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Fusion 360 offers a simplified user experience and faster learning opportunity of basic design tools, making it more user friendly especially for beginners. Fusion 360's workspaces are separated depending on functionalities, which makes the entire screen change according to the user's task. This feature makes it less overwhelming for users who are just starting to understand CAD modeling tools. SolidWorks, on the other hand, has customized mouse buttons and keyboard shortcuts to allow easier workflow. While SolidWorks’ UI may be overwhelming for beginners, its advanced functionality makes it the perfect tool for professionals and advanced users.

Learning Curve of Fusion 360 and SolidWorks

Fusion 360 provides basic surface, parametric and direct tools, 2D drawing capability plus printer/CAM, basic rendering, and some simulation tools. Once the user is proficient, the package can fulfill most roles. But proficiency requires steep learning curves, particularly at the start.

SolidWorks has a steeper and longer learning curve, as its functionality is deeper and wider than Fusion 360. However, for basic functionality, SolidWorks is among the easier to learn of the major CAD packages, and users should not be scared off by reputation. Building initial skills require slightly more narrowing of vision, to cut out the high-level skills. SolidWorks’ shallow menu structure helps with this.

Is Fusion 360 Easier To Learn and Use Than SolidWorks?

Yes, Fusion 360 is easier to learn and use than SolidWorks. SolidWorks can be an overwhelming environment, whereas Fusion 360 is clearer and simpler to navigate, as there is less functionality.

Fusion 360 vs. SolidWorks – Application Stability

Fusion 360 is a simpler package that puts considerably less stress on hardware and operating system than SolidWorks, making it relatively stable. Crashes do happen, but there aren’t wide market complaints about these, so overall Fusion 360 is considered stable.

SolidWorks is a deeply multi-layered package. Some of the advanced functionality can put considerable loading on hardware and memory processes. Users' approaches can also put additional stress on graphics hardware. However, these are mainly issues suffered in more complex operations and more-advanced functions. Early-stage users should take care in setting up auto backups and memory allocations. It is recommended to avoid running ahead of the software as they become more confident to prevent most stability issues.

Fusion 360 vs. SolidWorks – Customer Support

Fusion 360 customer support is generally viewed positively due to the long history of previous Autodesk® software. Like all subscription services, there are reported issues relating to payments going wrong, but this does not appear to be a large-scale problem. Overall, the service is viewed as average, or above. SolidWorks support is widely viewed as responsive and of high quality—but that’s meeting the minimum requirements of clients who have paid a lot to license a high-capability tool.

Fusion 360 vs. SolidWorks – Community

There are official and unofficial Fusion 360 user forums that can be very useful in learning and problem-solving. The Reddit community is active and supported, with current discussions on a wide range of topics. SolidWorks has such a long history and a wide user base that the official and unofficial discussion groups, message boards, and forums are extremely numerous. This can make access difficult, as not all are heavily used. However, Reddit groups are active, as are sites like vexform.com.

Fusion 360 vs. SolidWorks – Price

Fusion 360 has a range of pricing, depending on the user's needs. These are: personal, educational, start-up, and full licenses. The personal license is free but with reduced functionality. Both the educational and start-up licenses, on the other hand, are free for up to three years with certain limitations including a revenue limit for the start-up license. For the full license, users are required to pay a monthly fee of $60 for full access to tools.

SolidWorks has a price structure similar to that of Fusion 360. A SolidWorks Standard license costs $3,995, with an annual “maintenance” cost of $1,295. SolidWorks Professional is $5,490, with an annual maintenance fee of $1,495. This includes more advanced functionality. SolidWorks Premium is $7,995, with an annual maintenance fee of $1,995, and this option includes all functionality. Finally, there is a student/academic license that costs $150 per year and has all of the functionality but imprints non-removable watermarks on all output files to prevent commercial use.

Other Alternatives to Fusion 360 and SolidWorks

Many CAD systems overlap in capability, so there’s a spectrum of alternatives from freeware to high-end CAD. Some alternatives include:

  1. Catia
  2. Creo Parametric
  3. SolidEdge
  4. Free CAD
  5. Altium (PCB specific)

Summary

This article presented Fusion 360 and SolidWorks, explained what they are, and discussed how each software is used. To learn more about 3D printing software, contact a Xometry representative.

Xometry provides a wide range of manufacturing capabilities, including 3D printing and other value-added services for all of your prototyping and production needs. Visit our website to learn more or to request a free, no-obligation quote.

  1. SolidWorks® is a registered trademark of Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp.
  2. Fusion 360®, Inventor®, and Autodesk® are registered trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates, in the United States.

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Fusion 360® vs. SolidWorks® – Software Comparison