Autodesk announced a very interesting addition to Netfabb: Fusion 360!
Netfabb is the company’s all-in-one utility for setting up 3D print jobs. It provides perhaps the most comprehensive set of operational features available for additive manufacturing. You can not only perform sophisticated part layout and repairs within a 3D print job, but you can also simulate the print job. This allows those operating expensive additive manufacturing systems to increase the reliability of their work by avoiding issues before they happen.
Netfabb was an acquisition by Autodesk. They purchased the tool from its German owners way back in 2015, with the deal closing in 2016. Since then the product has slowly been knitted into the Autodesk 3D ecosystem.
Meanwhile, Autodesk Fusion 360 is the company’s flagship CAD tool for designing parts. It includes a wide variety of functions, such as solid, sheet, 2D, sculpting, CAM and much more. One of the more interesting features they’ve recently included is an ability to perform generative design, ideal for 3D printed applications. That’s why it’s called “Fusion”, as it joins multiple tools together.
Now there’s a bit of a change to Netfabb, and it’s quite welcome. Autodesk’s Vikram Vedantham said:
“We are excited to announce that we are bringing more design, engineering and manufacturing capabilities to our Netfabb community this year by adding the Netfabb tools to the Autodesk Fusion 360 family of solutions.”
“Netfabb subscribers will continue to have access to their Netfabb products but will now also receive the added benefit of Fusion 360 and all its capabilities supporting modelling, manufacturing, documentation and more. For many Netfabb subscribers, this new offering will include providing them Fusion 360’s Additive Build Extension and upcoming Additive Simulation Extension at no additional charge.”
This is an interesting move by Autodesk, as it strikes at the heart of product usage. Let’s see how this can be put together:
- Netfabb users operate 3D printers that require 3D models
- Those 3D models were created in a 3D CAD tool, which may or may not be Autodesk Fusion 360
- Each Netfabb client is currently paying for Netfabb and 3D CAD tools separately
- The opportunity to reduce costs with the new offer may cause some Netfabb users to switch to Fusion 360
Eventually, Autodesk may sweeten the attraction further by providing deeper integration between the two tools.
For some users this could be a difficult decision. Should they abandon another expensive CAD tool to move to the effectively free Fusion 360? While there would be a cost savings, some organizations will be so deep into other CAD tools they cannot practically switch. On the other hand, learning a CAD tool to an expert level is a lengthy process, something users of other tools may not wish to experience.
It could be that Autodesk is focusing mostly on new users that have not yet solidified their CAD tool strategy. This move is just another way of making Fusion 360 a bit more sticky.