- Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: Introduction
- Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: Sign Up
- Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: User Interface & Ease of Use
- Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: Dashboard
- Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: 3D CAD Tool
- Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: Mobile Application
- Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: Third-party integrations
- Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: Pricing
- Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: Customer Support
- Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: Documentation
- Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: Pros & Cons
- Similarities & Differences
- Verdict: Tinkercad vs Fusion 360 – Which is Better?
If you’re a designer, engineer, or 3D printing enthusiast looking to make your mark on the industry, then you’ve probably heard of two popular design platforms: Tinkercad and Fusion 360.
The question of which of these CAD software is better is one that has been debated for years, but there’s no arguing that each app has its own strengths and weaknesses.
In this post, I’ll take a look at the features, pros, and cons of both Tinkercad and Fusion 360 to help you decide which one is better for your next project.
Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: Introduction
What is Tinkercad?
Tinkercad is a free, simple-to-use web-based 3D modeling software that helps students and hobbyists create 3D models.
Users can create anything from simple shapes to complex objects, and then export them as an STL file that you can send to a 3D printer or make available for download on the web.
The platform was founded by Kai Backman (former Google engineer) and Mikko Mononen in 2011. However, in 2013, Autodesk – the same company that made AutoCAD, another popular CAD (computer-aided design) program – bought Tinkercad.
Today, the web app serves more than 37 million people and provides a great starting point for people who have never used 3D CAD before, as well as those who are more experienced with other CAD software but want to try something new.
What is Fusion 360?
Fusion 360 is a CAD software that allows you to design and prototype your products. Like Tinkercad, it gives you the power to work in the cloud so you can access your 3D models from any device, but you can also use it for industrial design and mechanical engineering.
For example, with Fusion 360 you can validate your designs with simulation tools that show where stress builds up in your product over time.
And if you want to take your idea from concept to reality? No problem:
Fusion 360 lets you easily make changes to your designs so they can be manufactured using additive manufacturing (3D printing) or traditional manufacturing processes like injection molding or machining.
This platform has also been owned by Autodesk since 2013, and it’s currently being used by over 1 million users.
Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: Sign Up
Signing up on Tinkercad is really easy. You can register either as an educator, student, or individual. Whatever you choose, the process is simple and straightforward.
To create an account:
- Head over to Tinkercad.com
- Click on the white “Sign Up” button at the top right corner of the screen.
- Pick your account type: educator, student, or personal account. In this example, we’ll use the latter.
- You can sign up with your email, Google, Apple, Microsoft, or Facebook account.
- If you choose to use your email, you’ll first need to enter the country where you live and your birth date. Then, click “Next”
- After that, write your email address and password and hit “Create Account”.
- That’s it! You’ll now be able to access your Tinkercad dashboard.
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Registering on Fusion 360 is exactly the same process as registering on Tinkercad. In fact, since both platforms are owned by Autodesk, your account will give you access to their whole suite of products – including Tinkercad and Fusion 360.
To create an account:
- Navigate to Autodesk.com/products/fusion-360/
- Click on “Download free trial”
- Choose the purpose of your download: “Business” or “Education”.
- Fill out the form with your information and once you’re done, hit “Next.”
- Follow the steps outlined in Tinkercad’s sign-up section to register for an Autodesk account.
- That’s it! You’ll now be able to start using Fusion 360.
Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: User Interface & Ease of Use
Tinkercad’s intuitive interface makes it easy for beginners and experts alike to use. You can start from scratch with a blank canvas or import existing designs from other programs into Tinkercad.
Plus, the platform includes over 100 pre-made components to help get you started on your project. The search function is also extremely helpful for finding parts that you need quickly, such as specific shapes and structures.
The program also has several features that make it easy to create and edit designs. For example, you can change the scale of your artwork by clicking on the “Zoom” button in the toolbar at the top of the screen.
This will give you more precise control over how large or small each part of your design will be when it prints out.
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Like Tinkercad, Fusion 360 has a very clean user interface. It has a simple drag-and-drop function for importing 3D files and a simple file browser for managing your projects.
You can also use the cloud storage option to upload your work offline so that you can access it from anywhere without an internet connection. Besides, I was able to navigate all of the menus and options with no problem right off the bat.
The toolbars are also clear. You can use them to access commonly used commands, so I didn’t have any trouble figuring out which buttons did what.
Additionally, Fusion 360 has a helpful tutorial section that will walk you through how to use the software. The tutorials are broken down into specific topics like creating models from scratch or creating interactive designs with the help of brushes.
Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: Dashboard
The Tinkercad dashboard is the main interface. You can use it to create, edit, and view 3D models, circuit designs, and code block projects.
The left sidebar shows all of your currently open projects. Click on any one of these projects to see all of the information contained within that project.
If you have an Education account, you can also share items from your current project with others via a “Class” tab – just click on one of the buttons alongside any item within a project and select “Add to Class Activity”.
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Unlike Tinkercad, Fusion 360 doesn’t have a dashboard. Since it’s a desktop app, you’ll directly access the CAD application itself.
Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: 3D CAD Tool
Tinkercad’s 3D CAD tool gives you access to a whole host of features, and it allows you to easily create any model with its drag-and-drop functionality.
You can adjust the size of the model by dragging it around or rotating it in any direction. You can also change its orientation by dragging the corner points of the model.
In addition, this program allows you to set up a template that will automatically create a file when you save your work. You can also use templates that already exist on GitHub.
Furthermore, Tinkercad’s 3D CAD tool has a built-in library of shapes that you can use with your designs. These shapes include boxes and cylinders as well as more complex shapes like tori, cubes, pyramids, prisms, and so on.
You can change their colors and textures as well as add text labels to them so that they’re easier to understand during design sessions with other people who might be using Tinkercad at the same time.
Another great thing about this tool is that you can import any 2D and 3D model, and export them in OBJ, DXF, or PDF formats. You can even export your designs as STL files so they can be used in other programs!
Unlike Tinkercad, Fusion 360’s CAD tool might seem intimidating at first, but once you get used to it, you’ll find it incredibly intuitive —and that’s because every part of the interface has been designed with usability in mind.
Click on the tools on the top menu to choose from a selection of options such as extrusion, union, subtraction, beveling, etc. It’s also easy to edit your creations by moving them around with a mouse or dragging them into another tab.
The app comes with a library of 3D models, which you can use to create your own custom parts or modify existing ones. You can also import your own 2D drawings into Fusion 360 and use them as a starting point for designing new parts.
Fusion 360 also includes a host of other features that make it a great choice for professionals, such as automatic dimensioning, plane creation, and constraint generation.
Like Tinkercad, this software also offers a set of ready-to-use templates that can get your design off the ground quickly. In addition, it has powerful drawing tools like vector drawing, 3D modeling, and animation, as well as advanced features like cloud storage and collaboration tools
On top of that, you can easily share your designs with your colleagues or clients and collaborate on them in real-time.
Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: Mobile Application
Tinkercad has a mobile application that is available on both iOS and Android devices, so you can design and share your creations wherever you are.
However, the app can be a little buggy at times. Besides, it isn’t fully optimized for touch screens, so it can be hard to use. For example, when I tried to move my design to change its angle by tapping on it, it would sometimes just stop responding altogether.
The app also makes it difficult to see what your creation looks like on different devices —which is important if you’re trying to get feedback from people who aren’t using the app themselves.
Like Tinkercad, Fusion 360 has also a mobile app that’s compatible with Android and iOS devices. Unfortunately, the app lacks a lot of functionality.
The app is very basic in its design and user interface. The main screen shows a grid of squares that are used to design 3D models, but there are no tools or features to help you build your model.
Besides, you can’t share your designs with others. It also lacks the ability to export your projects as .STL files or .DXF files.
You can only save them as a PDF file or export them as an image file that opens in another program such as Photoshop.
Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: Third-party integrations
Tinkercad doesn’t have a dedicated page listing all its third-party integrations. However, there are a few well-known tools that can help you get the most out of your Tinkercad experience.
For example, if you’re a teacher or student and want to visualize your designs in a virtual environment, Tinkercad’s integration with zSpace will help you do just that. Also, there’s a DocHub plugin that allows you to turn your exported PDFs into editable and signable files.
Finally, the 3DPrinterOS and My MakerBots integrations let you send your model directly to any 3D printer that’s connected to the cloud.
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Fusion360 has a variety of built-in integrations that let you connect with other services. Some of these are:
- Quick Open
- Multi spur gear
- QR code creator
- Robot At Work
- GF Gear Generator
- Shaper Utilities
- FM Gears
- ProtoTech JSON’s Exporter
- Font Channelier
Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: Pricing
Tinkercad is completely free. You don’t have to pay a subscription to use it, and there are no costs associated with exporting and downloading your models.
Unlike Tinkercad, Fusion 360 requires you to pay a membership in order to enjoy its full set of features. It has a free trial, but this only lasts for 30 days.
Fusion 360 has three main subscription plans. These are:
- $70 per month
- $545 per year
- $1,635 every 3 years.
These prices may vary, so check out Fusion 360’s official website to get the latest updates.
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Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: Customer Support
Tinkercad doesn’t have many customer support options. In fact, the only way you can contact their customer service team is by sending a request via email.
They’ll then reply with an answer or request more information from you usually within 48 hours.
Like Tinkercad, if you want to contact Fusion 360 customer support you’ll need to send an email explaining your issue in as much detail as possible.
However, you also have the option of calling a customer representative directly. If you can’t do that, you can fill out a form with your information so they can call you right away.
Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: Documentation
Tinkercad’s documentation is thorough enough so that even beginners can get started using it right away without having too much trouble understanding how everything works. Its Help Center covers many topics. For example:
- Tinkercad’s features, including 3D printing and design tools, as well as its interface.
- The different types of projects that are available in the Tinkercad community.
- How to use Tinkercad for beginners and advanced users alike.
- How to create a new project.
- How to create and edit shapes.
- How to export your design for use in other tools and software.
The platform also includes other helpful resources, such as guided starter projects, a tips and tricks section to make the most out of Tinkercad, and a blog.
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Like Tinkercad, Fusion 360 has comprehensive and extensive product documentation. Besides, it is concise and well-organized.
It provides clear instructions on how to use the software and includes information about each feature as well as tips for making your model more efficient. You can also find tutorials on how to use some of the more advanced features of the software if they seem unfamiliar or confusing at first glance.
Tinkercad vs Fusion 360: Pros & Cons
- It’s completely free.
- It’s easy to use, even if you’ve never created a 3D model before.
- It has an intuitive interface.
- It has a ton of learning resources and a comprehensive Help Center.
- It has a huge community of users that share their designs, so it’s easy to learn from others and find inspiration.
- It allows you to import both 2D and 3D models.
- It has a wide range of exporting options.
- Its CAD tool includes templates and starter projects.
- Its customer support options are limited.
- Its mobile application is glitchy, and it isn’t optimized for touch screens.
- It offers a free trial.
- It provides a wide range of 3D design tools for both individuals and enterprises.
- Its CAD tool is easy to navigate and intuitive.
- It has several importing and exporting options tailored to your specific project.
- It has plenty of integrations with popular third-party apps.
- Its product documentation is extensive and well-organized.
- It has responsive customer support.
- Its free trial is limited and only lasts for 30 days.
- Its pricing plans are slightly expensive in comparison with other 3D CAD software.
- Its mobile application lacks most of the functionality you get on its desktop version.
Similarities & Differences
|Free||✔||✔ Only 30-day free trial|
|3D CAD Tool||✔||✔|
|Easy to use||✔||✔|
|Documentation & Tutorials||✔||✔|
|Mobile Application||✔ Slightly buggy||✔ Lacks functionality|
|Customer Support||✔ Limited||✔|
Verdict: Tinkercad vs Fusion 360 – Which is Better?
If you’re looking for something simple to get started with or if you want a tool that allows you to easily incorporate 3D models into your designs, then Tinkercad is your best bet.
You can import images or designs from other sources, and it has a ton of pre-built templates and components that allow you to get started quickly.
However, if you’re a company or someone looking for a more advanced 3D CAD tool with integrated CAM, Fusion 360 is a better option.
Fusion 360 includes a host of other useful features like the ability to do complex simulations and visualize your engineering designs in real-time.
It’s also simple enough for beginners, but powerful enough for professionals with big projects on the horizon!
Scott L. Macarthur is a marketing consultant and an online author. He is mostly engaged in providing his expertise to startups and SMBs. He is also an author on TheNextWeb.