Autodesk Inventor Fusion Mechanical Design Software Free Download

Autodesk Inventor Fusion screenshot

The explosion of new computer tools for anyone with a desire to work in mechanical design and manufacturing is impressive, and here is an opportunity to try out a real heavyweight from Autodesk. You can download Autodesk Inventor Fusion, which is offered as a technical preview, and use it free of charge until it expires, but that's quite a long time down the road, January 1st, 2013 on the Mac and April 1st, 2013 for the Windows version.

Inventor Fusion derives its name from the fact that it is the first 3-D modeling package that allows users to switch between solid and surface modeling. This app enables robust mechanical engineering and spontaneous artistic expression with the same tools. It can natively export .STL files, the key file type needed to 3-D print or mill objects. It can import DWG files, making it easy to design things in Adobe Illustrator or similar vector-based programs and turn them into three-dimensional objects. There are very few things a hobbyist will need to do that this software can’t support.

Learn it, use it, put it through its paces and see if it's right for you. If you've never used CAD software like this before, here's your chance to see if you can master it, certainly no small task, but there are plenty of tutorials and online help to guide you through the process.

Autodesk Inventor Fusion

Opportunities like this to learn skills that are substantial and valuable are all around us, it continually amazes me and the only thing stopping anyone is desire and hard work. Nice!

Link: Autodesk via Wired

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  1. B50 Jim says

    WOW… it sure is a long way from my old drafting table, T-square and triangles. But as with those simple drafting tools, you have to know how to use use it to get results. Still, simply being able to imagine a design, commit it to desktop and see how everything works together is a huge step. Software this powerful has capabilities that even a talented amateur never will use, but it provides stimuli to dream up larger and more complex projects. Wonderful stuff!

    • Paulinator says


      I studied drafting for a year in high school (good course, very good instructor). T-squares, compasses, line-weights, smudges…a good foundation for what I do now. I work with SolidWorks almost exclusively, but I still find that the best way to luft a complex linkage assembly is with pencil, compass and paper. Its the quickest way to document a thought…then tweak, adjust, revise and NAIL it. Even after I know that a concept is viable, it is often a struggle to get the 3D model (and its complexities) to agree with me.

      ps, I’ll download this program and give it a ride around block.

      Thx Paul

  2. Scott D says

    Hah! Im one of the new kids on the block, so you think I would take to CAD software like duck to water….
    Wrong, I have never used a CAD program that I didnt find infuriating!
    Ive designed my complete 250 V Twin on pad and pencil.

  3. jonnyferrett says

    I have been using Inventor for the last 5 years and the fusion part for only about 12 months for my job as a mechanical design draftsman. Really good when it works but very frustrating sometimes as well.
    Paulinator, sounds like I do the same thing as you when working out geometry, only I just use a sketch in the program to much around with ideas before I go and model everthing. I then derive all my parts from that one sketch meaning if I want to update the geometry later on I just modify a dimension or two and all my parts automatically update.

  4. OMMAG says

    Yeah …. I’ve been playing around with Inventor because it’s the only way to get our engineering models rendered into usable illustrations for technical manuals. Our engineering group quits once they have a production model … never any documentation and never any work done to support the service and maintenance requirments downstream…. but I digress. What I do is put the modelled shapes into the orientation I need then open in a vector format with Ai (illustrator) and clean up the file by reducing the points and leaving just the edge lines needed. The illios go into InDesign documents and then the whole package gets published in pdf.

    Whenever I design something from scratch …. I start with paper… then illustrator …. then the cad models.

    Once common thing I have found with modelling or design software of any type is that there is NEVER a usefully intuitive interface. All software seems to be designed by programming geeks who think the user intrface should be arranged around the software operation instead of the operator’s best practice/methodology. The result is toold that force the user to adapt to the indiosyncracies of the programmer instead of the other … correct … way.

      • OMMAG says

        Thanks Justin …. I had a thrirty day trial of IP on my work PC last winter …. as did our dept. illustrator … we both saw the potential but unfortunately … our IT group gets veto over any purchases.

        Tails wagging dogs …… well try again next budget cycle.

    • gildasd says

      Amen to that.

      The old Autocad 12 was great in it’s simplicity. You can get a lot done with simple commands used logically. Now software seems to have too many choices, and the first thing to go is hierarchy in the commands.
      For exemple:
      A 180° flip with one copy is more important than a 45° array with 8 copies… Logical? Yes, but logic seems to have avoided the nerds at NX… And doing a mirror of a part/assembly – that creates a new part(s) file, with option of linking to the original, oh, that would save me hours every week. But having thoughts like that probably brand me as a infidel heretic.

  5. Wave says

    Coincidentally, I was fiddling around with Autodesk Inventor today at university.

    One thing that I would definitely say about CAD packages is that if you are going to work with them, you really have to be flexible and have the ability to quickly change from one package to another. When I first did my introductory CAD course at uni, we used Solid Edge. Then, in an advanced course, we used ProEngineer Wildfire and Catia. The university dropped Solid Edge because it isn’t used much in industry, and then dropped Catia because the local distributor increased the licensing costs too much. ProEngineer has now changed to Creo, so within the timeline of my degree, none of the packages which I was taught are still available to me! When I go out to work in industry, invariably different companies will use different software, so the ability to adapt to an unfamiliar piece of software quickly is essential!

  6. gildasd says

    I have the Inventor and Unigraphics packages at work.

    Inventor is the do it all, but the file system is pure 1995. It just tries to do too many things sometimes and gets in the way of simple stuff. Forcing me to make “dummies” or parts in Autocad 3D. But the fact of having Autocad there to do quick sketches, calculations or general plans is great.

    UG is way more specialised, it does parts, assemblies and exports plans. That’s it. And to do so, one must follow the path, stray, and it will kick you. It’s infuriating at times in it’s “there is only one way” approach and it’s printing module is pure 1995, but when you have a 200 part plus assembly that you must reduce size in one direction and it does it perfectly, you love it.

    But, as others here, I tend to “solve” my projects about 80/90% with a piece of grid paper and a pencil, and only then fire up the PC.

  7. Erik says

    I’ve been using NX exclusively since I graduated in ’07. As OMMAG mentioned, the UI is designed around the programmers perspective, not the users. I completely disagree with gildasd – UG is not specialized. It has modules for many different functions, including drafting, modelling, sheet metal, surfacing, fea, rigid body analysis, human interface, etc… which is why it is used by automotive and industrial transportation OEMs. Each of these modules requires licenses and has a unique user interface “style” you must learn.

    I like to go straight from rough sketches on paper to cad. During the sketching phase, I start to think of key design dimensions. When I begin modelling, I setup these key design dimensions as parameters and begin to setup equations for the related dimensions. When I start modelling, I do it roughly, and use these computer defined parameters to control sizing. Changing key features such as material thickness later only requires changing 1 number on 1 screen.

    I am downloading and checking out this inventer suite because I would like to have something to use at home for my projects.