Fusion 360 is a powerful 3D CAD software for creating 2D drawings and 3D models both online and offline, with built-in features for CAD, CAM, PCB, and CAE. However, while Fusion 360 can do many things – it isn’t the best at any of them. It’s the jack of all trades of CAD, but you’ll want more specialized software for your specific use case.

Fusion 360 also comes with a heavy price tag, and the personal license (which is free for 3 years) does not support some commonly available 3D file formats, like SLDPRT or MA.

There are many reasons for using an alternative to Fusion 360. You may need a simpler, less expensive CAD, or a more powerful CAE software. 

We’ve ordered our list of the best Fusion 360 alternatives by skill level: easiest to use first, and most complex last. Pick which works best for you!

Best Alternatives to Fusion 360 – Full Round-Up

  • SketchUp – Best for Interior Designers, Hobbyists, and Woodworkers
  • SelfCAD – Best for Beginners and Learning
  • FreeCAD – Best Free Software for Mechanical Design
  • Onshape – Best SaaS CAE and Best for Collaboration
  • Autodesk Inventor – Best for Cost-Aware Manufacturers
  • Solidworks – Best for the Machinery Industry
  • Solid Edge – Best for Personal Engineering Use
  • PTC Creo – Best for Larger Manufacturers

Reasons NOT To Use Fusion 360

  1. Not the most powerful: Its modeling and CAE features are not as advanced as the industrial machinery software we list – you’ll need more powerful and expensive software for advanced CAE tools.
  2. Not the easiest to use: Fusion 360 is somewhat easy to use, but woodworkers, hobbyists, and novices have simpler alternatives.
  3. Lack of file format compatibility: The free version doesn’t support file formats like SolidWorks and Maya files.
  4. It’s not completely free: Fusion 360’s price is completely justified, and it’s also free for personal use up to 3 years. But, there are completely free options. 
  5. It’s not good for organic sculpting: Creating organic shapes takes time.
  6. 2D drawing capability lacks in some areas: You can create 2D drawings but there are issues with leader lines on the “Diameter Dimensions” as they are not well aligned according to ISO standards.
  7. It’s sluggish when creating large assemblies: Fusion 360 can struggle with many components in a single design, which can cause it to crash or freeze.
  8. Limited use in free version: Fusion 360 users are limited to 10 open documents.
  9. There is no direct Augmented Reality integration: You have to use the ENTiTi add-in to be able to view Fusion 360 models in AR.

Top Fusion 360 Alternatives for 3D Modeling

1. SketchUp – Best for Interior Designers, Hobbyists, and Woodworkers 

  • Cost: SketchUp Free: free, SketchUp GO: $119/yr, SketchUp Pro: $299/yr, SketchUp Studio: $699/yr
  • Operating system compatibility: Windows, and macOS
Image Source: 3DSourced.

SketchUp Advantages Over Fusion 360

  • Much easier and more intuitive
  • 3D warehouse with premade designs
  • Offline and online versions

Fusion 360 Advantages Over SketchUp

  • Parametric modeling
  • More powerful
  • Not just CAD but other CAE tools

SketchUp is much easier to learn than Fusion 360, so opt for SketchUp if you’re a beginner or newer hobbyist.

A big difference between the two software is their approach to 3D modeling. SketchUp focuses on designing surfaces, while Fusion 360 makes surfaces and solids and focuses on parametric modeling. 

What this means for you is that if you’re designing precise or scalable mechanical objects, Fusion 360 is the better choice. But for simple designs, SketchUp is easier and faster. 

Also, while SketchUp is popular for CAD, you can’t use it for CAE. So, mechanical engineers and product designers should choose Fusion 360 over SketchUp, but interior designers, woodworkers, beginners, and hobbyists will prefer SketchUp.

SketchUp has a 3D warehouse which is a library of ready models with over 4.8 million designs that you can download and use. It also has offline and web-based versions that you can buy but the free version is only online. 

When You Should Choose SketchUp

  • Simple and intuitive software: If you are looking for professional 3D software that is easy to use, you should consider SketchUp. Its user interface is designed to be simple.
  • Versatile software: SketchUp is incredibly versatile. You can use it to create designs for both small and large projects. Whether you’re working on a home renovation or designing a new skyscraper, SketchUp will meet your needs.

2. SelfCAD – Best for Beginners and Learning 

  • Cost: There is a limited free version. The premium version costs $14.99/m, $139.99/yr, or $599 for a perpetual license
  • Operating system compatibility: Windows, macOS, and web browser
Image Source: 3DSourced.

SelfCAD is the best Fusion 360 alternative for those starting to learn 3D modeling. The best thing about SelfCAD is its interactive in-built tutorials. These are hands-on: you don’t watch YouTube tutorials, but instead complete gamified design tasks to reach the next level. This way, you’ll learn all of the 3D design concepts and see how they connect.

SelfCAD’s user interface is much more intuitive than Fusion 360. Even the features in the tool panel are presented in order, from the simplest to the most advanced.

Another advantage of SelfCAD is that it has both an online and an offline version, while Fusion 360 only runs with internet connectivity. Plus, SelfCAD’s online version can be accessed with any web browser, while Fusion 360 runs only on Windows and macOS.

One of the best things about SelfCAD is that users can model, sculpt, and slice designs without requiring any additional software. They’ve built an in-built slicer so you can prepare your designs for 3D printing without leaving the software.

Overall, while Fusion 360 suits professionals better, SelfCAD has many advantages for beginners and learning 3D design.

When You Should Use SelfCAD:

  • If you want to learn 3D design with an interactive hands-on tool.
  • If you want to design and slice models for 3D printing in one tool: The in-built slicer of SelfCAD helps prepare your designs for 3D printing.
  • Sculpt organic objects: There are powerful sculpting brushes available to sculpt and modify characters easily.
  • Easy to use: SelfCAD comes with many interactive tutorials to help anyone get started easily. The interface is also intuitive and user-friendly.
  • If you want powerful rendering software: SelfCAD comes with a powerful rendering engine that helps you generate realistic images of your designs.
  • If you want a program that supports most of the commonly available 3D file formats: You can import and export in all the common file formats.

3. FreeCAD – Best Free Software for Mechanical Design 

  • Cost: Completely free
  • Operating system compatibility: Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux
Image Source: 3DSourced.

FreeCAD Advantages Over Fusion 360

  • Free and open-source
  • Offline
  • Add customized functions by Python programming

Fusion 360 Advantages Over FreeCAD

  • Easier to use
  • More design modes
  • Much better CAM

FreeCAD is a great alternative to Fusion 360 that’s a completely free and open-source design software. This has even allowed programmers to add custom functionality to it using Python. Another obvious advantage of FreeCAD is that it runs locally on your computer and doesn’t need an internet connection.

Both FreeCAD and Fusion 360 focus on parametric modeling, and have tools for mechanical design. FreeCAD is used by engineers, architects, and other professionals who create or modify designs intended for manufacture or construction. 

However, there are several differences. FreeCAD is free and open-source and offline, while Fusion 360 is free only for personal use and is cloud-based. Fusion 360 is easier to use, has a far superior CAM for CNC, and offers more free-form and sculpting modeling tools.

However, Fusion 360 is mainly just used for mechanical design and parametric modeling, and lacks the tools that FreeCAD has for sculpting and surface design tools. 

Overall, I recommend only switching to FreeCAD if you’re mostly focused on 3D modeling (and even 2D drafting). You’ll also miss Fusion 360’s tremendous CAM capabilities for CNC. And while FreeCAD does have some CAM features, it’s mostly limited to 2.5D machining for the moment. 

When You Should Choose FreeCAD:

  • If you are looking for a completely free Fusion 360 alternative: As the name suggests, FreeCAD is free to use. There are no subscription fees and it’s completely open-source.
  • Parametric modeling: If you’re looking for parametric modeling capabilities, then FreeCAD is a good option. This allows you to make changes to your design without starting from scratch.
  • Cross-platform support: FreeCAD runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. So, if you switch between operating systems frequently or you want a free fusion 360 Linux alternative, then FreeCAD is a great choice.

Where to get it: FreeCADWeb

4. Onshape – Best SaaS CAE and Best for Collaboration 

  • Cost: Standard version costs $1500 per year, professional version costs $2100
  • Operating system compatibility: Web browser, iOS, and Android
Onshape- Cloud-based CAD Software

Onshape Advantages Over Fusion 360:

  • Larger Assemblies
  • Project Management

Fusion 360 Advantages Over Onshape:

  • More Tools and design modes
  • CAM

Onshape is a parametric CAD application that runs in the cloud on your browser – so it works on any device and OS, including iPads and smartphones. Like SolidWorks, Onshape is also more suitable than Fusion 360 for designs with larger assemblies.

Onshape is focused on collaboration. Users can collaborate on designs in real time, and there’s also version control features and unlimited undo/redo capability.

Onshape has been designed from the ground up for the cloud, which brings two advantages. One is that all the processing and rendering happens on the server side (unlike Fusion 360), as well as Onshape’s collaboration and project management tools being best in class. 

Onshape is also extremely user-friendly since it’s very similar to SolidWorks, with an intuitive interface that makes it easy to learn and use as compared to Fusion 360.

However, Fusion 360 still has more diverse design modes like rich sculpting tools.

When You Should Choose Onshape:

  • Implementing SaaS: If your company feels comfortable with the SaaS model, Onshape is your best option. 
  • Easy real-time collaboration: Onshape has a version control system that ensures that everyone is working with the most up-to-date files. This allows for easy collaboration between team members and helps to keep everyone on the same page.

5. Autodesk Inventor – Best for Cost-Aware Manufacturers 

  • Price: $290 paid monthly, $2,300 paid annually, or $6,555 paid every 3yrs
  • Operating system compatibility: Windows
Autodesk Inventor- Parametric Modeling Software

Inventor Advantages Over Fusion 360:

  • Better for larger assemblies and complicated designs
  • Offline use

Fusion 360 Advantages Over Inventor:

  • More affordable
  • CAM features

Autodesk Inventor is a great alternative to Fusion 360 for those who want to easily create large and complex models. 

Overall, Inventor, SolidWorks, and Solid Edge are all at similar levels in terms of manufacturing use and complexity. And while Fusion 360 is about assembling all the designs in the same file, these three software focus on larger assemblies synthesized from smaller parts. 

Inventor has an excellent feature-rich CAD for modeling, and has powerful FEA and other analysis tools for the product’s structure design and life cycle management. Unlike Fusion 360, Inventor runs offline and needs no internet connection.

But, Fusion 360 costs much less and has tremendous CAM tools and rich free-form tools for direct modeling. Research has also shown Inventor to be more widely used in industries as compared to Fusion 360

When You Should Choose Autodesk Inventor:

  • When you want to create complex designs: Autodesk Inventor is considered less resource-intensive as compared to Fusion 360.
  • Repair or edit 3D designs: You can fix faults in parts and modify them based on your needs in Inventor. The tools work directly on the mesh and you can always revert to the previous version easily.

6. Solidworks – Best for the Machinery Industry 

  • Cost: Starts from $4,000 a year. The professional version is $8,000+. The student version costs $100/yr
  • Operating system compatibility: Windows
Solidworks- Professional CAD Software

SolidWorks Advantages Over Fusion 360

  • It’s the industry standard for larger assemblies
  • Offline use

Fusion 360 Advantages Over SolidWorks

  • Much more affordable
  • Sculpting mode and more modeling tools
  • Far better CAM
  • Runs on MacOS

SolidWorks is the industry standard for the machinery industry, and most part makers design in SolidWorks. SolidWorks focuses on assembling designs from smaller models, so it’s generally better for motion simulations, renders, PLM, FEA, and sheet metal design of larger assemblies.

However, SolidWorks is expensive and there are other more cost-effective powerful options for these projects, like Inventor and Solid Edge.

Another disadvantage is that SolidWorks doesn’t have the various rich design modes that Fusion 360 has. So, I still vouch for Fusion 360 as the best value for moeny if you don’t need to design larger assemblies.

Also, Fusion 360’s CAM is far better than SolidWorks overall – though SolidWorks has several add-ons for 5-axis CAD-CAM use. Finally, like most offline advanced CAD, SolidWorks only runs on Windows.

When You Should Consider Solidworks:

  • If you are looking for a Powerful CAD and CAE (computer-aided engineering) tool. You can easily create complex assemblies of parts and prototypes in Solidworks.
  • A tool with a wide range of analysis and tracking tools: If you are looking for a tool that can allow you to verify the strength, durability, and performance of your designs, Solidworks is your best option. 
  • Generate photorealistic renderings and animations: If you want to communicate your ideas easily using realistic renders and simple animations effectively, you should consider Solidworks.

7. Solid Edge: Best for Personal Engineering Use

  • Cost: $3,000/yr or $335/month (Classic version) – free for personal use (Community version)
  • Operating System: Windows 10 or newer (2024 version)
Solid Edge Engineering Software

Solid Edge Advantages Over Fusion 360

  • Better for larger assemblies
  • Offline/online button

Fusion 360 Advantages Over Solid Edge

  • More affordable
  • CAM tools

Solid Edge is also more powerful than Fusion 360 for larger assemblies, and is as powerful as SolidWorks and Inventor. However, it costs much less than SolidWorks – though Solid Edge is still far less used in industry than SolidWorks or Fusion 360.

Siemens makes Solid Edge and its more advanced brother, NX. Solid Edge comes in 4 versions: Design and Drafting, Foundation, Classic, and Premium.

Solid Edge also has a free version for personal use (Solid Edge Community), which is still pretty powerful. However, your designs will have watermarks and are not importable to commercial versions of Solid Edge. So, Solid Edge Community is also an excellent alternative to the Fusion 360’s free version for personal use.

Overall, Fusion 360’s price and CAM capabilities just beat Solid Edge in my opinion.

When You Should Consider Solid Edge:

  • You need a more powerful CAE: Solid Edge is a better option than Fusion 360 for the requirements of the machinery industry. Its CAD, CAE, and simulation are more powerful than Fusion 360 and it can handle assemblies with more parts.
  • You need more analysis tools: Solid Edge has better FEA and analysis tools than Fusion 360.

8. PTC Creo – Best for Larger Manufacturers 

  • Price: Creo Essential: $2,390, Creo Advanced: $10,300, Creo Premium: $14,375, Creo Premium Plus: $20,000
  • Operating system compatibility: Windows
PTC Creo- Parametric and Augmented Reality Software

Creo Advantages Over Fusion 360:

  • Most advanced CAE on this list – complex designs
  • Offline use

Fusion 360 Advantages Over Creo:

  • Easier to use
  • More affordable

Creo is among the more advanced CAD and CAE tools in the industry. Like other advanced CAD, it runs offline. It’s suitable for designing complex assemblies that involve many parts, whereas Fusion 360 is not suitable for such complicated designs.

However, since Creo is not as easy to use as other alternatives on this list, don’t bother switching to it unless your company designs complex projects

Creo has powerful tools for both parametric modeling and direct modeling. Creo also has a wider range of features and tools, and it is faster as it enhances your design’s performance via its flexibility, great user experience, and even advanced virtual simulation.

For example, Creo can automatically generate 3D models from 2D drawings, saving time and effort.

The latest version of Creo also makes the work of engineers faster through real-time simulation and generative design capabilities. This is a faster and more efficient way of completing design tasks.

When you should Choose Creo:

  • Direct Editing: Creo’s direct editing feature gives users the ability to make changes to models without having to use parametric history.
  • Advanced Design: Creo is a good tool for more complex designs.
  • Creating AR Experiences: Creo’s augmented reality features let users to superimpose digital information on top of the real world. This is incredibly useful for product design and development.
  • Converting 2D drawings to 3D models: Converting a 2D drawing to a 3D model in Creo is a relatively simple process.


Is Fusion 360 easier than Blender?

Blender is more difficult to learn than Fusion 360, but it’s difficult to compare because they have such different uses. Blender is for making video animations, motion tracking, and video games, whereas Fusion 360 is for the mechanical design of parts manufacturing, simulation of mechanical products, 3D printing, and mechanical analysis of part strengths.  

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