Search This Blog

Saturday 12 August 2017

Fusion 360 beginner tips

If I leave this page until I am an expert I will have forgotten what I found difficult when I just started.
Hence this page. As much a reminder for myself as a guide for others.

There are lots of video tutorials on the Fusion 360 site but harder to find are some handy reference pages covering most topics:


I find the use of the middle mouse button for Pan and Tilt unreliable. This is not specific to Fusion 360 I have the same problem in Blender. I prefer to use the keyboard in Blender but Fusion 360 has some very handy buttons at the bottom of the screen which means you can even work with a touch pad.

Click on the Pan and Tilt or the move icons and use the mouse with the normal button. Press the Escape key to exit that mode.

In addition the top right corner has a cube and you can select the faces or corners or other bits to get a quick rotation to the view you want and it is always clear which way you are looking even if your model happens to be completely symmetrical.

I find that cube the most useful.

Finding your work

This took me a minute or two.

To get back to your saved work you need to open up the left side panel using the icon in the very top left corner as highlighted in the above image.

Making changes

This was fairly clearly documented but worth repeating. When you open up your sketch it will be in a view mode.

To make changes you will need to select the script in the list and select edit.

When you have finished editing and want to see the result in 3D, use the Stop Sketch button.

Selecting Edges and Faces

  • Select one edge or face
    left click on the edge or the face.
  • Select a narrow face
    Zoom in until moving the mouse over the face changes the colour of the whole face. Then click.
  • Select multiple edges or faces
    Hold down CTRL and left click on each element.
  • Select an edge loop
    Double click any edge in the loop.
  • Group faces
    Right click on the browser, choose, Create selection Set.
    Select multiple faces.
    Use the icon on the newly created selection set to assign the faces to that set.
    Use the other icon when you want to select those faces.

You can add features that are not part of the model but used as the basis for calculating other parts of the model.

Like construction lines in hand drawn work.
This allow you to mark centres and position things parallel to faces.

Models, bodies and Patches

Models are made of bodies and patches. Those can be calculated from sketches, created from basic shapes, imported or manually modelled.
The main difference between a body and a patch is that a body must always be solid but a patch can just be a disconnected collection of faces.

Bodies - Solid manifold objects.
Patches - Do not have to be solid.

Only solid bodies can be used for cuts and joints.
Patches will automatically convert to a body if they are stitched together, using the stitch command or the holes between their faces are covered using other patches and planes.

  • Create menu - adds a new body.
  • Modify menu - makes changes to an existing body.


A component is any pre-existing model that you include in your design.
Models within your design can be converted to components.
Existing designs can be dragged from the file browser in to your design.
A component has it's own time line and can be edited separately from the rest of the design.

The components I have created retain their own orientation which gets a bit confusing when trying to move or rotate them. There is a method to capture their position [which I am not sure how to do yet.]

To edit a component. Activate it in the object browser.

To go back to the main design. Activate the top level item in the object browser.

3D Printing and STL files

There is an option on the save menu called 3D print and you can use a workflow designed by Autodesk that I have not investigated. From there you can deselect the Output to 3D print and it will save as an STL.

That's how I first started to get my models to save as STL but I now prefer the other option I came across.

Once you have joined all your bodies in to one body you can export to STL from the Browser list.

Right click on the body you want to export and select 'Save As STL'
A very similar dialogue box to the 3D print dialogue appears but defaulting to save as an STL.

Axes Z up or Y up

My 3D printer works with the Z axis up and down, X sideways and Y back to front.
Ideally, that's how I create my models.

You can change the axes direction in your preferences within Fusion 360.

Keyboard Shortcuts

There are several guides to what keyboard commands are available within Fusion 360 so I won't reproduce the whole table, just refer to one of the following guides:

Mouse Control

For using a touch pad or trackball, I have found that it is easier using the Autodesk Inventor Pan, Zoom and Orbit controls.
I typed up a short article:


Special Care

  • Centre your model about the origin.

Many functions work about the origin or a manually added construction element.
I could not find a way to automatically centre a model on the origin. You can move it manually but each group of faces needs to be selected and moved.

Tip: When you start always create your main section central to the origin.
For symmetrical models that you intend to mirror or rotate, starting with one corner on the origin may be appropriate.


Things I Could NOT Find

In such a professional looking product there were some features that I expected but that I could not find at all. In many cases I even found feature requests from as far back as 2013 and yet today in 2017 I could still not find the feature!

If anyone knows how to do these please post a comment to let me know how.

* Repeating Groups of Faces on other Faces [no idea how]
All I wanted to do was have the same feature on each side of a rectangular box.
I can copy the feature as a group of faces and I can copy sketch elements but I could not find a way to use a parameter to repeat a feature on each face.

If I copy the faces I cannot find a way to line up one face to exactly touch another face. I had to rely on the grid snap. I might be able to mirror the features. I think I will need to create an exactly central construction line.

* Wrap a shape round another shape [Feature request]

According to this forum post this is a requested feature but not implemented, as at Feb 2017.
There are features being added to the sheet metal section as previewed in another post.


I will add to this post as I find other features worth noting.

No comments :