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Autodesk @ Solid 2015: The Future of Making Things Comes to Life

  • Fusion 360 amps cloud-powered design for distributed teams in its latest release
  • Research Fellow McManus speaks on “When Things Wake Up” a.k.a. the coming convergence of Pervasive Computing, Machine Learning and Digital Fabrication
  • Autodesk provides a sneak-peek at the hacker garage of the future

Today (June 23rd, 2015) at the Solid conference in San Francisco, Autodesk took the wraps off several new updates to Autodesk Fusion 360.

The O’Reilly Solid conference focuses on the future of software, hardware and the Internet of Things. So it provides a perfect backdrop for a tool so well suited to the emerging ways that physical things (Internet connected or not) are being designed and fabricated.

Fusion 360 brings CAD, CAM and CAE together in the cloud. It’s an integrated, connected, and accessible platform built for the new ways products are being designed and made. From the beginning, its earliest adopters have been the hardware startups who recognize that – just as they are looking for new ways to disrupt their respective markets – Fusion 360 is breaking down barriers and disrupting the CAD market.

“With its combination of design and CAM capabilities, Fusion 360 has been integral to our business and bringing our product to market.  We rely on it for designing our ergonomic keyboards, for 3D printing prototypes and for conveying CAM data to our contract manufacturer. It’s an incredible package and an incredible price,” said Jesse Vincent, co-founder of Keyboardio.

What’s New?

  • Distributed design – The new release helps geographically dispersed teams work together and lays the foundation for more enhancements in the future.  This update allows you to insert referenced geometry from one part of a project to another.  Team members can work on separate parts of a larger assembly while keeping tabs on each other’s progress so the larger project stays in synch.  This short video explains the concept in more detail:

  • Sketching enhancements – Several improvements to sketching improve visibility of sketch lines, access to sketch controls and a new sketching preview feature that allows you to turn on/off sketching line coloring when your sketches are fully constrained.
  • 2D Drawings enhancements – The update includes numerous navigational improvements and the ability to add several kinds of dimensions to drawings. Also 2D Drawings are now associative with distributed designs, so users are alerted when changes are made to an externally referenced part and they can automatically update their drawings.
  • Autodesk Print Studio – Fusion 360 now includes Autodesk’s new 3D print utility powered by Spark, which dramatically accelerates prep time. With direct integration with Autodesk’s Ember printer, Type A Machines, and Dremel Printers, Makerbot, and Ultimaker printers, it allows users to orient and modify digital models to fit pre-defined printer volumes without affecting the source model.  Once modifications are set, it sends an STL file directly to the selected 3D printer.













  • Partner integrations – Integrations with BriteHub and CADENAS’ parts4cad have been completed, and a new integration with Proto Labs is coming soon.
    • Britehub is a service that lets you request a quote for manufacturing the part you designed, compare quotes against other suppliers, gain supply chain management support, and get your product made with a seamless step-by-step process.
    • CADENAS’ parts4cad gives you access to millions of designed-to-spec 3D models and assemblies from more than 400 certified manufacturers’ catalogs, ready for you to browse through and insert right into a new or existing design within Fusion 360.
    • Proto Labs’ rapid injection molding and CNC machining quoting capabilities will soon be integrated into Fusion 360 (3D printing quoting to come at a later date). This enhancement will allow Fusion 360 users to request a free manufacturing quote with the push of a button. The quotes include design for manufacturability analysis so necessary modifications can be made early.

Much more detail on all of these updates is available on the Fusion 360 “Design Differently” blog.

What’s Happening at Solid Con?

Autodesk Research Fellow Mickey McManus will give a keynote on Wednesday at 11:35 called “Primordial – When Things Wake Up.”  McManus is co-author of the book Trillions, often referred to as an essential field guide to the era of pervasive computing and the Internet of Things.

His talk will look at three converging trends:

  • Connected devices (soon to number in the trillions, all communicating with each other and us)
  • Digital manufacturing (when 3D printing merges with new materials and makes dumb things smart)
  • Machine learning (when things react and change in response to their environment)

Together, McManus sees a new phenomenon emerging: networked matter.  He will talk about how to design for this coming era of living, interconnect things – and get an advantage on those who don’t see it coming.


To provide a glimpse into this interconnected future, Autodesk will give a sneak peek into Mickey’s ongoing research journey about how networked matter could radically impact manufacturing. Visitors to the Autodesk exhibit space will see research into how a team of just three people could use the tools of the future – early versions for many of which are already here – to design and build their own car company.  It’s a future where “hackrods” replace the old notion of hotrods; where makers interact with sensors and machine intelligence to shape the vehicle, the tools, garage, supply chain, and the driving experience.  It’s a future where a tiny start-up can compete and collaborate in a trillion dollar market that today is only challenged by the likes of Tesla.

Believe it or not, it’s coming.


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