The first time I came across Fusion is when it was bundled with Autodesk Inventor 2013, If I recall correctly all those years ago! I took a quick look at it, but nothing more than that.
Last year I became aware of Fusion 360 again and started to take a better look. I applied to Autodesk for a 1 year start-up license which I got, so thank-you Autodesk. My initial idea was that Fusion was the new Inventor. But after a good few hours online, watching interviews with the product software developers and the like, I am happy to report that that is not the case.
I have been using Fusion for a few months now, and perhaps it is just coincidence that the type of jobs that have come my way have been better suited to Fusion than Inventor. The two packages are very similar, yet very different. My personal opinion is that Inventor was developed as a bottom-up workflow, and the top-down modeling capability was included later on. Whereas Fusion was developed from scratch as a top-down modeller.
It has happened to me so many times that as I am designing some sort of custom deck fitting etc. in Inventor, and in the middle of having ideas spinning around my head, it would dawn on me that a certain item from a previous design was exactly what I needed. So I would have to stop modeling, put my part into an assembly, and then place the item from a previous design into the assembly. Because this type of design means making many changes to the model, having to work in a part and assembly environment becomes a bit of a strain and would take me out of my ‘zone’. Now with Fusion I can insert a part directly into another part file, and just carry on working. It makes for a very smooth workflow.
So in relation to small (I would say up to about 20 solid parts) models that require a high degree of geometric manipulation, 3D problem solving, and quickly putting ideas into 3D, I can now say that I prefer Fusion 360 to Inventor. The one environment that has underwhelmed me is the drawings, I miss the flexibility of Inventor for changing the colour of dimensions, section lines, centerlines, automated view labels etc.. I have seen some new functionality come into the drawing environment of late, so I am hopeful that some more refinement will still come.
So would I use Fusion 360 to design a 14m cat that will end up containing thousands of parts? No. But if I need to do a custom, stand alone part that is going to go through many revisions, make me question my life choices and curse ever getting into design in the first place.. Fusion makes for a softer landing than Inventor.