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Autodesk Inventor is a CAD program, first produced 20 years ago. It is aimed at professionals working on mechanical and engineering projects. This 3D modeling software is very powerful, capable of designing complex models with thousands of parts, such as cars. It is stable and reliable and offers a very wide range of customized tools.
Autodesk Fusion 360 is a much newer 3D software, however, it’s gaining a lot of popularity among professionals and hobbyists. It combines Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) and Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) software. It has a more modern take on design and will give you numerous tools for design, simulation, and production. Fusion 360 will be a great choice for engineering projects, mechanical parts, and product design. It is also important to mention that Fusion 360 is cloud-based, making it much easier to work in teams.
When it comes to system requirements, the case is pretty clear. Autodesk Fusion 360 runs on both Mac and Windows. Fusion 360 will, therefore, make it easier to change between computers or work on a project in teams, especially thanks to its cloud-based functionality.
Autodesk Inventor however only works with Windows. You can still run it on Mac computers if it is on Windows partition. This factor might be important to you.
When it comes to storage, Autodesk Inventor is a heavier software. It is recommended to have 20GB RAM and required a minimum of 8GB. Running Fusion 360 needs just 4GB. The reason for it is that Inventor is a 3D software aimed for bigger projects with thousands of parts that require more memory.
Autodesk Fusion 3D is well known for an easier learning curve than Inventor. Both software have a lot of advanced tools that will take you a while to discover but will make your work more efficient. Again, Inventor might be harder to learn, but if you’re planning to design objects that will contain many parts, Inventor will be more clear to work with.
User Interface is also an important part of learning new 3D software. Fusion 360 brings new solutions to that, is more modern, sleek and intuitive. Inventor will give you a more traditional feeling.
Both Inventor and Fusion will give you a highly advanced experience with interesting functionalities. You can perform stress tests, simulations, or get the necessary documentation. If you’re planning to 3D print your models, they will also allow you to prepare the files.
The tools of Autodesk Fusion 360 allow for precise 3D modeling, rapid prototyping, generative design, and manufacturing. You can determine usability before the production to catch as many potential failures as possible. You can test different alternatives for your design and find new, innovative solutions. Additionally, you will have access to premade 3D models such as gears os screws.
Autodesk Inventor will provide you with high-performance, engineering tools allowing you to produce accurate mechanical parts. You will also be able to gather documentation and perform simulations and tests to prepare your model for production. Simulation in Inventor is a real advantage. The program offers the opportunity to perform dynamic simulation and stress analysis on the parts you’ve created as well as large assemblies. This is perfect to anticipate how your product will perform in real-life and improve your iteration process. Some of these powerful tools will allow you to enable rapid assembly configurations or design specifically for sheet metal and frames. You can also choose already standard components from a library.
Design automation is also a big advantage provided by Autodesk Inventor. Using iLogic, the design can apply automation rules to assemblies.
When it comes to pricing for these 3D modeling software, keep in mind that they are professional-grade providing you highly advanced options.
Inventor offers free student licenses. There are three subscription plans for regular users:
3 years: 5360$
Fusion 360 offers a free 30-day trial and 3-year licenses for students. Otherwise the subscription costs:
3 years 1335$
As you can see both Inventor and Fusion 360 are powerful players in the 3D modeling world. They allow you to design parts, test them and manufacture. Inventor will provide you with a wide range of tools for very complex objects and Fusion 360 with professional options for mechanical projects. Although similar, Fusion 360 has a bit more of a fresh look and Inventor is more stable and traditional. Both though will give you stable performance and necessary tools.
Fusion 360 is providing a lot of flexibility by allowing to work on your 3D modeling projects anywhere. Working on a cloud based software is an opportunity to access your work when and where you need to. But Inventor is an older and more mature software, while Fusion 360 is still developing, released only a few years ago.
There is no doubt about that: Fusion 360 has a better learning curve than SOLIDWORKS, while also offering more advanced tools and features. Moreover, Fusion 360 is cheaper and offers some free educational licenses.
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