Fusion 360 and Sketchup are famous online woodworking software that are easy to learn. Although both have the tools and training materials to help you create amazing drawings and sketches, you might get the software that is not compatible for your needs.
So, let me dive deep into the nuances of Fusion 360 versus Sketchup, and help you determine which might be the ideal woodworking software for your specific needs.
Features of Fusion 360 and Sketchup
From my years of experience working with both Fusion 360 and Sketchup, I’ve always appreciated their intuitive interfaces.
While Sketchup does have a somewhat dated appearance, likely because it’s been around longer than Fusion 360 and hasn’t seen as frequent updates, I’ve observed that its simplicity can be an asset. In fact, beginners often find themselves navigating Sketchup with ease, thanks to its straightforward layout.
On the other hand, Fusion’s interface is packed with a variety of modern navigations and functions that may confuse and complicate the user’s projects. This could make designing extensive projects complicated.
Once you start drawing more complex 3D models, Fusion 360 can get sluggish and will no longer be fluid.
Learning Curve: Fusion 360 and Sketchup
Fusion 360 is a curves-based software, unlike Sketchup that’s polygonal.
Sketchup makes use of lines and edges, connected to form vertices and surfaces. Since it has no real curves but line segments, creating sphere or curve designs won’t be easy. Even if you successfully create curve designs, it will lack realism.
Fusion 360 has a superb learning curve. You can create curvy designs with numerous tools at your disposal. Although it offers more design realism than Sketchup due to the learning curves, it takes lots of CPU power, complicating the user interface. This could take a toll on the hardware too, and could result in your CPU overheating. And when your CPU overheats, it damages the circuits or in extreme cases, causes a fire.
Winner: Fusion 360
I’ve personally explored the plethora of training materials available on their respective websites. These resources, ranging from videos to handy guides, provide invaluable insights for beginners. They’re expertly designed to familiarize users with the software’s navigation, layout, buttons, and commands. Trust me, they’ve been a great help in my journey with both tools.
The training materials are well-detailed, comprehensive, and packaged to help the user make the software’s best use.
Apart from the website training materials, there are hundreds of videos on YouTube about creating designs with the software.
Fusion 360 and Sketchup Modeling
One of the reasons people switch from Sketchup to Fusion 360 is that Sketchup isn’t a solid modeler. This means that creating extensive 3D modeling designs is limited.
Sketchup is suitable for creating basic modeling designs, and you can visualize or experiment on some woodworking models. This woodworking software is for starters or people who are inexperienced with modeling.
Fusion 360 offers a more advanced approach in creating 3D designs for 3D printing. Plus, it’s versatile. You can create 3D diagrams from 2D shapes with the tools and buttons on the layout.
Because Sketchup isn’t a solid modeler, you’ll likely encounter more exporting errors for 3D printing than Fusion 360.
Winner: Fusion 360
As mentioned earlier in this Sketchup vs. Fusion 360 comparison, Sketchup is not specifically optimized for 3D printing. However, it doesn’t mean you cannot utilize this woodworking software with a 3D printer.
Both programs can be utilized for 3D printing, but there’s a catch when it comes to file compatibility. 3D printers typically read STL file types. Now, while using Sketchup, I found that the STL exporter isn’t included in the free version, which can make things a bit challenging when trying to read the file.
Sketchup doesn’t have in-built abilities to generate G-code. G-code is a language that STL files are converted to for the 3D printer to read them. The good news is you can download the free extensions and extra plug-ins to help you export the files and generate G-code. Also, you can use SketchUp with some CutList optimizers for an added function, to get accurate layouts.
Fusion 360 can export STL files conveniently to 3D printers because it has the STL exporter and can translate G-code. Plus, it’s a solid modeler, a significant criterion if you want to print the STL file.
You can download some plug-ins for Sketchup to read the files. Even if it isn’t a solid modeler, STL files are difficult to set up and time-consuming.
If you are looking for software that allows you to drop shapes for your deck and add functional features, you can check my top pick of deck design software here. Read next!
Winner: Fusion 360
Sketchup and Fusion 360 have an excellent customer support team, ready to solve any software issues. You can reach Fusion 360 customer support and Sketchup via their social media handles, email, and telephone number.
For more options, you can also check the top furniture design software here.
Fusion 360 and Sketchup Pricing
In my time exploring both Fusion 360 and Sketchup, I’ve taken advantage of their free trial offers. Sketchup’s trial lasts for 30 days, and after that period, I’ve seen that one either has to opt for the paid version or make do with the more limited edition or the cloud-based version of Sketchup.
Fusion 360 is free to use if you fulfill certain conditions. For instance, if you’re a hobbyist, student, or just starting, you are free to use Fusion 360 for between one to three years. After your subscription’s expiration, you can choose to renew or start the free subscription all over again.
Can Fusion 360 import Sketchup files?
Yes, Fusion 360 can import Sketchup files. However, Sketchup files are not in STL format since the files aren’t solids. It will only import as mesh data, meaning you’ll have to use Fusion 360 to remodel the designs or convert them to STL files.
Overall Winner: Fusion 360
I have decided that Autodesk’s Fusion 360 is the better online software for woodworking, considering its outstanding features and qualities.
This Fusion 360 vs Sketchup comparison has proven that Fusion 360 has a better 3D modeling capability, allowing users to create impressive and extensive 3D designs. Also, it has a superb learning curve that allows the drawing of realistic objects.
Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.
Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.