What's the benefit of using Fusion 360 for designing the robot?

Hello everyone,

This is our first year doing VRC, and we are thinking about using Fusion 360 to design our robots. I spent the long weekend trying to learn how to use it, it’s not easy, building up a basic drive train would take me like 1 hour.

So what’s true benefit of using Fusion 360 to design robot, besides the cool 3d model which looks really professional.


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with practice you can CAD robots much much faster than you could ever physically build them. And once you finish your robot CAD, you can build it exactly as you designed it, letting you build very quickly, saving you a ton of time overall, and letting you make very precise and well-planned designs.


Also, keep in mind that industrial level CAD, whether it is fusion 360 or any of the other CAD packages available to students, is not so much a self-paced learning experience if you want to use it well. Certainly, after a few tutorials and such, you can learn to assemble parts from a library. But remember that professional CAD operators typically have a 2-year associate’s degree, so don’t get discouraged if you feel like it takes a while to learn the basics. If you really enjoy CAD, though, be sure to look into the many opportunities you have for learning the various professional level CAD packages. Don’t limit yourself to fusion 360, but take advantage of the educational licenses for SolidWorks, UGNX, and Onshape.


I am in love with Autodesk Inventor, so I kinda am required to say take the time to learn Inventor too.


alot of things are good about cad.

  1. You can work on the bot anywhere with a computer. If one person gets sick or goes on vacation, they can contribute
  2. You can layout a design that your teammates will build to your specifications. No more misunderstood directions
  3. Looks good for note booking as you have clear images and can show each part of a bot
  4. You can plan plastic easily. Since plastic is single-use in most cases, you know what size and shape to cut it to without having to remeasure
  5. You can create BOM with cads which speeds up build time
  6. You can share your design easily

…and carry out quick geometry and kinematic experiments that would be impossibly fiddly and time consuming in meat/metal space. Then you can do the dynamics in Inventor or somesuch. In this model from a couple of seasons ago, the tray is largely omitted and replaced with a sphere at its centre of mass when full.


Thanks a lot for everyone’s response, very helpful. Blaziumm mentioned about Inventor, so a silly question here, should we use Fusion 360 or Inventor? Or we need both? I am a bit confused hre.

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I have used both, but personally prefer inventor, because it runs better with large assemblies and seems a little faster to me. Make sure to use good libraries though, here are good ones for both fusion and inventor:
VEX Inventor Library Release Log
VEX CAD Fusion 360 Parts Library Release Log


I have been using fusion 360 for a while now, but I’ve been wanting to switch to inventor. The only reason I haven’t done so yet is because of the high system requirements compared to fusion’s which are a lot less demanding. Does anyone know if an i5-7300HQ with 8GB of ram will be sufficient for inventor?

I would personally recommend you use protobot. While it may not be a industry level cad software it’s very easy to use.

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I could go on for days about what I like about Inventor, and that’s great, but at the end of the day I am not doing your models, you are, Fusion and Inventor both have pluses and minuses, think of it as Unity vs Unreal, use the fact that you are a student and use the student plan to try both out, then pick and learn what you like. Give both a try, a good try.

I tried fusion and agree with you its hard to learn, so I did switch to inventor and its much faster and user firendly in my opinion, I also believe its easier to make custom polycarbonate pieces that can be laser cut to specific dimensions.

It’s also easy to make custom polycarbonate in fusion. You can even use the sheet metal workspace if you want to design bends nicely and then create a flat pattern for cutting. Although I would recommend against cutting polycarbonate on a laser cutter unless you know EXACTLY what you are doing, otherwise you risk damaging the optics and releasing very toxic fumes. Some other kinds of legal plastic can be laser cut, but for polycarbonate use a CNC router or a paper stencil and a band saw instead.

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Thanks a lot, really appreciated everyone’s feedback, we’ll try both Inventor and Fusion and report back our experiences.

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Don’t forget about OnShape. Most of my schools had a planed transition from Inventor to Fusion360 in 2020, but when covid hit we found that OnShape was actually the best solution for most. Our entire district has basically gone to OnShape since then. OnShape is made by PTC, the same company that makes Creo and is 100% web based. It can run on anything, including a Chromebook. This is especially useful for teams during the summer as they can work on collaborative designs together in real time from anywhere they have an internet connection.

Fusion is a great product, and we use it in a number of labs because it can directly interface with CNC machines. Whatever your choice it’s really about how it will be used and what your work environment is like. Here’s the basic breakdown for my competition teams:

FRC 118 - Creo
FRC 324 - OnShape
VRC teams - OnShape (a handful use Fusion)
BEST HS team - OnShape
BEST MS teams - Fusion

edit: I guess I should also point out that PLTW provides all of their lessons in OnShape and Fusion (campuses choose on or the other to teach). If you have PLTW classes in your schools, this would be what students are getting in the classroom which will help robotics competitors.


I’ll also point out for those who don’t know that SolidProfessor has a number of free introduction courses and paid advanced courses for all kinds of software including OnShape, Fusion 360, and Inventor. These are great starting points for you and your students to learn the basics of any of these options.


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