Inventor Fusion goes Public

Published 04 February 2009

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: autodesk, autodesk inventor, synchronous technology, inventor fusion, cocreate, direct modelling

Autodesk has officially launched Inventor Fusion (we reported on it at AU late last year). The company has finally come out from the cloud of secrecy surrounding Inventor Fusion and talked to the press/media about it openly. While there’s not been a great deal new learned in the last few days (as it’s still a while away from becoming available) it’s worth answering the major questions that cropped up. We’ve also got some better quality video showing how the system works in different use cases, so let’s mix up the two.

#1: Why?

Fusion #1: Here you’ll see how the system is configured to model from scratch. Things to look out for are the stripped back UI, how the majority of commands and operations are both highly context sensitive, and present in a radial manner around the cursor.

This one is easy. Inventor is currently a history-based parametric modeling system. Quite a number of Autodesk’s competitors have been developing systems which are not. These systems allow you to dynamically edit geometry without recourse to parametric design, without recourse to history – no regeneration, not flipping hourglass. Due to the nature of these systems, they allow you to work with geometry from other systems nicely.

And those other vendors have been making quite a lot of noise about it. Hence, Autodesk’s response. Yes, I’m sure everyone’s been working on something similar. Facts of the matter are that workstations of the last 20 years (since the release of Pro/E) have not had enough power to carry out these types of calculation in one go.

As a result, each model’s construction was split up into chunks (features) and executed in linear order (history). But we’re now at a stage where the compute power in your average workstation is sufficient enough to allow to do both, simultaneously. While the development of this technology was inevitable, the release of SpaceClaim and the subsequent acquisition of CoCreate by PTC, all brought things to a head and provided the catalyst. Here we are.

#2: Is it the new Inventor?

No. Not yet. It’s a technology preview. As such, its a system that you’ll be able to download and play with. Essentially, Autodesk want users to knock the rough bits off it, kick it into shape and see where it goes.

#3: Will it be the new Inventor?

No. Well. Sort of. The name is the clue. Fusion is about bringing in a new technology into the Autodesk offering. Eventually, I would imagine and it was confirmed during the launch web-conference, that all of this technology (in whatever form it ends up once the Technology Preview is over) will become part of standard Inventor – unless users want otherwise.

#4: What’s the difference between this and SpaceClaim, CoCreate, and Siemens’ Synchronous Technology et al?

The modeling technology is not particularly unique. Whatever system you work with, if you’re working with basic, prismatic and well translated parts, then it’ll work like a dream. Step outside of that, and it won’t. Basic topology changes will be OK, dramatic ones will not.

Inventor Fusion does have some very nice User Interface details, radial menus at cursor (rather than menu), stripped back dialogs, context sensitivity – it’s all there. It’s very NX like in fact. For me, that’s a 100% good thing.

Fusion Video #2: Here you’ll see how the system works with existing geometry, making design changes and editing patterns/array. While you’ll see a feature tree to the bottom left of the UI, that’s feature only – not a history tree. So updates are made instantly.

#5: So, it looks like other systems, works like them, what’s the Big Deal?

The Big Deal is this. Now, this is only demo-ware at the moment, but the potential is huge. You can take a history+parametric+feature-based part from standard inventor into Inventor Fusion. In Fusion, you can edit the geometry of the part, delete faces, move specific instances from a pattern.

Fusion Video#3: Edits are being made to this transmission housing, using the direct modelling tools. Note how the system is pulling, dragging and droppping non-native data.

You can then read it back into Inventor, have the system interrogate the part and reconfigure the history and feature tree to accommodate those changes. Whizz bang, your part has been round-tripped successfully, edits made without recourse to history.

Now, the quick amongst you (or the cynics) will say – surely that shows that you’re lacking tools in standard Inventor. Absolutely. but consider that eventually, this technology will be one and the same system. that’s intriguing. That’s mix and matching direct editing with parametric and history-based design and maintaining that history. Creating a Fusion. That, my friends, is very interesting indeed. See, I told you it’s all in a name.

Register your interest at


I'm just glad I'm not born 10 years early and had to work with autocad raspberry<BR>The only downside with this kind of development is that everone can do it smile<BR>But the best thing about an engineer should be his engineer skills not his cad skills smile<BR>(why isn’t there a edit button in blogger? :S

Posted by Marijn1 on 01 January 1970 at 02:00 AM

It is interesting that you so easily grazed over the idea that you can send the file back into Inventor and it interogates the file and redoes the feature tree. That should scare the daylights out of anyone!<BR>It will be interesting to see how Fusion handles existing blends. From the demos that I have seen it is not taking them into consideration. The extrusion on the transmission case is a good example. After the secondary extrusion the bend is reapplied, but it give you a sharp corner where the old fillet and new fillet intersect. I would expect to see a rounded corner. Oh well, it is the beta afterall.

Posted by Anonymous on 01 January 1970 at 02:00 AM

Grazed over? I think that part took up the bulk of the post – if you feel I didn’t cover it in sufficient depth, far enough, but in my defence, this software is nowhere near shipping, EVERYTHING you read is based off either a quick demonstration at a user event or video files shown at a web – there seems little point in dwelling massively on something that’s as close to heresay as it can get...<BR>Blends are an interesting thing in all these systems. if they're simple, they work like a dream. if they're complex, editing or removing them is nigh on impossible.<BR><BR>Cheers<BR><BR>Al

Posted by Al Dean on 01 January 1970 at 02:00 AM

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