Autodesk Announces Major Changes to the Terms of the Fusion 360 Personal Use License


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Change is inevitable and a part of life. But we are told that no one likes change. So logically, it looks like we’ve proven that no one loves life. CQFD.

That might be a reach, but judging by the Fusion 360 community’s reaction to the announced changes to the personal use license, they pretty much hate life right now. The clear message from Autodesk is that Fusion 360 – the widely used suite of CAD and CAM software – will always offer a free non-commercial license for design and manufacturing work, with the inclusion of some really big “but” it can be a breakup for some people. The changes include:

  • Project storage is limited to 10 active and editable documents
  • Exports are now limited to a small number of file types. Fortunately, this still includes STL files, but alas, DXF, DWG, and PDF exports are all gone.
  • Perhaps the most important for the makerverse, STAGEFile types, SAT and IGES can no longer be exported, the most common files for those who want to edit a design using other software.
  • 2D drawings can now only be one sheet and cannot be printed or plotted
  • Rendering can now only be done locally, so it is no longer possible to leverage cloud-based rendering
  • CAM support has been drastically reduced: no more multi-axis milling, probing, automatic tool changes or rapid feeds, but support for 2, 2.5 and 3 axes remains
  • All support for simulation, generative design, and custom extensions has been removed

Most of these changes come into effect on October 1, with the exception of the limit on active project files which goes into effect in January 2021. We would say that users of the free personal use license of Fusion 360 would be Better off exporting anything they could ever think they need design files for right away – if you find out you need to export them in the future you’ll need one of the other licenses to do so .

To be fair, it was pretty clear that the changes to the personal use license were coming some time ago with the consolidation of paid licenses almost a year ago and the cloud credit system monetizing the services of rendering / simulation / generative design occurring on Autodesk servers. Features Removed from Free License in This Week’s Announcement remain in place for paid subscriptions as well as educational and starter licensing options.

The problem with these personal use licenses is that they are easy to get used to and think of as de facto open source licenses; changing the terms then ends up leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. To their credit, Autodesk is currently offering a significant commercial license discount, which may mitigate some of the changes.

Update 25/09/2020: Autodesk announced that exporting STEP files will remain in the free version of Fusion 360

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