Fusion 360 (F360) by Autodesk is a very powerful Computer-Aided Design (CAD) that is awesome for beginners to get in to CAD. One of the best things about it is that you can get a “Startup License” (A.K.A. ‘hobbyist license’) for free! Of course, there are limitations:
Startup: If your entitlement has been designated as “Startup, ” You may use the service if You are (a) a company, startup, or home-based business that generates less than $100,000 (or equivalent in other currency) per year from the total sale of goods or services, or (b) an individual using the service for personal non-commercial projects, hobbies, or personal learning.Autodesk Web Services Entitlements Page as of April 2019
The term for your Startup use is one (1) year from the date You are granted access. Autodesk reserves the right at any time during the Startup term to revoke access of the Startup entitlement by providing notice to You.
So, pretty simple and will cover most of my audience. I can take a pretty good guess of what you are thinking: What happens after a year? As far as I understand, since I have not used F360 long enough to confirm this, you will get a 30 days notice in the upper right corner of F360, next to your name, saying ‘Trial ends in xx days’. When you click on that notice, you will have the option to be able to renew your license. I will update this post when I am able to confirm this.
Installing and Obtaining a License
Obtaining a startup license is pretty easy and straight forward. All you need to do is sign up for an Autodesk account and install Fusion 360.
Signing up for an Autodesk Account
To register for an Autodesk account, simply visit the Autodesk registration page and fill in the information needed. You do need to provide an active email account as you will need to verify the email before being able to use F360. An Autodesk account spans across all of its products. If you have a TinkerCAD account, then you can use the same information for Fusion 360.
Downloading and Installing Fusion 360
Once you complete the sign up process and verify your email, you need to head over to Fusion 360 hobbyist and makers page and click on the download link near the middle of the page on the right side of the page. It should download the installer file automatically upon clicking on the button. Installing should be pretty straight forward. Once you have F360 installed, go ahead and open it up.
Activating Fusion 360
When you first open F360, it might hang on a white screen for a bit. This is generally okay since I think that F360 is updating in this time. If it lasts for more than a minute though, I close and reopen and it usually gives me the normal splash screen. On your first opening, you will be asked to log in to your Autodesk account. Once you put in your email and password, you’ll be asked to opt in to 2 Factor Authentication (2FA). You can skip this with the link on the bottom if you would like. It will be a SMS based 2FA, but you can switch it to an app based later. After that, you should be taken to the project screen.
If you would like to set up an app based 2FA, you can visit your security settings and set it up in there.
In the past, you had to go to the website and fill out a form for the startup/hobbyist license but in my recent testing, it automatically activates when you sign in to F360 for the first time. You should see “Autodesk Fusion 360 (Startup License)” in the title of the program. You can also verify this my going to the question mark in the upper right corner and then click on “About”. Under “Active Plan:”, you should see “Fusion 360 Startup” and when your current subscription ends in the line under that.
Getting in to CAD is a very daunting task. But there are loads of good YouTube videos to get you started.
Lars Christensen is an Autodesk employee that makes absolutely fantastic tutorial videos. He takes the time to explain what he is doing and makes things super easy to follow along with. I believe he live streams once a week also making various objects and showing you tips, tricks, and various ways of how to do the same thing. The following video is a 3 part tutorial of what I used to start learning my way around F360:
A couple of other videos bt Lars I suggest watching is shortcut keys, how to pan, zoom, rotate, and navigate your model, drawing basics, and settings you should know about. I highly suggest watching some of his other videos as well.
Another good tutorial that gets in to perimeters a bit is on the official Fusion 360 YouTube. It creates a case with a lockable lid but it still a very good starter project.
If you have anything you would like to add, please comment below!