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Fusion 360 vs Autodesk Inventor

fusion 360

Comparing CAD software is useful when you are looking at adding to your already existing repertoire of technology applications. However, if you are weighting up purchasing either Fusion 360, or Autodesk Inventor, then it may not be so black and white.

As providers of Fusion 360 and Autodesk Inventor, we talk to our clients every day

At Redstack, we sell products and services that support a collaborative process enabling productive teamwork from design to manufacture. As an Autodesk Gold Partner, we are talking to our customers every day and we know what they want. With increasing global competition, it is essential you are evolving your design and manufacturing processes to remain competitive. Competing on a global scale in Australia means having a good set of tools at your fingertips as well as the know how to make the best of them.

Fusion 360 has brought another level of collaboration to design and manufacture teams with its cloud based features which is moving with the trend toward more transparent teamwork. But Autodesk Inventor still has some professional grade 3D mechanical capabilities. That’s why comparing is tricky, both have same and different features and many people use both for different purposes.

Some people like to master multiple platforms, below we will do our best to describe the differences so that you can come to your own conclusion.

A brief look at both CAD applications

Fusion is a cloud enabled application that enables users to easily collaborate on projects, review designs and versions and instantly share ideas. Fusion creates an environment where a team can harness the power of collaborative technology and processes.

Fusion is a 3D modelling tool with both freeform and solid modelling capabilities, it includes simulation, visualisation, rendering,  CAM, sheet metal functionality and more, all from the one interface.  Fusion 360 also includes a 3D animation tool with 2D drawing tools and simulation software.

Inventor 3D CAD software offers professional grade 3D mechanical design, documentation and product simulation tools. It works with any 3D CAD data from other systems and also provides freeform, parametric and direct modelling. Autodesk Inventor is a well established engineering and design platform with a strong global user base.

fusion 360

Main points of difference – will Fusion 360 be the new replacement of Inventor?

At Redstack we don’t believe so. Inventor is more than twenty years old and Fusion 360 is still developing, released only five years ago. Inventor is on its 32nd release and is tried and tested in the marketplace.

Fusion is both a cloud and desktop product that runs natively on Mac or Windows and Inventor is a desktop product only for Windows OS, but can be installed on a Mac or iOS with a Windows partition.

Inventor is a multi-file extension software application whereas Fusion 360 does not use file extensions, instead it creates a “cloud cocoon” in which you design and model, which can then be shared with other team members for collaboration. There is an archiving function for Fusion 360, but its point of difference is the cloud functionality and collaborative aspects. Fusion files are available from any computer running Fusion 360 because of these cloud features.

Being more established, Inventor has more power and stability which would be expected. Inventor is better where part assemblies are required and delivers advanced functionality including FEA simulation capabilities, design accelerators, parts libraries and bolted connection calculators.

Fusion provides flexibility and allows you to work on your designs anywhere by simply logging into your account. You can access every version you have ever saved, which is very convenient for rolling back a design to an earlier state. But this may not be what large enterprise customers necessarily want to use for all of their CAD work. 

Autodesk Inventor


The long and the short?

Both products have similarities but some fundamental differences. Inventor is better suited to engineering or mechanical applications, while Fusion 360 is better suited to consumer product design. Many designers like to master both applications and use both for their different features. The great news is that Autodesk have now compiled the Product Design Collection, which includes both Inventor Professional and Fusion 360, as well as AutoCAD and a number of other great applications.

Both products are available on a subscription or pay as you go model.

The choice about what to buy comes down to personal preference, do you like mastering several products to support your design work or are you happy using only one? That is why you can download and trial the software, so that you can tinker and really get the feel for the software yourself.

Both Fusion 360 and Autodesk Inventor as part of the Autodesk Product Design & Manufacturing Collection available at

Redstack has been delivering Autodesk solutions for over 20 years, providing software, training and support with a client satisfaction rating of more than 90%.

See pricing for Autodesk Inventor, Fusion 360 and more at the Redstack online store -