Many new products today are created using advance computer-aided design (CAD) software. Having a fully capable 3D CAD modelling software is critical for manufacturing, design, learning and much more. CAD software are used to create 3D models that can be tested before actual production. There are many different CAD software available in the market today. But Autodesk Inventor and Fusion 360 are two of the most popular software when it comes to CAD design and modelling.
Though both Autodesk Inventor and Fusion 360 are designed for the same purpose, i.e. CAD modelling, they are very different in their features and functionalities. This article looks into how these software compare to each other.
Autodesk Inventor was released over 20 years ago in 1999. Autodesk Inventor is a direct competitor to Solidworks and is packed with powerful features such as freeform, direct modelling tools and built-in simulations. Autodesk Inventor is the CAD software of choice by professional engineering companies all over the world.
Fusion 360 was released in 2013 and is a comparatively newer offering from Autodesk as compared to all of their products. Fusion 360 is cloud-based and features most of the CAD capabilities offered by Autodesk Inventor. However, Fusion 360 has a much more modern user interface and has a more natural learning curve.
Autodesk Inventor is compatible on Microsoft Windows only and can only run on Mac if the system is on Windows partition. Inventor demands high computing capabilities. The recommended RAM for this software is 20GB while the minimum is 8GB. Autodesk Inventor also requires a faster processor to run and load large assemblies smoothly.
Fusion 360 can run on both Windows and Mac. Being cloud-based, it can run well on lower spec computers too. Due to its cloud-based functionality, it is quite useful for someone who works cross-platform from one computer to another. The cloud-based capabilities of this software is one of its main selling points.
Features and Functionalities
When it comes to features and functionalities, both the Inventor and Fusion 360 will give you highly advance user experience. Both these CAD modelling software are equipped with features such as flow simulations, stress analysis and creating necessary documentation. However, in terms of functions and functionalities, here are some of the differences between the two.
Autodesk Inventor has more features and capabilities as compared to Fusion 360. One of the reasons for this is due to its presence in the market for over 20 years. This software is capable of handling tasks that require high-performance and allows the users to create large assemblies of models with ease. You can also work with sheet metals, frame designing, plastic modelling and ready to print 3D files. Autodesk Inventor has an extensive library of materials to choose from.
Fusion 360 is ideal for making models for rapid prototyping, precise 3D modelling and creating assemblies consisting of lesser than 20 parts. Fusion 360 also features basic FEA stress analysis capabilities and can carryout surface level simulations. The content library for the Fusion 360 is the same as the Autodesk Inventor.
You need to create an account in Autodesk to download Inventor. Signing up for Autodesk is simple and pretty much straight forward. Autodesk Inventor comes with a one-month free trial. After your free trial expires, and you wish to use this software for longer, you may purchase it on a monthly or yearly plan. There is also an option to purchase it upfront on a three-year subscription.
Autodesk Inventor has free subscription account made using student email addresses; however, this version has limited functions and features.
As with any software, you have to pay to use it. What edges Fusion 360 over other CAD software is that it is cloud-based and anyone can use it regardless of their system specifications. However, Fusion 360 is geared more towards companies and students rather than individuals.
Fusion 360 is entirely free for startups, students and companies with an annual revenue of less than $100,000. For everyone else, you can have a month’s free trial, following which you can get this software on subscription if you wish to continue. Due to its low pricing, ease of use and access, Fusion 360 is an ideal option for businesses on tight budget.
Autodesk Inventor can easily handle large assemblies and can organize all your measurements and CAD models into neat lists. This enables you to make specific changes even when you have a large number of parts.
Handling large assemblies and models in Fusion 360 can be a nightmare. Handling assemblies with different parts can become chaotic in Fusion 360. On the other hand, it handles single 3D parts and small assemblies quite well.
When it comes to document management, Autodesk Inventor lacks behind by quite some margin. Since this software is made to be used by a single user, the collaboration and document management is quite limited. Database management needs to be in place when transferring the models made from one computer to another.
Fusion 360 has onboard data management tools that allows multiple user to collaborate together. Every time the project is saved, a new version is created so that audit can be easily done, and history of changes can be tracked easily. In Fusion 360, you have control on all file permissions thus files can be renamed, edited or restructured at any time.
With the software installed on your computer, the updates need to be downloaded and then updated. It is not necessary that the updates happen as soon as they are released. Being stored on your computer, clearing software bugs or troubleshooting the problems can also take some time. With new release every year, you need to purchase a separate subscription for the new product.
Since Fusion 360 is cloud based, it is easier to update the software. The software is automatically updated as soon as new patches are released. With everything in cloud storage, the need to download a separate update file is completely eliminated. Any bugs or issues in new updates for Fusion 360 are cleared out faster by Autodesk.
Autodesk Inventor is known for its performance and getting things done faster. The workflow for Inventor is streamlined and can automate many tasks in one go. This way Inventor is time efficient and faster as compared to other 3D CAD modelling software.
Fusion 360 is simpler and lacks many automation features available on the Autodesk Inventor. The workflow for this software is also simpler and less automated as compared to the Inventor. Due to simpler workflow, learning Fusion 360 is easier but basic.
Here are some of the frequently asked questions for Autodesk Inventor and Fusion 360;
Is Autodesk Inventor Better Than AutoCAD?
Autodesk Inventor has all the necessary tools and features required to create DWG files, make detailed 3D and 2D models and collaborate directly with the AutoCAD. Autodesk Inventor built-in features eliminates the need for AutoCAD if you are dealing with 3D files and data. For 2D drawings, AutoCAD excels.
Will Fusion 360 completely replace Autodesk Inventor?
Fusion 360 is geared more towards students, SMEs and startups. Fusion 360 is not capable of handling large assemblies or modelling large parts, so it is highly unlikely Fusion 360 completely replaces Inventor anytime soon.
Do I need prior experience in CAD modeling before using these software?
Both software are designed in such a way that someone with no CAD modelling experience can learn and use them. However, it is comparatively easy to learn Fusion 360 due to its modern and simple user interface. For complete beginners, we recommend starting with Fusion 360 as it is free for hobbyist and has an easier learning curve.
Can engineering companies rely completely on Fusion 360?
Fusion 360 is an excellent choice for companies if they are small-medium enterprises or they are dealing with small assemblies or simpler components. When it comes to complex geometries and larger assemblies, Fusion 360 cannot compete with Autodesk Inventor’s advanced tools and features.
Why is my Autodesk Inventor running slow?
Autodesk Inventor requires high system specifications for it to run smoothly. The performance of your software also depends on the size of the assembly that you are dealing with. Complex assemblies require high computational power. For your software to run smoothly, ensure that you meet the minimum system requirements.
Is Fusion 360 the only option for Mac users?
Does the Student version license of Autodesk Inventor work even after you have graduated?
Student licenses are renewed yearly. If you are someone who graduated within one year of you getting the student license, the software will work for the whole year regardless of your student status. It is revaluated each year.
Autodesk Inventor vs Fusion 360 Comparison Chart
Here is a direct comparison between the two software that may help you make your purchasing designing;
|Autodesk Inventor||Fusion 360|
|System Compatibility||Windows||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android|
|Bundle||Yes, it can be purchased with AutoCAD, Inventor CAM and Inventor Nastram||Standalone software|
|Import non-native CAD files||Yes||Yes|
|Collaborate with others||Yes, requires tool integration||Yes|
|Subscriptions||Monthly, yearly, every three year||Monthly, quarterly, yearly|
|Price||Starts at $250 a month||Starts at $60 a month|
|Free Trial||For 30 days||For 30 days|
|Designing from Scratch||Yes||Yes|
|Model simulation||Yes||Yes, but with not many features|
|Mobility||Installed on local storage||Cloud storage. Can be accessed from anywhere|
Both the Autodesk Inventor and Fusion 360 are designed for 3D CAD modelling, but they are used by very different audience. Fusion 360 has modern features, is compatible with different operating systems, and revolutionizes the way we collaborate files. Being cloud based, it can be used from anywhere and offers better mobility. Fusion 360 is ideal for hobbyist, students and SMEs.
On the other hand, Autodesk Inventor has richer, deeper tools and functions that are preferred by hardcore designers, but it lacks the same hardware compatibility or affordability as compared to Fusion 360. It is more expensive, but the depth of this software is essential for intensive designs and assemblies.
We recommend Fusion 360 if you are someone starting new on CAD modeling or is tight on budget. For more professional designers, Autodesk Inventor is strongly recommended.