With many schools adopting and integrating 3D Printing, choosing the right 3D CAD/CAM software is a crucial part of an effective curriculum. Fusion 360 by Autodesk is a cloud based, cross-platform, complete design and development solution for your students. The best news is that teaching Fusion 360 is free for students and educators! This powerful design tool is the ideal program to create 3D models that can be sent right to your 3D Printer.
Historically, most 3D CAD/CAM programs had a very steep learning curve, often to the point of being discouraging. The user friendly interface and easier learning curve is well suited to teaching Fusion 360 in middle school. Autodesk provides excellent tutorials and learning tools on their website to help students and teachers become proficient quickly. Additionally, their YouTube Channel has more videos to help you master the interface.
Autodesk is clearly committed to the educational market. In addition to being free, Fusion 360 has an extensive community providing excellent collaboration opportunities. The interface allows students and teachers to share files and collaborate for easy project management and assessment.
At Saint Paul’s School in Clearwater, we have a trimester long 3D Printing and Modeling course that I developed for the Middle School. Students enjoyed the creative opportunity and quick learning curve that Fusion 360 provided. Students experienced immediate design successes with Fusion 360, and watched their designs become reality in the 3D Printer! Being a BYOD school, students are always having their earbuds get tangled up. The first class project was to design and print an earbud holder. This was a project students could relate to, and inspired them to learn Fusion 360. The skill level to create the project was learned quickly, with students completing a design in just two classes. Other projects included industrial designs, fidget toys, and a capstone project of their own design and purpose.
With 3D printing becoming mainstream, knowing a comprehensive 3D modeling program is as important as knowing a word processing program. I highly recommend teaching Fusion 360 at your Middle School.