It’s no secret that I’m not an Autodesk fan. I used AutoCAD 10-14 in my early years after engineering school for 2D and 3D wireframe. It couldn’t have helped that AutoCAD itself had the reputation of being the software no one actually paid for. I don’t think I ever used a legally owned license of the software. They seemed to serve the seedy underbelly of the CAD market. Plus, they sell a lot to architects, who tend to be notoriously cheap when it comes to software.
Mechanical Desktop 1.0 was my introduction to parametric 3D modeling. MDT was hands down the worst software I’ve ever used for anything, but I think the patience I developed with that set me up to push mid-range modelers far past where they were intended to go with complex surfacing. I spent more time reinstalling and rebooting MDT than I did actually modeling anything in it. It did educate me about working with computers, and gave me a big wishlist for feature-based CAD, if not much else.
And then as MDT was failing, they developed Inventor, which was as much a copy of SolidWorks as they could make. It had about 60% of the functionality, all right on the surface, nothing of value really past the first layer of menus. It was given away with other stuff, and became shelfware, although they claimed there were a lot of seats sold, it was not used as much as they claimed. And then They were making another mechanical design product, Fusion, or something. Just another flailing attempt to catch up with PTC and SolidWorks.
Riding on the success of AutoCAD, Autodesk bought their way into the professional software market with titles like Alias, Maya, 3dsMax, Moldflow, HSM, and TSplines among many others. Pushing everything into the cloud has not been 100% popular among customers. To me, maybe because that Mechanical Desktop of that experience, I’ve always looked at Autodesk as a third-rate backwater, simply not up to the professional image of companies like PTC and Siemens. Even names like 3dsMax and Maya became synonymous with pirateware used by students and graphics arts wannabes to flood the internet with amazing graphics.
I’m sure most of this was unfair, but it was based on experience, general impressions, and the comparative reputations of other companies competing for the same customers. To this day, I continue to discount Autodesk products when looking for tools to do the job.
All of this is why I was a little surprised when I learned that Fusion 360 has the kinds of tools I’ve been trying to convince other CAD vendors are the really necessary tools needed to go forward: Mesh, and T-Splines surface design. To get this stuff outside of Fusion360 is going to set you back $20k for enough NX to cover all the bases. This is why I want to take a look at Fusion360. Can it really break the cheap junk impression I have of Autodesk software?
So I signed up for my free trial. I’m working through the software because I want to have some experience with it. I’ve crashed it once in about an hour of work, but as promised, it recovered everything I had done. Did I mention it’s another cloud CAD?
I’m tracking down someone to interview about Fusion 360 – maybe a combination of Autodesk employee and expert user. Still also looking for someone to interview on cloud security, post Equifax. That just to say that we’re going to have more articles here about Fusion 360, and I want to prime the pump a little to see if any readers have anything to say about it, or if there’s a lot of curiosity out there about this product that promises everything before I start digging into it.