This week’s selection is “Making Your CAM Journey Easier with Fusion 360” by Fabrizio Cimo.
Autodesk’s Fusion 360 is a popular choice for designing 3D models by many 3D printer operators. It provides very extensive functionality, and for personal use it’s available at no charge.
While the majority of 3D printer operators use it as a design tool for development of new objects using its CAD services, it actually has far more capabilities within the base product.
The CAD portion of Fusion 360 is usually an an area where one would start with the tool. However, there is another area of notable capability: CAM, or Computer Aided Manufacturing.
CAM is the science of transforming the geometry of a 3D (or 2D) model into code that can be executed by a machine to actually build the object. In the world of 3D printing we’re all familiar with this sequence: CAD produces a 3D model, and a separate slicing tool produces the GCODE that runs on the 3D printer. That’s the same process, it’s just that in 3D printing we don’t call it “CAM”, but that’s what it is.
Fusion 360 includes much CAM functionality. It is able to prepare executable jobs (GCODE) for several types of machines and models. You can, for example, prepare 2D jobs for execution on a wide variety of laser cutters, right from within Fusion 360.
The most frequently used CAM function in Fusion 360 is no doubt for milling operations. Fusion 360 is able to generate code to run CNC machines, rotary equipment and much more.
The most infrequently used CAM function is probably the additive manufacturing capability. Fusion 360 introduced this “slicing” capability about a year or so ago, and as far as I can tell, it hasn’t caught on with the 3D print community yet.
One of the key reasons for this is that the alternative independent slicing tools offer very advanced functions. PrusaSlicer, Ultimaker Cura and others have many features that Fusion 360 could only dream about at this point.
However, there are advantages to staying within one system to perform both object creation and preparing the build. There’s no need to switch tools.
This book covers all of this in great detail. It walks you through the process of using Fusion 360’s CAM features for turning, milling, laser cutting, and additive manufacturing.
If you’re a user of Fusion 360 and want learn more about how it can be used to engage equipment beyond 3D printers, this is the book for you.
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