Autodesk Fusion 360 & Metallic Strip Animal Sculptures


By Hung Nguyen , Applications Specialist at SolidCAD

Part 1

I love sculptures and can spend hours at museums that devoted to sculpture. I also love structural Engineering and structural sculptures. Running into Artist Sung Hoon Kang‘s stunning animal sculptures that embody the movement, speed, and chaotic energy of the wind, fascinated me. You can take a look of his work here: Metallic Strip Animal Sculptures Radiate the Energetic Flow of Wind:

Sung Hoon Kang‘s works got into in my head and made me think of how I can use Autodesk’s products such as Fusion 360 or 3DS Max to create/model these sculptures. I know Fusion 360 can combine organic shapes modelling, mechanical design, and manufacturing in one comprehensive package, but can it be used to create/model these kind of art works?

The question stayed in my head until I found a possible solution by combining Fusion 360 and 3DS MAX. After finding the approach and workflow, I created the concept models of two metallic strip animal sculptures of a dog and a horse, and posted them on Fusion 360 Gallery. You can find and download my two metallic strip animal sculptures here:—-horse-metal-strips—dog-metal-strips

Believe it or not, once you find a good workflow between 3DS MAX and Fusion 360, You can create these animal sculptures in 20 minutes or less.

Here is how:

Step 1Understanding Fusion 360 Freeform Tools

You should know that Fusion 360 is not just an awesome freeform modeler; it is also a parametric modeler. Fusion T-Splines are a combination of NURBS and Subdivision modelling that was developed in 2003.The T-splines company was bought by Autodesk and was built into Autodesk’s Fusion 360. The T-Splines subdivision surface technology in the Freeform toolset make it easy to create completely smooth, curvature continuous, ‘Watertight’ NURBS surface models, that you can convert to Solid models.

Fusion 360 Freeform tools are very helpful when you want to create an organic surface without having to spend lot of time planning and executing individual surface patches. T-spline surfaces are simple and intuitive, and it is really easy to iterate through a number of different options.

Step 2Understanding 3DS MAX Polygon modeling

Polygon modeling is more common with game design than any other modeling technique as the very specific control over individual polygons allows for extreme optimization. Usually, the modeler begins with one of the 3ds max primitives, and using such tools as bevel and extrude, adds detail to and refines the model.

Fusion 360 loves Polygon modeling objects and it can quickly convert those objects into solids for you if needed.

There are two kinds of mesh that you can import into Fusion 360; however, only mesh that came from Polygon objects can be converted to solids.

To covert triangulated mesh to solid, it needs to be converted to Editable Poly before inserting into Fusion 360. These are the steps:

  • Import triangulated mesh into 3DS Max
  • Apply Subdivide (WSM) with “Display Subdivision” turn OFF
  • Use “Collapse To” to Collapse mesh
  • Turn Collapse mesh to Poly mesh
  • Apply “Quadrify All”.

Step 3Understanding 3DS MAX Particle Flow

Particle Flow is a versatile, powerful particle system for 3ds Max. It employs an event-driven model, using a special dialog called Particle View. In Particle View, you combine individual operators that describe particle properties such as shape, speed, direction, and rotation over a period of time into groups called events. Each operator provides a set of parameters, many of which you can animate to change particle behavior during the event. As the event transpires, Particle Flow continually evaluates each operator in the list and updates the particle system accordingly.

Particle Flow provides several tools for determining where in the system particles currently reside, including the ability to change particle color and shape on an event-by-event basis. You can also easily enable and disable actions and events and determine the number of particles in each event. To speed up checking particle activity at different times during the animation, you can cache particle motion in memory. Using these tools, plus the ability to create custom actions with scripting, you can create particle systems of a level of sophistication previously unachievable.

To create a Particle Flow, you need to place a PF Source and assign the PF source to an object. I used a dog model as an example to illustrate the use of PF source in this GIF image.

Step 4Saving Particle Flow trails and Export them to AutoCAD

You can make Particle Flow to generate animated Splines and save Particle trails. The animated Splines can be exported to AutoCAD format to be used for creating structural model or Poly mesh that will be turned into solids using Fusion 360.

Step 5Creating Metallic strips from exported AutoCAD file

The AutoCAD file can now be imported back into 3DS MAX. You can turn all the splines into Polymesh by simply turn on the ‘Enable in Viewport’ under Rendering option. In my example, I chose “Rectangular” option with Length =15mm and Width = 3mm

At this stage, the model may require some modification for different strip thickness or clean up according to the artist’s design. Whenever you are ready, you can then export the entire MAX model out as a OBJ format to bring into Fusion 360 for fabrication.

All Splines with rendering thickness property can now exported to OBJ format for Fusion 360 to convert to solids.

Step 6Creating Metallic strips and complete the model in Fusion

This step is very simple. There are various Insert commands you can use to insert other file formats. These options insert data into a current Fusion 360 design rather than opening the existing Mesh (STL or OBJ format), SVG, or DXF file. Refer to the following links for more information about inserting meshes, DXF, and SVG files into Fusion 360 designs: How to insert a mesh body into Fusion 360

The next step is converting a mesh body to a b-rep or t-spline body in Fusion 360, the current limit for number of mesh elements is roughly 10,000. Meshes with greater than 10,000 elements will cause the performance of Fusion 360 to suffer and Fusion 360 may not be able to convert them to solid bodies.

On my next blog, I will discuss and share with you some tips and tricks on how to convert mesh body to a b-rep or t-spline body in Fusion 360.

You can also find me on AU 2020 by following this link and search for ‘Hung Nguyen’

Until next time…

The Multi Space Dimension of Autodesk Inventor


By Hung Nguyen , Applications Specialist at SolidCAD

Relativity says we live in four dimensions. String theory says it is 10. What are ‘dimensions’ and how do they affect reality?

With three axes, we can describe forms in three-dimensional space. And Every point is uniquely identified by three coordinates. A Sphere can be described as:  x2 + y2 + z2 = 1.

So, a sphere that sit in four-dimensional space can be legitimately described as:

x2 + y2 + z2 + p2 = 1

Our human brain can only receive and interpret a 3D world. When it comes to a 4, 5 or more dimension, our Engineering drafting become completely useless. Here are some examples I did with Inventor using its solid bodies Sweep feature:

  1. Colliding 3 dimensions to a common point, Inventor created an object that can be both sphere/cube. Is it a sphere or a cube?

2.  Inventor can also be used to create a Hypercube frame in which our Engineering Standard CAN NOT present it on a drafting paper.

These are 6 views of the same object, but why the 3 isometric views are completely different? Inventor showed that the shadow of 4D cube frame is the 3D cube.

3.  Turn 3D cube frame into a 4D spiral ramp, we can see how De Vinci created a staircase that have the same entrance, but King, Queen, servants, and chauffeurs can never run into each other 😊

4. My Klein Flower Vase is a 4D object of a 3D möbius loop.

The log was inspired after watching this fantastic video:  Things to See and Hear in the Fourth Dimension. A great and simple mathematic lecture where it shows how four-dimensional shapes appear in a 3D world in a hands-on talk. Another great reading is this Radical dimensions

What’s new in Inventor 2021

By Shannon Lundrigan, Technical Specialist MFG,  at SolidCAD

Inventor 2021 comes with many visual changes that continue to modernize and streamline the 3d modeling experience. Several productivity enhancements and one fairly major AnyCAD update round out this year’s release and make it a valuable upgrade for users of any level.
Here are some of the highlights;

Dark Theme:

The most notable visual update is the introduction of Inventor’s Dark Theme. This is available as a setting in the Application Options under the Colors Tab and follows the trend of many other applications as visual ergonomics becomes a more prevalent theme (so to speak!) among tech users. …Also; it also just looks better!

It’s worth mentioning however, that they haven’t yet got around to making everything follow the Dark Theme. The Home Screen, file transaction, and project dialog boxes are a few examples of items that didn’t quite make it into this release, which is presumably why this is being tagged as “pre-release”. So one can only assume they’re still ticking away at all the different elements. Definitely a good start anyhow.

Dock-able Property Panels:

More commands have now been added to the list utilizing this new design first introduced in 2020. Along with Bend, Coil, Combine, Copy, Decal and a few others; Frame Generator and its associated end treatment commands now follow suit. Frequent FG users will likely need a few seconds to re-acquaint themselves with the new interface but once familiar, the streamlined workflow is sure to be a welcome change.

As with the Dark Theme update, there are a few stragglers out there like the Fillet and Chamfer commands that will still have to wait their turn for a new look.

File Naming Defaults:

Mirror & Copy have now been added to the list, allowing users not only to control how these auto-generated files are named on creation, but also use attributes for their standard naming practices.
As an added update to all three file naming default tabs, users can now manipulate the browser node to display as the filename or use a combination of the available attributes, allowing for some much needed control over the model browser organization.

Frame Generator:

In addition to the dialog box face-lift, Frame Generator has had another few minor but noteworthy updates such as:

  • A new Category filter in the dialog box allows the user to narrow down the available options by general shape, making profile selection much more efficient
  • When reusing a frame member users can now choose any previously reused member (rather than having to select the original source)
  • The Trim & Extend tool now supports using a curved face as termination
  • The Notch command now includes two additional custom profiles; Custom C and Custom T
  • Trim to Frame is now more appropriately named Corner Joint

Revit AnyCAD:

One of the most noteworthy updates for users who find themselves going back and forth between Revit and Inventor, is the interoperability between the two programs. Revit files can now be inserted associatively into an Inventor Assembly, maintaining a link to the native Revit data. This means changes made in Revit will now update in Inventor simply by clicking the update button.

Drawing Workflow:

When creating pre-configured sheet formats for standardized drawings, more options and functionality have been added to further reduce time spent downstream. You can now retain edge settings (ie. edge display) as well as check the “Fit views to sheet” option to automatically scale your views on creation. In addition, flat patterns in the sheet metal environment and parts lists for assemblies are now supported.
As an added bonus for those of you who noticed it had disappeared; the Measure tool has made a comeback in 2021!

The full details on these and all other 2021 updates can be found Here

The new Rotary machining strategy in Fusion 360 CAM is a thing of beauty!

By Louis Martineau , Manufacturing Solutions Consultant at SolidCAD

The new Rotary machining strategy in Fusion 360 CAM is a thing of beauty!

Last month, I wrote that a lot of improvements and new features had recently been built into Fusion CAM. One of these is the Rotary multi-axis 3D milling strategy, which has been a very long time in coming. What this is, is a strategy for mills or mill-turns that makes use of a rotary axis to 3D-machine around a part with a ball-nose cutter. The cutter is always kept pointed towards the center of rotation. Machining can be performed milling-style, with a back-and-forth toolpath along the axis of rotation and successive incremental steps (stepover) of the rotary. Better yet, machining can be performed turning-style, front-to-back (or top-to-bottom) with constant motion of the rotary and a specified stepdown per revolution. The centerline of the tool can be slightly offset (if your machine allows it) so as to stay off the center of the cutter.

Well, I can say that the wait has paid off. We recently had a chance to put this new strategy through its paces with the help of our good friends at Dery’s Manufacturing of Regina using their big Nakamura WT-300’s mill-turns. The results were very impressive. We confirmed that using this strategy turning-style is particularly efficient, as it allows to take as big a depth-of-cut as needed and to potentially shape the part in a single pass.

This new strategy clearly fills an important void. It will be appreciated in a variety of settings, including routers with a 4th axis mounted to the side. And it will be appreciated by users who have struggled in the past with “textured” or “3D” revolved parts, including STL models.

Rotary is available as part of the “Manufacturing Extension” for Fusion 360, which includes other useful additions such as the very-powerful Steep-and-Shallow 3D strategy, borrowed from the all-mighty Powermill. The Manufacturing Extension costs 125 Cloud Credits ($125 USD) per month to access.

Like many of the other recently-unveiled goodies, Rotary is unfortunately not available for Inventor CAM. That’s too bad since Rotary is an essential strategy that deserves to be included in the base offering of Fusion CAM, as well as in Inventor CAM and HSMWorks. I encourage you to vote for this on the Inventor IdeaStation. That being said, if you are an Inventor CAM user, your Product Design and Manufacturing Collection gives you access to Fusion. If you are an HSMWorks user, you as well now have free access to Fusion 360. And Autodesk has been working very hard of late to improve data exchange between Fusion and both Inventor and SolidWorks, in order to allow you to work with Fusion in parallel with these legacy platforms. Indeed, expect that later this year, Fusion will be able to retrieve CAM toolpaths saved inside an Inventor file.

What’s new in turning? A lot!

By Louis Martineau , Manufacturing Solutions Consultant at SolidCAD

What’s new in turning? A lot!

I mentioned in my last entry that Turning saw some important (and overdue) improvements of late. Indeed, you may have noticed that the Turning/Profiling function has been broken into a dedicated roughing strategy and a dedicated finishing strategy, for much more control and to allow for output of canned cycles. This happened around the middle of last year for Fusion, and a bit later for Inventor CAM.

What you may not have noticed, however, is a myriad of small but very-welcome improvements everywhere else too. It’s a long list, and I refer you to Marti Deans’ excellent coverage here:

Also, as I said in my last post, this is apparently just the tip of the iceberg. Turning experts have joined the Fusion development team and are hard at work implementing more functionality and innovative technologies (like Adaptive Turning). I hope to see a lot of the power of PartMaker ported to Fusion CAM!

Tons of new goodies for Fusion 360 CAM

By Louis Martineau , Manufacturing Solutions Consultant at SolidCAD

Tons of new goodies for Fusion 360 CAM

Since I last wrote here, there have been big, big changes to Fusion CAM (excuse me: “Fusion Manufacturing”). These changes range from completely new (and it needs to be said, very useful) machining strategies, to significant progress in the implementation of probing technology, to new love for turning, and to subtle but much-appreciated improvements to the user-interface.

The biggest changes are contained within the Manufacturing Extension, a new subscription add-on for Fusion CAM. The idea is that while Fusion CAM (and Inventor CAM and HSMWorks, for that matter) is a modern and very competent CNC programming solution that can make short work of most jobs at a VERY attractive price, there are some customers that require still more power and that are willing to pay a little extra for it. Mold makers are a good example. In the past, the limited multi-axis toolpaths of Fusion CAM did not quite meet their needs. With the new Steep-and-Shallow strategy as well as toolpath trimming / direct editing (both technologies gifted from PowerMill), that has all changed. The Manufacturing Extension also opens the door to surface inspection and on-machine verification, a very hot button for anyone trying to increase efficiencies and get an advantage. Throw in automatic hole recognition technology (thanks, FeatureCAM) and a new Rotary multi-axis 3D milling strategy (this one is all Autodesk), and there is something for everybody. How much for these new goodies? 125 Cloud Credits ($125 USD) per month, month-to-month.

And those other improvements? How about a new tool library interface? The old one definitely was a little clunky. And for those of you who make extensive use of user-templates to capture their best practices (why isn’t everybody?), how about a new interface that will allow you to sort and better manage everything?

I haven’t talked about turning yet… It can be said that while Fusion CAM  / HSM CAM has traditionally been a competent turning solution, most of the R&D over the years has gone into making it a premier milling solution. But a dedicated turning team has now been brought into the development team, and turning is now getting the love it has always deserved. In my next blog, I’ll list all the recent changes (it’s a very long list of small but significant changes). What’s more, we are promised many more such improvements throughout the year, including something called Adaptive Turning that sounds very promising.

Please note that the Manufacturing Extension is free to use right now through June 2020. So, by all means, give it a spin! Several of the other new features are available through the preview mode: just activate what you want under Preview Features in your Preferences; everything is quite stable.

Now, it is quite apparent that Autodesk is turning Fusion into its premier CAM solution. That’s great news and we welcome all the improvements to an already-great CAM. However, if you are a user of Inventor CAM (or HSMWorks), don’t hold your breath for things like Steep-and-Shallow. Instead, Autodesk would rather you fire up the Fusion 360 entitlement included with your CAM. And to make it easier to use two platforms in parallel, recent changes now allow Fusion to play extremely well with Inventor and even SolidWorks.

Sharing is Caring

 By Imran Bhutta , Implementation Consultant at SolidCAD

Sharing is Caring

In todays manufacturing world there is a bigger demand on sharing data with all stakeholders outside your company.  This could be your supplier, buyer, manufacturing team and they could require viewing the drawing to the 3D model that you create.  Using Autodesk Vault you can created a shared view for your outside stakeholders and value chain.  Autodesk provides this as a free viewer, markup and comments, all they would need to do is sign up for a free Autodesk account.  Also Share View is a great tool to use internally as well to do digital markups and collaboration outside the engineering department.

To use Share View simply log into Autodesk Vault and find the model or drawing you would like to share and right click and select Share View:

You may be prompted to login using your Autodesk account, once you have logged in the Create a Shared View dialog box will prompt you to enter a name:

Enter the name you would like and then click on Share, and it will start to process the shared view.

Once complete a Share View Complete Dialog will display that it was uploaded successfully and it will give you a copy link and view in browser option.

Copy Link – This is the link you can email to your stakeholders for them to open and view online.

View in Browser – this will open the shared view in your browser for you to view.

Clicking on View in Brower it will launch the Share View online:

This view will only be available for 30 days on Autodesk Viewer.  Only users who are invited though the link or when selecting share will have access to the model or drawing.

Once singed in users can markup, add comments and when clicking on share, it will send the users in Vault a notification that someone has made a comment on the drawing.

To make a comment simply select comments to type a comment directly.  Anytime you click on Markup the markup changes will be saved on the comments tab when you select Post.

In Vault client to view the comments or markups make sure that Shared Views Panel is turned on.  If not turned on simply go to View > Shared Views and make sure there is a check mark beside Shared Views:

In the Shared Views panel the comments and markups will be shown:

To make a comment back simply click on Reply and it will take you back to the Autodesk Viewer to continue the collaboration between your company and stakeholders.
As you can see getting data to correct users at a timey manor is critical in todays business.  Autodesk Vault Professional and Shared Views enables you to connect the value chain and make sure everyone has the data they need.  Also, Autodesk viewer is not just limited to Inventor or AutoCAD drawings and models if you go directly to you can sign into your account and upload the following files for collaboration:

Remember Sharing is Caring and happy collaborating!!

Dynamo for Autodesk Fusion 360 – Made Simple

 By Hung Nguyen , Applications Specialist at SolidCAD

Dynamo for Autodesk Fusion 360 – Made Simple

Dynamo Studio is typically associated with Revit; however, it offers a fantastic platform for algorithmic-driven design and easy parameter manipulation in Fusion 360. It also features great T-spline and surface support for complex geometry creation, for those wishing to bring a degree of parametric control to their surfacing with ease.

The add-in supports a bi-directional data exchange between Fusion 360 and Dynamo Studio, allowing users to create visual logic for Fusion 360 parameters update. It can be downloaded here:

It provides an ability to use a visual editor environment to modify Fusion 360 model parameters, view and use them in complex logical graphs. Fusion 360 parameters will be automatically updated from Dynamo Studio using custom input and output nodes.
Dynamo for Fusion 360 Supports Dynamo Studio 2017 version: 1.1 – 1.3.

The benefits of using Dynamo with Fusion 360 are:

  • Very complex and rapidly reconfigurable T-Spline surfacing is
  • Parameter driven components can be modified live using sliders to adjust
  • Parameter driven components can have logic integrated to link different parameters and make automatic adjustments according to conditional
  • Parameter driven assemblies can be modified live and can adapt if setup
  • Parameter driven assemblies can have logic integrated to link parameters from different components to respond to changing geometry according to conditional

One of Dynamo – Fusion 360 Workflows is called “Synchronous workflow”. It is directly manipulating parameters listed in the parameter table in Fusion 360. This can enable rapid reconfiguration of assemblies and components by using sliders, or logic can be incorporated to describe relationships between geometry. If you have not tried, here are some simple steps to try:

 Step 1: Create a simple Fusion part with some name parameters as shown:

Step 2: Save and name the part as “Dynamo-Fusion”

Step 3: Go to Tools -> DYNAMO FOR FUSION to run Dynamo

Dynamo will create a same name parameter file with extension “.json” that contains all extracted parameters from Fusion 360 part and stored under:  C:\Users\ (your username) \AppData\Roaming\Autodesk\Autodesk Fusion 360\API\AddIns\Dynamo for Fusion\exported parameters\

Step 4: In Dynamo’s search bar, search for “output” and insert “Fusion 360 Output” node. Repeat search for “Slider” and insert “Number Slider” node.


Step 5:
In Dynamo, connect File Path to “Fusion 360 Output” and “Number Slider” to any parameter and set Min, Max and Step. Use the slider to size or adjust the features.

If you would like to manipulate other parameters, then just add more sliders. Simply select the slider node and use Ctrl+C to copy and Ctrl+V to paste it. After that you can customise each slider values (Max, Min, Step) and connect it to any of the parameters and watch the part update. You can even connect a slider to more than one parameter (i.e. to make a square cut).

Using Dynamo with Fusion360 can be fun and simple. Try it and have fun with Dynamo for Fusion 360.

Frame Generator End Caps in Inventor 2020

By Shannon Lundrigan, Technical Specialist MFG,  at SolidCAD

In the 2020 release of Inventor, the Frame Generator Design Accelerator received a number of minor enhancements as well as one of significance that likely has users asking how they ever lived without it.
You can now create and insert end caps to a frame member within Frame Generator.

Here’s how:

First; you must have the Custom Content Center Library installed in order to use this feature. Learn how to do that here.

Once you have frame members ready for end caps, follow these steps to quickly create and add the components:

  • Select “Insert End Cap” on the Frame panel of the Design tab within your assembly;




  • Select the end faces of the members you wish to apply end caps to.







  • Choose the placement: Inset, or outward
  • Choose the profile style: Filleted, Chamfered, or Sharp corners
  • Enter the Chamfer/Fillet size (if applicable), Thickness, Inset (or Offset) distance & Rotation angle






  • Select the desired part properties, then OK (or “+” to add additional end caps for different tube profiles without exiting the property panel)





The end caps are created as members of the frame assembly and the file naming can be controlled in the same way (using “File Naming Defaults” in Application Options). Inventor recognizes identical members upon creation and reuses the end cap files where possible, rather than duplicating them.

End caps can be edited or reused like frame members, using the right click menu in the model browser (“Edit with Frame Generator”)

HSM CAM Tips and Tricks: Equation-Driven Parameters

I will be publishing quick Tips and Tricks regularly to help make you more productive and to capture your best practices.

One of my favorite such tricks is using “smart fields” or equation-driven parameters.

Virtually all fields in the CAM interface that accept numerical values can also accept equations that reference constants or reference other parameters/fields. Right-clicking on the field and selecting “Edit Expression” brings up an input box wherein you can enter a constant value or build at equation. Once you are done, right-click again and select “Make Default” so that this change is remembered the next time you use this machining strategy again.

An example where a constant might make sense is plunge feed rate for operations other than drilling operations. Indeed, this is an approach speed that is largely independent of tool type or size. Perhaps you want this to always be a nice and slow 20 IPM until the program is proven safe. Stock-to-leave is another parameter that could be set to a constant.

Referencing another parameter introduces more power. For example, several parameters can be made dependant on the cutting feed rate.

Indeed, you can set the lead-in and lead-out feed rates to vary proportionally with the cutting feed rate. Similarly, the reduced feed rate for inner corners specified under “Feed Optimization” should also vary proportionally with the cutting feed rate defined under “Feed and Speed”. An expression referencing cutting feed rate would look like this:

(tool_feedCutting * 0.5)

Several parameters can be made dependent on the tool diameter. Indeed, stepovers and stepdowns are prime candidates, as are lead-in/lead-out segment definitions, spiral entry diameter, and stock-to-leave values. An expression referencing tool diameter would look like this:

(tool_diameter * 0.5)

Finally, expressions can contain logic and can combine the two approaches described above.

For example, stock-to-leave might be controlled by an expression that considers tool diameter, but defaults to a minimum value below a threshold tool diameter.

(tool_diameter >= (.250in) ? (tool_diameter * .05) : (.010in))

Expressions can be as complicated as you can make them. They just need to respect JavaScript syntax.

A complete list of parameters that can be used in expressions is found here:

Investing two hours into setting up expressions for various machining strategies can go a long way towards capturing your best practices and automating HSM CAM, resulting in increased programming consistency and decreased programming time.