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IndustryArena Forum > CAD Software > Uncategorised CAD Discussion > Best alternative to Fusion 360 ??
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  1. #1
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    Best alternative to Fusion 360 ??

    Just retired and setting up my little hobby machine shop. I had always assumed I'd use Fusion 360 since it seemed to be the package suggested on every forum I ever read. However, they've changed the rules and started rent-seeking behaviour on hobbyists, and I'm not a huge fan of being tied to cloud-based products either.

    So, I'm after suggestions for alternatives. I have ZERO interest is running Linux, so LinuxCNC is out.

    Probably should list my equipment and intended usage, so the replies are targeted accurately.

    1. I have a 7 x 12 mini-lathe which will probably be converted to CNC eventually.
    2. I am a retired electronics guy, and will want to be able to route PCBs. To that end I bought a 3018 CNC router.
    3. I am designing a plastics injection moulding machine, so will need to be able to mill out aluminium dies on the 3018 as well.

    I've already downloaded the Siemens Solid Edge Community Edition, but sadly it doesn't appear to have CAM integrated, that's a separate package. However I did spend 10 years running a lasercutting business in the 80s and wrote raw GCode so crude conversion programs may be an option.

    Any non-cloud and preferrably free option will be considered. I'm not running a business here and my pension won't stretch to commercial offerings.

    If you suggest something, please tell me WHY you think it's a good choice.

    Cheers,

    Rob

  2. #2
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    Re: Best alternative to Fusion 360 ??

    Brain fade. I forgot to mention that I also have a 3D printer. I plan to use Ultimaker Cura with that, but it would be nice if whatever is suggested also worked with it.

    The 3D printer I have is a delta style device, although the name ecapes me. I haven't even opened the box yet. Mini Kossel maybe?

  3. #3
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    Re: Best alternative to Fusion 360 ??

    Hi Rob - Look at FreeCAD. It has a CAM module and various other interesting stuff. Its getting better and better and will always be free. Peter

  4. #4
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    Re: Best alternative to Fusion 360 ??

    I have two low cost options for you.

    The first is to join the Experimemtal Aircraft Association EAA for $40 per year. This gives you access to one year of Solidworks Education Premium. This is a full featured version of Solidworks which also has 2.5 D integrated CAM.
    https://www.eaa.org/eaa/eaa-membersh...esource-center

    The second option is to sign up for a one year educational access to Autodesk software, which incidentally includes access to Fusion360. I am a retired engineer taking just a single class at the local community college, and I was able to sign up for the Autodesk educational access. Alternatively you could get access if your children are in high school or college.
    https://www.autodesk.com/education/e...eatured&page=1

  5. #5
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    Re: Best alternative to Fusion 360 ??

    Hi Rob- Here's some free CAD alternatives - Peter

    https://www.sculpteo.com/en/3d-learn...are-selection/

  6. #6
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    Re: Best alternative to Fusion 360 ??

    I do wonder how many overseas members of the EAA sign up just for the bargain access to Solid Works.

  7. #7

    Re: Best alternative to Fusion 360 ??

    I've played around with FreeCAD some, and it is somewhat useful. But it has a very steep learning curve, and will take a significant effort to learn enough to become proficient at using it. Your time might be better spent working at learning something else.

    My main reason for learning Freecad was to use it's ability to generate some basic HSM or adaptive clearing type G-code for milling some aluminum parts. And with a bit of work I was able to make it do it.

    While Linuxcnc is a great program it is not CAD or CAM software and would be of no use to you as such. Linuxcnc is a machine control, and would only be useful for building or retrofitting a CNC. If you are considering CNCing a lath, you might want to reconsider your no Linux attitude for that project. I've heard there are no controls that do Lathe CNC better than Linuxcnc at the hobby price level. (but I've never worked with Lathes, just routers and mills.)

  8. #8
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    Re: Best alternative to Fusion 360 ??

    Quote Originally Posted by peteeng View Post
    Hi Rob - Look at FreeCAD. It has a CAM module and various other interesting stuff. Its getting better and better and will always be free. Peter
    Hi Pete, I've installed FreeCAD, NanoCAD, OpenSCAD and a bunch of other stuff so far. Since I'm now building a batch of BuildBotics controllers from parts I'll probably end up using their CAMotics software.

    My range of machines is rapidly expanding as well. I started building a laser cutting machine after finding out that the lead time for a Chinese K50-style box is 3 months, but then discovered a used 1325 bed of 2011 vintage for sale. It needs a new laser and being 11 years old and Chinese the controller will be rubbish, but finding someone to truck it 532km to my place is the bigger issue for the moment. Wouldn't have a flat-top with a crane by any chance? :-)

    And since I'm now doing SMD stuff a pick-and-place machine isn't out of the question either.

  9. #9
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    Re: Best alternative to Fusion 360 ??

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Zuercher View Post
    While Linuxcnc is a great program it is not CAD or CAM software and would be of no use to you as such. Linuxcnc is a machine control, and would only be useful for building or retrofitting a CNC. If you are considering CNCing a lath, you might want to reconsider your no Linux attitude for that project. I've heard there are no controls that do Lathe CNC better than Linuxcnc at the hobby price level. (but I've never worked with Lathes, just routers and mills.)
    I have no inherent dislike of Linux, it's just frobitty to use. My first experience with it was 1993 when I bought a green CD copy of the Slackware distribution. I gave that away years ago but still have the blue 1994 CD, which was the first with the v1.0 kernel from memory. It has slowly become more usable over the years but my objection is mostly with Linux programmers. Many is the time I've had to abandon a project because of Linux dependency hell, and the lack of documentation for what exact platform will actually build a wanted package. And the thing is they don't give a damn, it's looked upon as some sort of a badge of honour for Linux code to be obscure and impossible to replicate.

    As far as the hardware goes I'm tending towards designing and building my own. There's a lot of rubbish out there, especially from China. Something that runs off a Raspberry Pi via wi-fi probably. I need to keep my hand in on hardware design or all those years as a computer engineer will fade into the mists, which becomes a real issue at my age. I don't mind using Linux on the Pi, at least the RasPi guys know what they're doing and supply proper documentation.

  10. #10
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    Re: Best alternative to Fusion 360 ??

    I partly agree about the tendency of Linux enthusiasts to set obstacles in the way of the uninitiated,hence the comparative lack of uptake.I also slightly despair of the people who tried Linux in the days when Windows 95 was new and shiny and expect to find the same Linux environment waiting to engulf them today.It isn't necessarily like that and I really recommend trying a recent version of a popular distro to get a feel for it.It so happens that LinuxCNC can be run as a live install-either from an optical disk or a usb stick-so that you can road test the system with no after effects if you don't get along with it.

    As it happens,I use LinuxCNC to control my hobby router and despite advice not to run any other applications with it,I use the same Vista era Dell Optiplex to listen to online radio while working and have downloaded Freecad so that I can revise or even design parts without moving from the machine.Freecad is becoming more capable with each passing month but without some prior experience of parametric modelling it would be daunting.I like the complete freedom from losing control to the company using it as bait to lure users and there is no telling what sort of capability will show up next.I recommend spending an evening or two watching youtube tutorials from Joko Engineering or Mango Jelly to get a grasp of the basics.I don't have specific knowledge of any tutorials related to lathes because I don't have one-yet.

    - - - Updated - - -

  11. #11
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    Re: Best alternative to Fusion 360 ??

    Quote Originally Posted by routalot View Post
    I partly agree about the tendency of Linux enthusiasts to set obstacles in the way of the uninitiated,hence the comparative lack of uptake.I also slightly despair of the people who tried Linux in the days when Windows 95 was new and shiny and expect to find the same Linux environment waiting to engulf them today.It isn't necessarily like that and I really recommend trying a recent version of a popular distro to get a feel for it.It so happens that LinuxCNC can be run as a live install-either from an optical disk or a usb stick-so that you can road test the system with no after effects if you don't get along with it.
    It's a pretty silly person who would think I tried it in then 90s and never used it again. In fact I was working on some Raspberry Pi code earlier today. I just don't buy into the philosophy, because the whole of Linux is full of insular prima donnas.

    The lathe is probably the last thing that will go full CNC. I have a feedscrew upgrade kit from a YouTuber called Clough42 and that's probably as far as it will go. My laser and router and far more important and they're simple 2.5 axis controls.

  12. #12
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    Re: Best alternative to Fusion 360 ??

    Hi,
    I have a Fusion 360 subscription and happy enough with it.

    Like you I was not happy about a subscription model, however I've come to realise the price is right, and so I am neutral about it. I don't much care for the cloud based either.
    If the internet slows or is unavailable your'e screwed, and thats a PITA when you are working. Having said that it does work pretty well.

    The real advantage of Fusion is that it has integrated CAD/CAM, it has an Electronics module which I use extensively, it has a FEA (Finite Element Analysis) module which I use occasionally and
    dynamic modelling which I have not used. Autodesk have tried to make it a one stop shop and done a pretty good job.

    Just about all of the CAD/CAM software manufacturers offer a free version for hobbyists, but are severely restricted. Next step up they offer an entry level perpetual license for in the
    region of $500-$600. The restrictions are such that these are less capable than Fusion. The next step up again is their entry Pro level package for around $1500 to $2000 (perpetual). These packages
    are competing feature for feature with Fusion, and are really Fusions true competitors. Fusions subscription ($500 per year) is about the same price as the competing perpetual licenses over a three year period.

    I am fairly happy then with the cost of Fusion, it compares well with its true competition and has more features Electronics/PCB, FEA etc. Additionally I will always have access to updates and fixes
    which cost extra with all the competing software, or you risk having your software getting so out-of-date over three or four years that you might have to re-purchase just to stay in touch.

    May I suggest that your aversion to cloud based subscription software, is while understandable....I share it, it may also put you off the best solution out there. Autodesk offer very much reduced
    prices for new customers. When I signed up I paid $375NZD ($250USD) for one year...and that's pretty good value. I suggest take their best deal and run with it for a year and see if you like it.

    Craig

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