EXCLUSIVE: Autodesk extends Fusion Fast Track program to UK & Nordics

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Last month, Autodesk announced a US focussed program for SolidWorks users, to tempt them to give its Fusion 360 system a try. With a combination of three months’ free access to the system combined with consultancy services (depending on the size of the organisation) to help get up and running, answer questions and to help move things forward.

To quote the open letter () from Fusion 360 Business Development Director, Stephen Hooper:

Stephen Hooper, Fusion 360 Business Development Director

Time to Rethink the Status Quo


An open letter to SolidWorks users

The last few weeks have seen some interesting program decisions coming from Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks.

We recognize that many of you may feel frustrated, confused and/or trapped without any credible alternatives for technology tools and purchasing options.

It’s easy to see why. The 3D CAD landscape is changing and SolidWorks hasn’t seemed to notice. Fusion 360 sees things a little differently and we’d like to take this opportunity to formally invite you to try something new.

Fusion 360 is the world’s first and only cloud-based 3D CAD/CAM tool for product development that combines industrial and mechanical design, collaboration, and machining in a single package. The tools in Fusion 360 enable fast and easy exploration of design ideas – by individuals or among teams – with an integrated concept-to-production toolset. Note that CAM and full cloud-based collaboration are included. Not something you’ll find in SolidWorks, without adding a 3rd party CAM solution at many multiples the price of Fusion 360.

We want to ensure your success, risk-free. For all SolidWorks users in North America, we are:

  • Extending our typical 30-day free trial period to 3 months*
  • Providing 2 hours of free “Fast Track” consulting to get you up to speed (for individuals).
  • Offering 60 days of free “Fast Track” consulting for teams (two or more people).
    We’ll help you through a smooth migration of data and get you up and running on any project.

Interested? Get started here: http://assets.autodesk.com/Fusion-360-Fast-Track.html.

Fusion 360 is natively written for both Mac and PC, allowing you to use your preferred OS or both at no additional cost. It’s available on a subscription basis, starting at just $25/month, and is always free for students and startups* making less than $100,000 per year. No applications, no hidden fees, no waiting period. Just click the link and you’re done.

So what’s a better deal? Depending on the size of your company, Fusion 360 is either free or costs just $300/year after 90 days risk-free, and you get all the design functionality of 3D CAD, plus CAM, plus collaboration. And we are continually adding updates, upgrades and new innovations to Fusion 360, at what you might call a break-neck pace. To upgrade and become current on SolidWorks, it will cost you… thousands and you won’t see anything like Fusion 360’s pace of innovation.

Throw in the free consulting and there’s zero risk for you, and we’ll do everything possible to guarantee success.

Lots of companies have switched from SolidWorks already, including Ecotech Enterprises and Swissomation. They seem pleased with their decision:

  • “With Fusion 360, I feel that I can do more than I ever could with SolidWorks. The platform is incredibly feature-rich, and I have just dipped my toes into it,” said Jan Stasiek of Ecotech Enterprises.
  • “Switching from SolidWorks to Fusion 360 has allowed me to design anywhere and on any platform, most importantly Mac. Another thing that is important to me is that people do what they say they are going to do. The Fusion 360 team has done just that by being accessible and supportive. Also, they have followed through on new functionality that we have requested. Fusion 360 is a very important part of my business,” said Christian Welch, CEO of Swissomation.

Ecotech and Swissomation are two members of the hundreds-of-thousands-strong Fusion 360 community, which shares designs, tips and tricks, even ideas for future development of the software itself. We not only incorporate those ideas into Fusion 360, we publish our product roadmap so the community knows what’s coming in advance.

Enticed? We hope so. To join the community and get started with Fusion 360, go to the Fast Track page now.

And please don’t hesitate to let me and my team know if you have any questions we can answer first.

Kind regards,

Stephen Hooper

Fusion 360 Business Development Director


As with a few things that Autodesk does, it starts in the US and we gave it a hard time about ignoring its customers in other regions – specifically, this side of the pond. Well, it seems that the team is listening and this week, Autodesk is rolling out the same program to customers not only in the UK, but also the Nordics (that’s Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland). To learn a little more, we caught up with Stephen to ask a few questions:

Al Dean: How has the program expanded and to where?

Stephen Hooper: The details of our Fast Track program remain the same but due to the unprecedented levels of demand we’ve experienced, we’ve decided to expand coverage to include the UK and Nordic countries (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland). Since launching the program in the US, we’ve received many requests from organizations and users wishing to see the program extended to their region and we’re evaluating all of them. We want to ensure a high level of coverage and attention in each market before rolling out.

AD: Why just focus on SolidWorks? I realise that this community is perhaps the one that’s the biggest and in some respects, is in a state of turbulence (though I don’t think this is a widespread as you might think).

SH: For now, the program is primarily aimed at assisting SolidWorks users. Dassault has made some changes recently that have caused concern and angst amongst the SolidWorks user community, many of whom feel trapped and are actively looking for alternatives. In a larger sense, this is also about a generational shift to cloud and mobile platforms. We believe Fusion 360, as a truly integrated CAD /CAM/CAE/Collaboration solution, is the only technology capable of satisfying the needs of the overwhelming majority of SWX users. So what we’re saying is: come have a look at Fusion 360, we’ll help you with the process, and we think you won’t ever look back.

AD: If someone that’s using another tool (Pro/E, Edge, Catia, etc) wants to jump on this program, can they?

SH: We’d be delighted to discuss individual situations. As I mentioned previously, we hear a lot of dissatisfaction in the SolidWorks community in particular, and a desire to see a faster pace of development for their subscription payments. We also see a shift in need to accommodate the entire product development process, inclusive of production, not just 3D modeling. For that reason, we’ve placed our focus here first but would be interested to hear feedback from other communities if they feel they would like to take part in this program. If any of your readers would like to discuss this further, they should feel free to reach out to me directly and I’d be more than happy to discuss it.

AD: With regards to the “2 hours of free ‘Fast Track’ consulting to get you up to speed (for individuals)”, could you clarify the “for individuals” portion? Are we talking single users, or is that ‘per user licence’? i.e; if you’ve got a small company with one designer, do they qualify?

SH: By individuals, we mean organizations OR people who are trying a single license. So yes, a designer in a small company with a single license would qualify for 2 hours of consultation. We offer this to help them get up to speed as quickly and effortlessly as possible (we’re confident Fusion 360 will facilitate that) and to discuss how to handle existing data and workflows.

For organizations with more than a single license, we offer 60 days, understanding that the migration may require a little more time. We also do this because we are firm believers in spending time with our users and with the community in general. You’ll get to know our team members personally and you’ll learn more about what we’re doing and where our technology is headed in the process. Unlike our competition, we’re extremely open about our roadmap and we want people who join us to feel like valued members of our community, helping us build the next generation of product development together.

AD: With regards to the 60 hours (for two or more) are there limitations or restrictions on what that 60 hours can cover? If you’ve got, for example, a three person team that focus on CAM, can that time be used to help set-up and get them up and running on the production side of things?

SH: Yes, it could. There are no limitations on the topics that can be covered during the 60 day session (we want to be clear that its 60 days where we’re offering consultation, not 60 hours). First and foremost we believe in helping our new community members and we want to do everything we can to make them feel comfortable with Fusion 360. We also recognize that every business is different.

Some will require help with industrial design, others will want to look at the specifics of 3 axis machining and many others will want to leverage the simulation and collaboration facilities Fusion 360 offers. In this respect, we realize that Fusion 360 offers an incredibly broad range of capabilities to aid product development and we have the expertise necessary to help in whatever area of product innovation users are looking to develop,

AD: Who delivers the consulting? Autodesk personnel or through resellers? Does that differ by geography?

SH: Autodesk staff provide the consultation, and our team has deep experience with both SWX and Fusion 360 workflows. Part of our aim is that new users get to know us as people, as well as the technology we develop. You’ll find we are open to discussion on future technology, knowledgeable about its application within your business and, above all, fun and friendly to work with.

AD: You’ve rolled this out in the US and UK (or is it Europe as a whole). What are the plans for other geographies?

SH: For now the scope is limited to the US, UK and Nordics. We’ve had a very good response in the US so far, and we’re expanding now to parts of Northern Europe. We’re going to keep monitoring the reaction to the program and consider further expansions in due course. Of course, we’d be very interested to hear from any of your readers who’d like to see expansion in their particular region. Please feel free to reach out.

So there you have it, if you’re a SolidWorks users, you’ve got a nice little package to get you started. For me, the 3D CAD angle is interesting, particularly as SolidWorks users spread across a very wide spectrum of engineering and design. But focussing on swapping CAD out is perhaps a mistake.

If you look at Fusion 360’s capability, the key differentiator (aside from its cloud-based nature) is the inclusion of some pretty serious CAM tools. There’s a whole tonne of SolidWorks seats in use that are used alongside CAM systems (which are often built directly into it) and the cost is considerably higher than just the 3D CAD portion. Autodesk stands a chance to get into these smaller companies and do something interesting and the potential savings are huge just on the software licence costs alone. The same could be said to be true of simulation, particularly with an update due that will see these tools also added to the Fusion service.

What bothers me a little is how Autodesk is going specifically after the SolidWorks community. I understand entirely that they represent the largest community of users and of course, that makes them the biggest target – and frankly, Dassault isn’t helping itself in this regard.

The idea that there’s huge dissatisfaction in the SolidWorks community is, to be honest, somewhat misleading. Yes, there are changes afoot and Dassault’s recent decision regarding out of maintenance licences isn’t going to help matters. But to be aware of these issues, you have to be one of the more connected users, plugged into what’s going on, active on the forums, social media etc. This doesn’t represent the reality. The majority of users turn up to work, hit the SolidWorks icon, do their job and go home again.

They don’t have any purchasing power, they don’t have influence over their employers software selection decisions. And the majority are active with their licence maintenance so the recent shenanigans don’t really apply either. Is this a way for Autodesk to point out some of these issues? I suspect so. But again, the same applies. You need to be a) aware of issues regarding maintenance charges and the whole SolidWorks V6 platform transition and b) be in a position to do something about it at the company you work for.

That said, for those that are looking elsewhere, even in a tentative manner; those are looking to consolidate their design and/or manufacturing systems (and shortly, simulation), then this is a pretty sweet deal – it’s a bold move by Autodesk, that’s for sure. It’s also interesting that the consultancy is provided by Autodesk themselves, rather than its reseller channel.

More details on the Fusion 360 Fast Track are available here
. If you want to learn a little more about Fusion, then have a look at our last couple of updates – both here and here.

There’s also the standard video, replete with slow panninf camera moves and depth of field adjustments ala mode.

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