking they were the only game in town for word processing *poof*

      Visicalc got to thinking they were the only game in town for spreadsheets *poof*
      Lotus 1-2-3 got to thinking they were the only game in town for spreadsheets *poof*

      dBase got to thinking they were the only game in town for databases *poof*

      … … …

  21. Solid Edge Community Edition from Siemens can’t be beat for a full-featured CAD solution for non-commercial users. 100% offline, no activation, never expires.

    If you’re interested in a paid solution, check out Alibre – I’ve not used it personally, but I hear a lot of good things about it. The banner on their website reads, “Buy it once, own it forever.”. They’ve got a current sale going for their highest tier product (Alibre Design Expert) at $1399.

    1. I keep hearing people talk about this and other design software as if it’s the same thing as CAD & especially CAM.

      Stop it.

      Employer uses Fusion 360 with a team of five axis capable machinists- and I want to be able to do this Machining at home but there are no free or affordable options that actually support real CAM. That’s the key to Fusion 360- IT HAS CAM. And even Fusion 360 completely sh*ts the bed when it comes to lathe users. I mean the interface for that is absolutely horrible and they make no effort to improve it.

      Those of you acting like there are all these alternatives are completely and utterly blind to the fact that almost no other software actually has CAM. If you make things for real like me as a machinist you need that in this day and age to actually get anything done. I can program something simple by hand but I can’t program 3D Milling toolpaths much less in 5-axis without software. No one can.

      If I hit the lottery tomorrow I would dump everything into freecad make it usable and give it real capability and fix it. But as it is we are stuck with Autodesk treating its customers worse than a disease like this and I saw this coming over a decade ago but there have been no real solutions to fix it since.

      I want someone to give me an alternative to Fusion 360 that actually has any CAM ability. Supposedly FreeCAD does but it’s supposed to be horrible. I just want to make things and not deal with this grief every time some person in a corporate office decides to squeeze more blood out of me.

      What would it take to get all of you people who actually know how to create software like this to pour your efforts into freecad something that works on every system and actually get it to do a good job? I know I’m not the only person who does CNC machining at home. There has to be a solution for people like me otherwise Autodesk is killing Manufacturing just as much as it’s invigorating it.

      Oh & btw Autodesk- your five axis capability sucks as well. Barrel cutters aren’t even supported I can’t take you completely seriously. If you really think that because someone is working at home that they don’t have the knowledge and capability of a major shop just in small scale you’re fooling yourself

      1. Yup your spot on dude, as I am myself a technical designer and a in house machinist I chose fusion not for cad (that I find horrible with them especially when it comes to assemblies and drawings even if they had some improvements ) but for cam and for the moment I was not able to hear about any alternative of the fusion cam package for a comparable price range… That is the only thing that maintains me using and paying this software.
        I’m still using solidworks for cad. I never had the flame on with fusion due to its very special manner to manage assies and its poor drws functions.
        Its really hard to love fusion cad when you come from solidworks, Catia or even pro eng.

      2. FreeCAD’s CAM is definitely usable for 2 or 2.5 axis. It’s marginally useable for 3 axis, with a lot of caveats. I like how the workflow for it is set up, and like a lot of the decisions they’ve made. It’s just really amazingly hard to do good 3+ axis CAM.

  22. This is going to be fun when old simulation results become part of a court case, and it is impossible to know if rerunning these simulations now will give you the same result as then!
    Might your design be found faulty now because of some new bug/feature in the current cloud simulator while it was valid with the, now no longer accessible, original simulator?

  23. No skin in this game … as I use FreeCad, KiCad, OpenScad as they meet my needs as a hobbyist. I don’t find it that hard to use for my simple use. I don’t trust the ‘cloud’ model for anything. Cloud services should be optional. All applications should be installed ‘locally’. All storage should be ‘local’. Cut your web connection and it should be business as usual. Otherwise, having applications/storage in the cloud you are ‘stuck’ with it. Pay for connection to web (almost a necessary expense any more ), pay up yearly for software subscription, pay up to keep your ‘storage’ ….otherwise you are locked out. I like the analogy above to drug addiction. Pay and pay well to get your fix. No, I’ll opt out, thank you… as much as I can.

  24. This is why people are choosing companies with better business policies and customer-first licensing. Alibre Atom3D has a ton of parametric 3D modeling and 2D drawings, a lifetime license, and is around $150. One time. It’s perfect for hobby use, and if you need more their business software has similar policies. It’s a no brianer for anyone doing 3D printing or light design work for personal projects.

    1. Had a quick glance at an Atom3D demonstration video. Calling it $150 is a “raspberry pi for $5” advertising trick if you ask me.
      In my neck of the woods, they’re asking 273,70 € for an Atom3D license, and then 60€ annually for updates.
      Only currently there’s a limited offer with 40% off to lure people into it.

      What I also don’t like about their portfolio is that they have Alibre Design for 1500 and 2500€ (for the Pro version) and will make sure Atom3D stays in its bounds. That is, they have a strong incentive to not make it too good.

      How much life do I have left to throw away by marrying another Crazy Corp to then watch them close the gates behind us and start shooting? I had this with A**desk twice now, I’m done.

      1. Sounds like you are in Europe. They have resellers there and those resellers set the price. Unfortunately there is nothing software companies can do about that. It’s called price fixing and it’s illegal. It’s still comparatively very cheap though for something you own.

        I wouldn’t assume Alibre Atom3D is bad just because they have higher tiers. Download it. Try it. Be surprised. It’s quite capable. Report back here with your findings.

  25. I wonder if the update leaves the code intact and simply switches it off. It may well be possible to re-enable the feature. It seems like a bit of a step back, just so they can monitor usage better perhaps. I guess the only solution for now is to disable the updates and make a good backup.

  26. Its wild that you might have paid for this feature when subscribing, where you can only subscribe for periods of a year or more, and they remove it from availability with merely a month of warning.

  27. Preface: I’m tooting my own horn, in hopes it would help others.

    This post inspired me to take a brief look at many of the alternatives mentioned here in comments. I wrote a summary of my findings: https://wejn.org/2022/08/moving-away-from-fusion-360/

    tl;dr: FreeCAD if “free” is a must, Atom3D if paid & windows ain’t a biggie. Otherwise Solid Edge looks very intriguing.

    But the post also links a few tutorial videos that are worth watching if you’re looking to switch… as they give a good feel for the options.

  28. Honestly I don’t really get all the F360 hate. The free personal license still offers an enormous wealth of functionality – I really don’t mind having only 10 projects editable at a time, it’s easy to switch these.

    All the simulation in F360 was already highly expensive – this token system is not out of line with that basic value proposition it seems.

    Honorable mentions in terms of open source:
    – there is great work being done with constraint-based design in Blender: see CAD Sketcher;
    – Solvespace seems to be a great barebones CAD package;
    – there is an ambitious roadmap in place for getting FreeCAD to the 1.0 release

    1. Not really a new solver. Its just an update to the Nastran solver that they (and many other companies) use and is shared with their Inventor implementation. But that linked explanation does shed light on the change more than the obvious money grab explanation

  29. There’s a “new kid on the block now”. Cad Skecher add on for the 3D modeling software “ Blender” is a parametric CAD software. It’s open source and very new in the development cycle. Give it a year or so and we can see a very competitive CAD package…

  30. I happily use Mecsoft Visual CAD/CAM for complex 3d shapes that can’t be hand Gcoded or conversationally programmed at the mill. You import a CAD file and it gives you CAM Gcode. There’s also a CAD with it but it doesn’t do assemblies. I’m thinking of investing in Alibre Design for that.

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