Today's status on Fusion 360 for hobbyist

I’m sure this question has been asked before but; I can’t seem to find a clear answer in the search. It was once free but there have been changes and Autodesk has nerf’d down their product.

I would like to use it with my SPro XXL. I’m familiar and comfortable with Autocad / CAD / and CAM but I’m not willing to pay $$$$/year as a hobbyist woodworker.

All I can say from my perspective and experience is it’s typical for how Autodesk Corp. treats people.

They got all the free beta-testing and content which they wanted, so they are now trying to figure out the maximum payment they can extract from users.

The inexpensive, perpetual-license alternative would be Alibre Atom3D:

(we bundle it w/ our Nomad 3)

The free as in freedom option would be FreeCAD and the other opensource applications.

What sort of work do you wish to do and in what way do you wish to approach it?

Will, Thank you for your reply. I actually own Alibre, I bought it a year ago and have used it a bit. I have looked at MeshCAM and think it’s a good option. My motivation for Fusion was to take advantage of adaptive toolpath functions. MeshCAM doesn’t provide that, does it?

Once again, thank you

No, at this time MeshCAM doesn’t do adaptive toolpaths — check in w/ to see what they can share on that.

An affordable program which does is EstlCAM.

Not sure if any of the opensource programs support that yet or no. I tried programming them in tplang a while back, but the math at the corners got complex and I dropped it since I didn’t really need it.

Thanks for the lead.

I don’t mind paying a reasonable amount for software, but NOT Autodesk’s ransom.

For what it’s worth, as a counterpoint /in the spirit of covering all options:

I gave exactly $0 to Autodesk so far, and I have been using their hobbyist license of Fusion360 for a long time. They will gradually make it ever more painful to use for free users, but one can choose to ditch Fusion for another CAD/CAM package whenever they cross “the line” (of usefulness of the free version, which is different for everyone). In the meantime, and even with the latest wave of restrictions (most of which are either not a real problem for hobbyists or easily circumvented), it’s there to use for free (for hobbyist use).
The only catch is to be mentally prepared to jump ship at any moment. The real dilemna I think, is where one should invest the tens of hours of learning that are required to use any modern CAD/CAM suite. I feel ok “losing” the benefit of the few weeks it took me to learn Fusion (to a very modest level that still allows me to do everything I need), but others may not feel the same.


On the other hand, you had businesses taking advantage of the “free” hobbyist version. When they changed the price structure a couple years back, I paid for the yearly subscription price of $310.00 a year. Cheaper, and more versatile than the $360.00 a year subscription price of Carbide Create Pro.

Yeah, it’s typical of Autodesk to punish everyone rather than going to the effort to ferret out and deal w/ the folks breaking the rules, which based on an analysis of file data they could have easily done.

Concerning adaptive toolpaths, how well does it work on relatively large volumes? I had a piece of X/Y/Z 25"/4"/3.4" that I was trying to compute with 1/4" endmill toolpath. On my mobile workstation I gave up after a few minutes of it trying to compute and just selected a non-adaptive toolpath. On my SPF wood I wasn’t really concerned about tool loading or wear in any case. Now my workstation is 6 years old so no longer a high-end machine, but at the time I had spec’ed pretty good and typically it is not a problem computing the CAD or CAM.

that pricing isn’t correct. ccpro is $360 for the perpetual one. the subscription is just over a hundred

And a 120 bucks a year for updates after that.

I got booted off fusion a few years ago when they told me I’d have to start paying hundreds a year. $405 Canadian at the time per year. I had a hobbyist license at the time, I think I had opened it maybe 3 times that year then got locked out. At that time I was making negative income

The first time I tried “Adaptive Clearing” was on my CNC converted Sieg X2 mill. 1/4" endmill, cutting a pocket in aluminum. I had it set for 1/4" maximum depth of cut, and cutting both ways. It worked amazingly well, and I didn’t break a bit.
From what I’ve read on their forums, Fusion 360 relies on a good video card, preferably a gaming card, not a workstation video card.

The other ‘make it difficult’ hurdle is that Autodesk are, let’s say, not exactly making it easy to find the hobbyist / educational subscription options.

Each time, just use your preferred search engine to find the links and instructions, current help here


I generally don’t like subscription based software but I am a happy commercial user of Fusion 360. I use it every day at my business and the cost is easy for me to justify. For a hobbyist, I don’t think its amazing but it isn’t bad. If you like how it works, use it. If you don’t, use something else. Autodesk isn’t a perfect company and just like any other, does not deserve any loyalty. Businesses are loyal to making money and nothing else. If you like what you get for what you pay, use it. If you don’t think you get your money’s worth, move on. At free, it is pretty easy to justify unless you find something else better for free. The skills and concepts you learn in any CAD/CAM software are pretty transferable.


Dang, that’s calm and sensible, you know this is the Internet where you’re supposed to be outraged about stuff right? :smiling_imp:


I paid for the three year subscription at a discount when they started the nerf, think it was around 800 dollars.
I use Fusion a lot and consider it a good purchase for me.
I really wish they would let you add on the expanded toolpaths for a reasonable price, instead of bundling them into an upgrade I will never pay for…


As an off topic here, does anyone use CarveCo? I’ve started using their free trail period (45 days) which is soon coming to an end. And I still really don’t know if it is a good program.
As a new guy, I’ve only used it a little for some light 2D stuff. I don’t want to invest time and money in if it doesn’t do CAD/CAM.
Eventually I would like to get around to 3D items.

Thank you @WillAdams for mentioning Alibre. I’m going to look into it

CarveCo is popular w/ folks who are willing to pay for monthly subscriptions — apparently, under its previous name ArtCAM, it was the program which the Vectric developers were working on before they went out and started the competing product. It does drawing to some degree, and CAM is its raison d’être.


I’m just waiting for the free version of Carbide Create to match Fusion 360’s capabilities in every way.

EDIT: I’ve tried Fusion 360 a couple times, and if this were a business for me, I’d probably pay for it. As a hobbyist, my biggest complaint is that NOTHING is intuitive, you have to go watch a video to figure out how to do anything, and if you’ve been away from it for more than month, you have to start all over again.

I have paid for VCarve Desktop, and it’s pretty good and they don’t hit you up for too much money too often. Also, unlike Fusion, which is all things to all people, VCarve is a dedicated CNC woodworking application.

I’m also getting better at Carbide Create. It’s design features at the free level are decidedly on the level of 1984-era MacPaint (sorry guys, I call 'em as I see 'em) but in the same that 4 base pairs of adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine can combine to create all life as we know it, there are ways of using the relatively simple set of tools in Carbide Create to get pretty sophisticated.

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