Bring designs to life with Autodesk Inventor Fusion

Design, create, and print 3D models with ease using this free utility.

Autodesk Inventor Fusion is a Mac application for creating 3D CAD designs. This is not a stripped-down product meant to give you a taste of a much more expensive tool, but a free full-featured product of its own. The download is sizable at 740MB but installation on our MacBook Pro went quickly and easily. Once installed, Autodesk Inventor Fusion requires a bit of a learning curve to use effectively, but that's to be expected from a product such as this one.

The process of designing with Autodesk Inventor Fusion begins with the 2D sketch. A set of simple and familiar sketching tools lets you lay out what you want in a rough fashion, and then a set of tools lets you push, pull, bend, and massage the sketch into a final 2D rendering. The ability to use the mouse to work with the sketch, instead of learning a complex set of modeling language tools or mastering a number of manipulation icons, was a welcome innovation. Once you've completed your 2D rendering, a 3D version is generated and can be manipulated in real time onscreen to allow fine-tuning. Once done, you can import your model into Autodesk 360 or AutoCAD and share the design, as well as output to a number of 3D printers with STL files.

Autodesk Inventor Fusion requires a pretty decent set of hardware to really show off, and 4GB of RAM is about the minimum to work effectively in real time, but if your MacBook or iMac has the power, this is a lovely package. Being able to go from rough sketch to finished 3D model in a few minutes was both thrilling and fun. With access to a 3D printer the fun turned real, as we output several models created in Autodesk Inventor Fusion to actual plastic prototypes. While 3D modeling and printing isn't for everyone, Autodesk Inventor Fusion is a standard-setting product in that market.

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