The 7 Best Alternatives to Fusion 360

Sammy Ekaran

3D Software, Guides, Rankings

Fusion 360 is a powerful 3D CAD software that allows you to create 2D drawings and 3D models both online and offline. However, it has weak support for organic sculpting, and working with complex patterns is resource-intensive as it needs a lot of CPU and it tends to get sluggish and crash.

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

For example, you cannot import SolidWorks files (SLDPRT) and you can’t output your 3D models in a similar format.

Some alternatives we’ve listed offer similar levels of powerful features, use fewer resources of your computer, and support most 3D file formats – and some are even free.

In this article, we shall discuss the best alternatives to Fusion 360 and why they are a great fit.

Let’s get started!

What is Fusion 360, and What are its Limitations?

Some disadvantages can prompt one to look for an alternative. These include:  

  • Lack of other software file format compatibility: The free version doesn’t support file formats like SolidWorks and Maya files.
  • It’s not completely free: Fusion 360 comes has a limited personal license that is only free for only 3 years. You may also not qualify if your business earns a certain amount in revenue.
  • Keyboard shortcuts can’t be customized: You will need to use them as they are.
  • It’s not ideal for organic sculpting: The sculpting tools of Fusion 360 could be more powerful, and creating organic shapes takes time.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Limited use in free version: Fusion 360 users are limited to 10 open documents.
  • 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. Autodesk Inventor – Parametric Modeling Software

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

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

This is made possible by Autodesk Inventor’s ability to create multi-level assemblies and even simulate the behavior of components in a realistic environment. 

2D drawing can also be done seamlessly in Inventor. The drawing tools are industry standard and they can be used to create both simple and complex drawings. The most basic drawing tool is the line tool, which can be used to draw straight lines or curves. 

Autodesk Inventor also has other key features that make it a great alternative to Fusion 360.

One of these is its history-based modeling, which allows you to go back and make changes to your model without having to start from scratch. This can save you a lot of time and frustration, especially when working on large or complex projects. 

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.

2. PTC Creo – Parametric and Augmented Reality Software

  • 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 has a wide 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. As a result, this program provides a fast and efficient way to complete 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.
  • 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.

3. Onshape- Cloud-based CAD Software

  • 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 is a parametric CAD application that runs in the cloud and on any device.

It is a CAD application that allows users to collaborate on designs in real-time and it also offers version control and unlimited undo/redo capability.

Onshape has been designed from the ground up for the cloud, which means that you can take advantage of the world’s increasing computer power and work without any downloads or file transferring. This makes it ideal for complex design tasks that would be impossible to do on a local computer.

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

When You Should Choose Onshape:

  • Simple and intuitive modeling: Onshape’s interface is simple and straight forward and getting started is easier.
  • 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.

4. FreeCAD – Free and Open Source Alternative to Fusion 360

  • Cost: Completely free
  • Operating system compatibility: Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux
FreeCAD- Free and Open Source Software

FreeCAD is a great alternative to fusion that is free. It is open-source design software.

FreeCAD is a general-purpose feature-based, parametric modeler used by engineers, architects, and other professionals who create or modify designs intended for manufacture or construction.

Parametric modeling allows you to easily modify your design by going back into your model history and changing its parameters. This makes the design process much faster since you don’t have to start from scratch every time you want to make a change.

However, FreeCAD’s features are less advanced than Fusion 360. For example, it doesn’t have CAM features for CNC, but it’s a good free tool for 3D CAD design.

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 from: FreeCADWeb


5. SketchUp – Simple and Intuitive Fusion 360 Alternative

  • Cost: SketchUp GO: $119/yr, SketchUp Pro: $299/yr, SketchUp Studio:  $699/yr
  • Operating system compatibility: Windows, and macOS
SketchUp- Simple and Intuitive Software

SketchUp Make is a great alternative for those looking for easy-to-use CAD software and a program to customize shortcut keys. It has all the same features as Fusion 360 like collaboration, rendering, and simple animation tools, but it is much simpler to use. 

SketchUp can be used for everything from designing buildings and bridges to creating detailed illustrations of products.

SketchUp is available in both free and paid versions. The free version is sufficient for most users, but the paid version has more features and is better suited for professional use.

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.
  • If you would like to customize shortcut keys: You can edit the shortcut keys to your preferences to make your designing process easy and faster.
  • 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.

6. Solidworks – Professional Fusion 360 Alternative for Industry

  • Cost: Starts from $4000 a year. The student version costs $100/yr
  • Operating system compatibility: Windows, and macOS
Solidworks- Professional CAD Software

Solidworks is another great alternative for those who are looking for professional CAD software.

It has all the same features as Fusion 360 like assembly performance, enhanced collaboration simulation, and design analysis, but it is much more powerful. 

As compared to Fusion 360, Solidworks is used in a variety of industries including automotive, aerospace, and consumer products as it can be used to quickly design prototypes. This is achieved through advanced and detailed drawing modes and faster sketching capabilities of Solidworks.

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. SelfCAD – Browser-Based and User-Friendly Alternative for Beginners

  • 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
SelfCAD- All in one Software

SelfCAD is another great alternative to Fusion 360 that is easy to use. It has many features that make it a great tool for both beginners and experienced designers. 

One of the best things about SelfCAD is that users can model, sculpt, and slice designs without requiring any additional software.

An in-built slicer is also available that is useful in preparing your designs for 3D printing.

When You Should Use SelfCAD:

  • 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 a 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.

FAQs:

What is the best alternative to Fusion 360?

There are many alternatives to Fusion 360, but the most popular one is probably Solidworks.

Solidworks is a powerful 3D CAD software that can be used for product design, simulation, and manufacturing. It has a wide range of features and tools that make it a great choice for those looking for an alternative to Fusion 360. 

Is FreeCAD similar to Fusion 360?

There are some similarities between FreeCAD and Autodesk’s Fusion 360, but there are also some key differences.

Both programs are 3D CAD applications that can be used for creating models and simulations. Both programs have similar tools and features, but FreeCAD is open source and free to use, while Fusion 360 is a paid subscription service.

Is Fusion 360 easier than Blender?

If you’re just starting, then Fusion 360 is the best option as it’s a bit more user-friendly and intuitive.

Blender is a bit overwhelming with its vast array of features when one is getting started. However, once you get the hang of it, Blender can be extremely powerful and flexible. 

Is Fusion 360 no longer free for hobbyists?

Yes, Fusion 360 for personal use is still free. However, it’s not free forever; hobbyists are required to renew their licenses after 3 yrs for $495/yr.

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