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10 Ways to be More Productive in Fusion 360

Get Quicker Results with These Fusion 360 Tips

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Autodesk released Fusion 360 in 2013. It was the first cloud-based architectural software that brought together every aspect of the project workflow. Usable on mobile devices, the software allows collaboration with all involved in a project. This includes architects, construction crews, and key stakeholders.

It is also one of the most comprehensive digital design software available. It allows users to do everything from creating designs through to fabrication. This extends to performing testing and simulation routines for designs.

Further, the subscription model proves beneficial in several ways. It lowers the immediate cost of using the software. Better yet, it means that users don’t have to pay for updates. Instead, you get access to new features as soon as Autodesk releases them.

Though a relatively new player in the market, Fusion 360 has made a lot of waves. This has led to plenty of people adopting the software. Those new to the software sometimes struggle to create efficient workflows. This is often due to a lack of familiarity with its features. With these tips, you can improve your Fusion 360 workflow and get the most out of the software.


Tip #1 – Picking Multiple Selections

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Working with selections can prove difficult in Fusion 360. The same is true of most digital design software. It’s one of the common difficulties of working with 3D models on a 2D screen.

Fusion 360 allows you to select multiple parts of a model to apply a command to. For example, you may have several points where you want to create extrusions. It’s simple to select these points. You select the extrusion tool and click each point with the mouse. But, what if you miss one?

The software can help. Instead of having to waste time selecting every object again you can use a key to add new selections to the current set. This is the Command key for Macs and Ctrl key for PCs. While holding the key, click on the object. This will add it to your set. You can use the same technique to remove objects from the set. Fusion makes the changes when you release the Command or Ctrl key.

This proves very useful when selecting a lot of objects at once. It prevents you from having to go back and start again if you make a mistake.


Tip #2 – Creating Parameters

A lot of Fusion users find that they have a few sets of common parameters. They use them across several designs. Creating a new parameter takes time and can become frustrating if you have used the parameter in the past.

The software can help with that. You can create common User Parameters to go alongside the pre-set ones. Click the Modify option and select Change Parameters. You should see a green + sign. Click it and you can start creating a new parameter. Fusion allows you to name the parameter and set various options, such as the units used and the expression. You can then use the parameter across any designs that need it.

That’s not all. You can go back to edit the parameter too. Once you do, any changes you make get reflected across all designs that use that parameter.

So, you save time in creating parameters. Further, you save even more time when making edits to those parameters.


Tip #3 – Using Select Other

We previously mentioned how difficult it can be to make selections using Fusion. This problem gets bigger if your design has a lot of layers. It also becomes an issue when working with complex models in high detail. Generally speaking, it gets more difficult to select the elements you want to work on when there’s a lot happening on the screen.

You can counteract this issue with a simple command. First, hold your cursor over the element that you want to work with as best you can. Then, click the left mouse button and hold it down. This will cause a list to pop up. The list contains information about everything under the cursor.

You can use the Depth option to scroll through all of the elements that were under the cursor when you clicked. The Parent command goes into more detail for a specific element. It lets you choose a face or feature relevant to the element.

This proves most useful when you have things that you find difficult to select. For example, you may have an element inside a closed box. You can use this technique to access the element quickly.


Tip #4 – Easier Command Access



You can access most of the commands you will need in Fusion using the navigational bar. This will let you search through the many menus that house the commands. This gets frustrating over time. You have to waste valuable seconds accessing commands. You may even end up spending a lot of time searching for commands you don’t use often.

Fusion introduced the toolbox to make this navigation easier. All you need to do is press the S key. This will open the toolbox. You can use this screen to search for the commands you need via typing them into a search bar. Alternatively, use either the mouse or the arrow keys on your keyboard to scroll through the list.

The best thing about the toolbox is that it allows you to pick your favourite commands. Each command has an Up arrow attached to it. Click the arrow and the command gets pinned to the top of your toolbox for your current workspace. Now all you need to do is press S whenever you need a command and select it straight from the toolbox.

A great way to save time is to set your pinned commands at the start of a project. That way you can access them at the touch of a button.


Tip #5 – Quick Access of Neutral Files

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Let’s say somebody has sent a file for you to view in Fusion 360. These files can include STEP, SAT, IGES, and SMT file types. Fusion classes each of these as neutral files. Many people go through a convoluted method to open these files. After opening the data panel and choosing Upload, they select the desired file. They then need to wait for the file to upload and translate before they can open it.

It’s simple enough but can take a lot of time. There is a quicker way to do it. Open the File menu and select New Design From File. This will pull up a list of files you can open using Fusion. Select Open on the correct file. This will load the file instantly without the need for uploading and translation.

This proves ideal when looking through a set of files somebody has sent to you. The technique allows you to quickly scan the file to see if you like it. Better yet, you don’t have to waste much time on files that don’t suit your needs.


Tip #6 – Editing Appearance Swatches

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Fusion 360 comes with its own colour palette. You can select any of these for use in your models. However, you may find that some of the colours appear inaccurate to your eye. There is a quick solution if that is the case. The software allows you to edit any of its pre-set colours as you see fit.

Fusion names its colours Appearance Swatches. You can access them by clicking Modify and then Appearance via the toolbar. Alternatively, press A to access the swatches directly. You should see an array of colours. Alongside them, you will see various sliders that allow you to change the colour. These range from RGB sliders to sliders for altering the colour’s glossiness.

Select a colour and adjust the sliders to your needs. You can save the new swatch from here or select a new name for the colour. To do the latter, use the text field you can find on the Edit Appearance window.


Tip #7 – Changing the Opacity of Components



The opacity of a component determines how easily you can see through it. When working on complex models, you may wish to see through outer layers to what lies underneath. Many use a bunch of workarounds to achieve this effect. However, Fusion actually offers a way to change a component’s opacity quickly.

All you need to do is right click on the component. You should see an opacity control pop up near the bottom of the drop down list. This will allow you to make a component see-through when needed. You can alter this setting at any time, too.

Best of all, this works solely for the component aspect of the design. When you come to render the model, the opacity reverts to what it should be.


Tip #8 – Inserting One Design into Another

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You may find that you want to use a previous design in your current one. This is common if you have created a design that is usable in several complex models. Fusion allows you to import one design into another.

First, open the design that you wish to import into. This is important. Opening the wrong design can cause issues later on. With the correct design open, click on the Data Panel. Use this to find the design that you wish to import into your opened design. From there, right click on the relevant design and choose the Insert into Current Design option.

You should now see the two designs together. The imported design has a link to its original file. Any changes you make reflect across both. This can prove annoying if you need to alter the imported design without changing the base design.

You can remove the link using the Data Panel. Right click the imported design again. You should see an option to Break Link. Click it and you can make whatever edits you want in the new design without affecting the original file.


Tip #9 – Applying Constraints

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Most of your designs will have constraints. After all, they need to work in the real world at some point. That means you need to work within various constraints. You can apply constraints to various elements and pieces of sketch geography. All you need to do is use the Sketch Palette on the right-hand side of the screen.

Still, this can prove time-consuming on large products. Having to move the mouse to the Sketch Palette also disrupts your workflow. Again, the solution is right clicking the mouse.

Just select the piece of sketch geometry you wish to constrain. Use the right click to bring up the Marking Menu and you should see a host of constraint options at the bottom of the list. The list only displays constraints that you can actually apply to the piece of geometry you click on. That means you don’t have to worry about picking the wrong one. Just click on your selection and the constraint gets applied without any more navigation.


Tip #10 – Adding New Rendered Views



Fusion 360 offers a set of default views from which you can render. These are the Front, Right, Top, and Home views. You can click any of them to generate a render quickly from the appropriate viewpoint. This is great, but what if you want to use another view? More importantly, what if you want to access that view across several designs?

The software allows you to do just that. You can create new NamedViews to go alongside the four already mentioned. First, find the viewpoint that you want to use. This will require some adjusting of angles and zoom until you hit the sweet spot. Now, access the NamedViews folder and click New NamedView.

This will create a new NamedView based on the view you created in the design. There’s more. You can have Fusion automatically render that view every time you save. Just render your design and look to the bottom-left of the screen. You should see the Rendering Gallery. Drag your new NamedView into the Render on Save Section and it Fusion will create the render automatically each time you save.


The Final Word

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So, there you have it. Ten great tips for helping you improve your Fusion 360 workflow. Start using them all today and you should find that you save lots of time when working with the software.

If you need extra help, ArchiStar Academy is here to help. We offer several courses that will help you improve efficiency and your overall ability in Fusion 360.

Archistar Academy offers several courses across the spectrum of digital design software. You’ll develop your skills, allowing you to create more accurate and functional models.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Archistar Academy today if you have any questions.

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Posted on 20 Jan 2020

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