Autodesk University 2016, Part 2: What's New for AEC, Manufacturing Tools

15 Dec, 2016 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson

Event report: Product Innovation keynote session delivers latest software news, including a sneak peek at Project Quantum, a fully integrated, collaborative, cloud-based platform for AEC.


Introduced in July, the Autodesk LIVE service enables users of Revit BIM software to quickly create interactive design visualizations to present and share with others to explore on their own. The latest release supports virtual reality experiences, Hanspal added. "You get a fast, simple way to go from Revit to virtual reality in two clicks."

Referring to Autodesk subscription, Hanspal said, "Our team is working on building a framework that delivers updates to you on the desktop as a service. ... We want to make updating your desktop software as seamless as updating apps on a phone or tablet is today."

Regarding cloud-based solutions, Hanspal said, Autodesk's next generation of products doesn't just take advantage of the cloud, it is native to the cloud. "Our goal is to evolve these offerings into a cohesive portfolio of products that is available to you on demand." Cloud software can connect data and teams seamlessly, making processes easier to digitize across teams, driving innovation and agility. It allows distributed project teams to collaborate using a variety of tools and devices.

"Imagine a solution that puts your design in the center in a single, common data environment that everyone can access" where software interoperability, data exchange, and hardware platforms are not obstacles, Hanspal explained. "We are moving to integrated platforms and experiences, one for each industry. These are connected, capable, on-demand experiences, no compromises. Once again, Autodesk is leveling the playing field. We're democratizing high-end capabilities, like analysis, visualization, VR, PLM, CAM — and making it all available to companies of all sizes."

What's New: Fusion 360

Stephen Hooper, senior director, Fusion 360, followed Hanspal to update attendees about the next-generation Fusion 360, a continually evolving cloud-based CAD/CAE/CAM solution that integrates industrial design, 3D modeling, simulation, manufacturing, and collaboration for PC, Mac, and mobile device users.

Stephen Hooper, senior director, Fusion 360 for Autodesk.
Stephen Hooper, senior director, Fusion 360 for Autodesk.

Hooper explained several recently added and coming-soon Fusion 360 tools. The goal for Fusion was always to create a single integrated platform, he explained; now, the company is "taking that integration to a whole new level."

  • Advanced simulation studies aim to take users beyond validation and put advanced simulation capabilities in the hands of designers. "We're introducing on-demand, cloud-based, pay-as-you-go [service]," Hooper said.
  • Shape optimization, also a pay-as-you-go service, helps reduce the weight of created objects while maintaining a predefined base of performance.
  • 5-axis machining — something that typically carries a $10,000 price tag — is now available to improve product finishing after the additive manufacturing process. "Our aim is to level the playing field for all" by making advanced tools accessible, affordable, and easy to use, Hooper said.
  • Sheet metal design and fabrication will be integrated soon in Fusion 360. Fusion understands the manufacturing process being employed and automatically applies setbacks and clearance to ensure the design can be manufactured. It can also produce manufacturing instructions.
  • Access to PCB design is coming soon to allow users to lay out a PCB board within the context of the design — that is, physical properties of the design can be used to lay out PCB componentry — then place it into the design and check for clash. "This is the only product for integrated PCB design. It allows you to make more informed decisions earlier in the process," Hooper said.
  • Web access is coming soon to allow users, regardless of device, to access and work with Fusion 360 data around the clock from any web-connected location. All updates automatically sync to the cloud.

Fusion 360 is free to students, start-up companies, and enthusiasts; a single subscription starts at $25/month. A new Ultimate pricing option adds advanced simulation and CAM functionality.

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About the Author: Nancy Spurling Johnson

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