Image by Jaredtkatz

Rapid Prototyping with Fusion 360 and the Othermill

At Mindtribe, we’re always exploring new economical ways to rapidly prototype our designs. When our electrical engineering team purchased an Othermill for routing out simple 2-layer PCBs, our mechanical engineers immediately started thinking about how to use the new tool for fabrication of 3D parts. Unfortunately, there is no straightforward and well-documented process for exporting g-code for the Othermill directly from Solidworks.

After some searching, we found a nice tutorial on Instructables that details out the process of exporting g-code from Fusion 360, Autodesk’s cloud-based 3D CAD/CAM tool. A quick glance at the features of Fusion 360 revealed that it supports T-splines surfacing, modeling, cloud-based document control, simulation, and CAM all with the same interface. All this for the low price of $free.99 for students, enthusiasts, hobbyists, and startups.

To see if this product was too good to be true, I tried making a creamsicle ornament and took some pictures along the way. Overall, I think Fusion 360 is a great product for all hardware designers because of its feature set and low cost. I was able to understand the user interface very quickly, and went from idea to prototype without needing to learn too much about the Othermill or CAM.

Unfortunately, I did experience laggy graphics (even on my Dell M3800) and several unexplained software crashes. This shouldn’t deter anyone else from using the software because I haven’t tried loading it on any other computer. The benefits of the software still outweigh its shortcomings especially when cost is taken into consideration.