CAD and 3D printing software developer Autodesk was very clear when they announced their new Spark 3D printing platform and Ember 3D printer almost a year ago, noting that the goal was to make 3D printing easier and fully integrated into their multiple software workflows. After teasing us for months, they have finally started to make good on those promises. With Ember now officially set to begin shipping early build models and the Spark Beta currently calling for early testers Autodesk seems poised to officially start rolling out what they see as the future of the 3D printing industry. But they aren’t stopping at their new 3D printer and workflow, they are also starting to roll out the Spark integration with their other software products.
At this years Solid 2015, a trade show that focuses on the integration of hardware and software with the Internet of Things, Autodesk revealed several new updates to their powerful design software Fusion 360. Among the new features that were announced was full integration with Autodesk Print Studio, the Spark powered 3D printing utility. They also revealed enhancements to the Sketching and 2D Drawing features as well as the new Distributed Design feature that allows multiple users to collaboratively work on individual parts of a larger project. Fusion 360 will also offer several Partner Integrations including services offered by BriteHub and the parts4cad app from CADENAS, with a new Proto Labs integration coming soon.
Fusion 360 will now include Autodesk’s new Spark powered 3D print utility, Autodesk Print Studio, and will also include direct integration with the Ember 3D printer. Autodesk is keeping their promise to include full integration with several other popular 3D printer models as well, including Type A Machines, Dremel Printers, Makerbot, and Ultimaker. Autodesk Print Studio will also help users orient and adjust digital models to fit specific 3D printer printing bed volumes without requiring the source model to be manually adjusted or tested. Once the system sets the required modifications it will directly send an STL file to the destination 3D printer.
These are all features that companies using 3D printing technology have been clamoring for, and they should make the process of preparing a digital model for 3D printing dramatically quicker. Fans of Autodesk’s Fusion 360 software already have some of the most robust design, engineering and fabrication software on the market and it will now be even easier to add advanced 3D printing technology to a company’s existing workflow. Not only will this increase the process of producing rapid prototypes, but it will also speed up production and manufacturing.
“With its combination of design and CAM capabilities, Fusion 360 has been integral to our business and bringing our product to market. We rely on it for designing our ergonomic keyboards, for 3D printing prototypes and for conveying CAM data to our contract manufacturer. It’s an incredible package and an incredible price,” co-founder of Keyboardio Jesse Vincent said at Solid 2015.
Fusion 360 will also be adding several new apps from partner service providers that will simplify the process of product design and development. The Britehub app allows users to request quotes for part manufacturing from within Fusion 360 using the part that is currently being designed. It also allows users to compare quotes with other manufacturing suppliers, offers support for supply chain management, and even begin the product manufacturing process from within the design environment. The parts4cad app from CADENAS provides users access to millions of designed-to-spec 3D models and assemblies offered by over 400 certified manufacturers’ catalogs. The available models can be searched, tested and then inserted directly into a new or existing design project.
Autodesk also announced that a new Proto Labs app will soon be made available that will allow Fusion 360 users to request instant quotes for rapid injection molding and CNC machining capabilities. And at a later date the app will include the ability to request quotes for 3D printed parts and services. The ability to instantly receive free manufacturing quotes including analyzing the design for manufacturability will be a huge time saver. Not only will it allow companies and designers to more accurately gauge product pricing quickly, but also allow them to make any necessary modifications to the product before being sent to production.
With a simple program update, multiple steps of the typical product development process will be completely eliminated. These are all some rather remarkable enhancements to an already powerful set of design and fabrication tools, and if the new features work as well as Autodesk says that they will I expect more companies to integrate their services directly into Autodesk products. You can read about all of the new features available in the June Fusion 360 update over on Autodesk and you can let us know what you think of them on our Spark and Ember Integration with Fusion 360 forum at 3DPB.com.