Autodesk's Plans For Inventor Fusion

Today Buzz Kross, head of Autodesk’s Manufacturing Division, disclosed a couple of things he intends to do with Inventor Fusion, the standalone application created by Autodesk as part of its Direct Modeling solution to Inventor.

Inventor Fusion will be shipped along with AutoCAD for free. I believe this is an excellent move. This puts powerful and easy to use 3D capability right into the hands of 2D AutoCAD users. They do not need to look anywhere else for 3D.

In a post titled “AutoCAD Fusion” which I published a year and a half ago, I wrote:

“I don’t believe the purpose of Inventor Fusion is to make people switch from SolidWorks or Solid Edge. Rather it will be more effective as a deterrent for preventing AutoCAD users from looking to other CAD vendors for solutions to adopt 3D in their work flow.”

Inventor Fusion will be the application that will be targeted to the “Do It Yourself” market. In my last post I mentioned that Autodesk was interested in going after the large DIY market. These people are not very CAD literate, if at all. So giving then a history based parametric modeling system like Inventor may not be the best way to go about it. Inventor Fusion seems to be the perfect solution for them. But Fusion does not have drawing capabilities. When I asked Buzz about that he smiled and replied, “You’ll see“.

People in the DIY market are extremely cost conscious. So Autodesk will need to come up with a price point that appeals to them. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. As I mentioned earlier, the DIY market is of interest to low cost CAD vendors like Alibre, Punch Software and similar. Alibre Design Personal is priced at $99 and so is VIACAD 2D/3D. Does this mean that Autodesk will price Fusion (or whatever it will be called then) at $99? I don’t know.

I also feel that one company that should be worried about this move by Autodesk is SpaceClaim, a company that is going after Engineers trying to sell them their CAD system to do design modifications quickly and easily so that they can run their simulation and analysis on the models without having to go back to the CAD people. Autodesk already has Algor for FEA and MoldFlow for CFD. Plugging these technologies into Fusion will be an easy task for Autodesk. Fusion can and will be a direct competitor to SpaceClaim Engineer.

  • Awesome! As you know I thought the 3D road for Autocad was pretty much dead.
    Well I think they read that twitter conversation 😛
    I really think fusion is a good way to move from autocad to Inventor.
    Or maybe just to replace Autocad 3D. So in the end Autocad 3D is really dead and it will be replaced by Fusion. (you should be mad if you prefere autocad 3D over Fusion)
    I’ll be dancing on Autocad 3D grave. 😛

    • “(you should be mad if you preferred autocad 3D over Fusion)
      I’ll be dancing on Autocad 3D grave”
      If there is one thing that absolutely angers me it is comments like this one Marijn.
      What may suit you will not suit many others; every tool has its place. A polarized comment such as this one, too me, would indicate a inflexible person. One needing to Attempt to ‘shame’ others into thinking what they may be doing is incorrect; and nothing could be further from the truth.
      Only hours ago I showed a fellow – who had created a complex chair leg in AutoCAD 3D but had placed the mortise in the incorrect place – how to simply move it; and he was stoked. Direct editing has existed (in a form) in AutoCAD for a long time just and AutoCAD 3D is a very useful tool to all those who have a more a more professional perspective toward design and draughting tools.
      There is NO valid reason to criticize AutoCAD’s 3D capability except to say it should have been extended and made more capable a long time ago. Or simply Autodesk could have simply left Mechanical Desktop on the market and developed it because that were many will end up having spent(wasted) and lot of unnecessary money and lost a lot of time (additional cost) switching to Inventor only to find they are now on the way back – at their expense!

      • Paul,

        As Joker says, “why so serious”? Marijn was just joking around. All I got out of it was that he prefers Fusion to AutoCAD3D and you would prefer Autodesk had invested in AutoCAD 3D. Both seems like valid points regardless of how the message is presented.


        • “As Joker says, “why so serious”?” haven’t seen his comment or its context Mark. However as an educator(s) promoting/using Autodesk’s products we have for a very long period had to “combat” prejudicial comments. It hampers students (and potential new users) understanding and learning and, complicates and confuses when they are trying to making career/purchasing choices.

          • OK, I’ll agree with that… I was an adjunct at a local university and students have a lot of mis-perceptions. On the other hand, any student reading Deelip’s blog likely has a better grasp of what is really going on.

  • Tony

    Direct Editing for DIYers is smart. But a lot of artificial limitations won’t be, and I’d be willing to bet a substantial chunk of change that AutoDesk will enforce a lot of limitations on Fusion-DIY so it won’t impact their cash cows.

    • Brian Hall

      I sincerely hope you’re wrong, but I fear you might be correct.

  • “These people are not very CAD literate, if at all.”

    What a load of rubbish!

    • Brian Hall

      I would disagree…

      As someone who is in the middle of a small niche industry that is full of specialty contractors who definitely qualify as a DIY people/business owners, I can personally attest to the fact that they are absolutely NOT very CAD literate. I don’t say that to be insulting either. If they were “CAD literate” then they wouldn’t be successful with their DIY business because they would be spending too much time on trying to be “CAD literate”. Especially with parametric modelers.

  • Brian Hall

    I must say, up to this point Fusion has been somewhat of a novelty to me. I’m excited by what I see, but the excitement doesn’t go much further than the time I spend making fake models with it.

    Now, with the hint of a strategy which seems to target the DIY market, my pulse has gone up a bit. Personally, if there was a modicum of drawing capabilities with this (hopefully on par with many of the basic stuff that Inventor drawings has), then I could use this to replace what I do with Inventor. Of course, I would have to rewire my “muscle memory” a bit, but nothing I haven’t done before.

    Now, I will REALLY be excited if they are able to produce a robust API for Fusion as well. Something as robust as the Inventor API. At that point, Fusion customers would have a relatively cheap platform (“relatively” being the operative word) to leverage in order to do some pretty awesome things.

    Very interested to see what other conversations you have during AU about this Deelip.

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  • Nainar

    Just a note! Fusion/Direct Editing looks interesting but isnt it too late? I know it is better late than never, but UGS Synchronous Modeling very similar? I know for a fact Think3 had Interactive Solid Modeling years back as part of ThinkDesign!!!

    • Direct Modeling is nothing new. What is new is its appearance in History Based Parametric Modeling systems. What is even more interesting is the way people are trying to mix Direct Modeling with History Based Parametric Modeling. Having said that you should read my series on IronCAD (

      I never really took the time out to evaluate Think3. Hopefully I will get a chance to change that sometime in the future.

      • I would add that what you can do with “Direct Modeling” is growing by leaps and bounds relative to what you can do with history based modeling.

        Saying “Direct Modeling” is nothing new is like saying “automobiles” are nothing new. Its true… but today’s Tessla Roadster is a long way from the old Model T.

        • Totally agree.

          • Nainar

            A crucial missing point though! Will Direct modeling replace feature based modeling completely? I don’t think so. Direct modeling may help downstream users to tweak the original geometry without worrying about features, reordering etc. An example is addition of a draft angle by mold designer. But creation of a raw geometry with direct modeling is going to be cumbersome. Else Google Sketchup would have evolved into a full blown modeler by now, bulldozing every one else, given Google’s financial muscle. Direct editing can be a complimentary tool but cannot be a main stream tool. I dont see demise of Parametric modeler at all any time soon..

          • I don’t think one will replace the other. Things will come to a point where users will not have to bother what is going on under the hood. Which should have been the case in the first place because users should be bothered with what they want to model and not how they want to model it.

      • I think you’re dead on Deelip. There have been and will be direct modeling CAD aimed at lowering the barriers of use by engineers. But I think something that’s often lost is the need to create geometry through direct modeling OR parametric features. I think that could be quite a boon to CAD specialists.

        Any news on that out at AU?

        • Maybe I didn’t quite understand your point. But creating parametric features using Direct Modeling has been possible for quite a long time now. It’s the history based aspect that is the problem.

      • Nainar

        You should. Think3’s direct editing, ( as called Interactive Solid Modeling, ISM ) is also parametric. You add rotationto a particular face of a casting part to give draft and that angle is stored as parameter. You change it and the face gets a different draft. And all this can happen in a model created with Features or just dumb solids.It gets quirky when you reorder though 🙂 And you should look at the Smart Objects of Think3 as well as you are talking about Intellishapes.. And SmartObjects have been there for more than a decade. It is a different story that the people who actually developed it are wandering in darkness.

  • Fusion as a waystation to 3D for newbies is consistent with PTCs positioning of Creo, i.e., a tool for every job and skill level. Similarly, PTC positions their capabilities in Creo as a way to move data into their solution. This same capability with Synchronous Technology at Siemens was a contributing factor in Daimler’s decision, lowering the barrier to migration.

  • The Fusion preview has filters for Parasolids and Catia. That’s not only going to impact on application providers, that’s going to make some users insecure. The DIY market is enterprising and ingenious.

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