I have previously reviewed Fusion 360 and have since been gaining experience using it. I find it to be a very capable CAD application package that I rather enjoy using it too. Since most of my design experience has been using PTC Creo, I have had to relearn a lot of tools but the process has been fun (sometimes frustrating but mostly fun). To be absolutely clear, I have no architectural design experience. I am building this out of observation from hands-on experience.
These are my musings about it after spending several hours on it, understanding how to design a more complex assembly. For this project, I set my units to inches and I worked at designing my ideal garage with the idea that I am renovating the existing structure. I have many unanswered questions about the structure I am digitally assembling this at the time of writing but I hope to do updates on it as the project progresses.
I started out by placing the two walls I have to keep of my existing garage (over sized crappy shed). As I am “grandfathered in” to the current location so tearing it down and rebuilding would not be possible.
For the remaining two walls, made primitives based on the size, none of the details of the structure which consists of the Length and height of the walls along with the opening for the garage door. At this time, the details are not real important. I just need to have my limits set using the existing walls. The plan is to widen, lengthen and heighten the building to make it useful.
Keep in mind that none of this has yet been approved so much of this design might change. I may have also over-built or under-built aspects of this as I also have yet to have a professional look it over before I submit the permit.
The vast majority of my experience doing mechanical design has been using Creo which is a fantastic parametric modeler. The big difference with Fusion 360 is, everything is parametric, including the assembly process, inclusive of each position change. Every time you move a component or body, that is another feature. I wasn’t really paying attention to this so it made my design a bit of a mess. What I learned in the process of laying out my garage was that I should have had a better idea of the structural requirements prior to placing the first 6×6 posts. Some basic calculations before placing the first post would have been smart. I ended up stepping back the design and laying out the footprint as a sketch because I didn’t take into account the basic lumber dimensions for plywood.
I had far, far too many “reposition features” in my history which made editing the history rather time consuming. The upshot is that I was able to correct all the weirdness I put into the model by stepping through it and clearing out all the extra moves. I certainly won’t make this mistake again in the future.
The ease of setting the material appearance makes designing a lot more fun. There are many options for appearance from wood, to paint to metals. Since I am working with digital wood, I went with pine, ultimately. I would have chosen a “pressure treated” pine but that wasn’t an option so pine will do.
Although Fusion 360 has datums, they don’t work in exactly the same way as they do in Creo. I had to make many changes in the way I created interface points. At this time, I do feel like Creo has a more powerful datum plane, axis and point system but I haven’t put nearly as much time in Fusion 360 as I have Creo. Maybe I am wrong on this and my lack of knowledge about the application is the issue and there are, perhaps, functions I have yet to discover.
This is to illustrate were I made excessive lengths and widths in the footprint of this design. I can not only save a lot in materials by shaving off a few inches but I can also save in time as well not making excessive cuts. I am quite certain I won’t miss those few inches.
I really like the pattern tool in Fusion 360. The process of adding components and bodies is very straight forward and intuitive. You have the option of setting an overall length and number of features to pattern or the spacing and total quantity. You can easily pattern in two dimensions which is super handy for laying out the floor decking in this design.
Another neat aspect of the pattern function is that you can turn off / suppress specific instances. Although not pictured yet. The pull-down staircase will interrupt two of the floor joists and the decking so I will adjust the design when I get the dimensions for that component.
Another super neat-o feature in Fusion 360 is the ease of creating copies of components. In this case, if I make any modifications to the short or long walls. The copy will also update. Whether or not that works for you depends on your design intent.
Where that came in handy was when closing the space between the roof and the top of that knee-wall. I only had to create the wall once on one side with the gusset supports and the opposite side automatically updated which made the design process very enjoyable. I expected that I was going to have to mirror the changes manually but that was not the case.
I am at a stopping point with this design as I have to figure out what I want to do for the “skin” of this garage. I have options and I have to determine what I am going to do with my house so that the exteriors match. The thought of regretting a color choice and siding style makes me very uneasy so I must get this figured out before I buy the siding.
I am quite happy with the current stage of development. I have worked out a lot of my questions through the process of laying it out. I may have over designed much of it, or maybe not. I am not a builder but I have assisted with many other building projects so I am basing this off of my past observations.
As an aside. The Fusion 360 Android App is really quite nice. I have only used it for viewing thus far. There are measuring tools and annotation tools for design collaboration. There is much to learn about this mobile app yet but the novelty of it is certainly strong.
I really don’t know if Fusion 360 was ever intended on being used for “architectural design” or not but I had fun doing it. I can very easily made modification and extract the necessary dimensions as needed when I go to build this. Having the mobile application is nice for just looking at it as well and as I am picking up the lumber for it, I can look at the 3D model very easily and verify whatever it is I am thinking about.
I am still only scratching the surface of Fusion 360. The more I use it, the more I like it. I am very happy by the ease of use, and resource utilization of this application. It doesn’t tax my aging system much and the fact that the tools are intuitive makes working on projects very enjoyable.
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Fusion 360 Overview on Autodesk.com
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