Preparing Autodesk Fusion 360 for CoDesign

Created: November 1, 2021 | Updated: May 31, 2022

Parent page: Installing & Configuring Altium CoDesigner

Altium CoDesigner is an interface for transferring printed circuit board designs between the ECAD and MCAD design domains. Once the CoDesigner add-in has been added to your MCAD software, CoDesigner can pass design changes back and forth. Design changes are passed through an Altium Workspace, which acts as a bridge between the ECAD and MCAD domains.

Check the version compatibility between your MCAD software and CoDesigner

To access the Altium CoDesigner panel in Autodesk® Fusion 360® you must install an Add-In (Plugin), as detailed below. You can download the MCAD CoDesigner plugin from the Altium website download page.

Installing and Configuring CoDesigner in Autodesk Fusion 360

CoDesigner does not support the Fusion 360 Personal license, as that version of Fusion 360 does not support the Parasolid model format which is used to transfer the components between MCAD and ECAD.

To interface to and from Autodesk® Fusion 360®, you need to install the Altium CoDesigner for Autodesk Fusion 360 Add-In. 

In Autodesk Fusion 360, select the Altium CoDesigner Add-In to access the CoDesigner panel Install and enable the Add-In to access CoDesigner in your MCAD software.

To install the Add-In:

  1. Close Autodesk Fusion 360 before installing.
  2. Download and install the Fusion 360 Add-In (AltiumCoDesignerFusion360_<VersionNo>.exe).
  3. Launch Autodesk Fusion 360 and confirm that the Add-In is installed and available. If it is, the Altium CoDesigner tab will be available on the ribbon, as shown below.
  4. The CoDesigner Add-In adds the Altium CoDesigner panel to Autodesk Fusion 360. All collaboration activities are performed through this panel.

Displaying the CoDesigner Panel

The CoDesigner panel can be displayed/hidden using the button or menu entry CoDesigner is accessed through a Fusion 360 panel.

In Autodesk Fusion 360, the Altium CoDesigner panel can be enabled by clicking the Altium CoDesigner menu entry or button, as shown above.

Connecting to your Workspace from Autodesk Fusion 360

Autodesk Fusion 360 collaborates with your Altium design software through a Workspace, which you must sign in to the first time you use it.

When you are not signed in, the Altium CoDesigner Tab will include sign-in fields, as shown below. There are two sign-in modes, one for signing into an Altium 365 Workspace, the other for signing in to a Workspace on an on-site Altium Server, such as Concord Pro or NEXUS Server.

Connecting to an Altium 365 Workspace

The first step is to sign in to your Workspace, using the sign in fields in the Altium CoDesigner panel Signing in to an Altium 365 Workspace.

  1. Select the Altium Account option in the Altium CoDesigner panel.
  2. Enter the email address you use to sign in to Altium Live as your Email, and your Altium Live Password.
  3. Enable the Remember Me option to retain the details (including the password) and automatically connect to your Workspace (through the Altium 365 platform) each time Autodesk Fusion 360 is started.
  4. Click the Sign In button to connect.

Multiple Workspaces are supported - open the CoDesigner menu and select the required Workspace.

Menu used to select the active workspace, to change to a custom server, or sign out

Connecting to a Concord Pro or NEXUS Server Workspace

The first step is to sign in to your Workspace, using the sign in fields in the Altium CoDesigner panel Signing in to an on-site Altium Server Workspace.

  1. Select the Custom Server option in the Altium CoDesigner panel.
  2. The first time you sign in you must specify the Server Address (URL) to connect to your on-site Altium Server. The address will be provided by your system administrator.
  3. Enter your User Name and Password, these will also be provided by the system administrator.
  4. Enable the Sign in Automatically option to retain the details (including the password) and automatically connect to your Workspace each time Autodesk Fusion 360 is started.

Once you have signed in, you are ready to start collaborating through Altium CoDesigner.

Once you have signed in to your managed content server you can open an existing board, or create a new board assembly CoDesigner has been installed and is ready to use.

Notes:

  • The initial support for Autodesk Fusion 360 only includes the feature-set available in a standard subscription plan, regardless of your current subscription level.
  • The representation of copper and silkscreen is different from what is implemented for other MCADs; in Fusion 360 they are represented by sketch-only based components within the bare board part. These components are hidden by default, you can make them visible and build 3D features such as an extrude or an extruded surface, if required.
  • With this version, users may experience performance issues with the initial pulling of a PCB into Fusion 360 with more than 500 components.

These limitations will be addressed in an upcoming release.

Configuring the Fusion 360 Collaboration Settings

Once you have signed in, CoDesigner settings can be configured in the Altium CoDesigner Settings dialog, opened via the Settings menu entry in the CoDesigner menu (show image).

Use the Altium CoDesigner Settings dialog to configure the CoDesigner options. Use the Altium CoDesigner Settings dialog to configure the CoDesigner options.

  • Ignore components smaller than <Value><Units> in height - the performance of Fusion 360 is affected by the number of components on the PCB. To help with this, smaller components can be excluded from the synchronization process. Configure this option to exclude components less than <Value><Units> when a Pull is performed. Note that the component height is defined in ECAD as a property of the component (footprint), it is not the height of the 3D model placed on the footprint.

Learn more about configuring CoDesigner to ignore smaller components

  • Participate in the product improvement program - enable this option to automatically share technical information with Altium about your use of CoDesigner.

Learn more about the product improvement program

Displaying the Copper and Silkscreen in Fusion 360

To simplify the process of displaying the copper and silkscreen layers in Fusion 360, the Fusion 360 Altium CoDesigner ribbon includes the Advanced Geometry () button. Clicking the button will display the four, top copper, top silkscreen, bottom copper, and bottom silkscreen sketch layers. Click a second time to hide those layers. These layers can also be selectively hidden/displayed in Fusion 360's object Browser.

Use the Advanced Geometry button on the Altium CoDesigner ribbon to quickly show or hide the top/bottom copper/silkscreen layers.Use the Advanced Geometry button on the Altium CoDesigner ribbon to quickly show or hide the top/bottom copper/silkscreen layers.

Working between Fusion 360 & Altium CircuitMaker

Developed for the maker community, Altium CircuitMaker makes schematic capture and PCB layout available to everyone. CircuitMaker can also connect to Autodesk Fusion 360 through Altium CoDesigner.

There are differences in how you work between Altium CircuitMaker and Fusion 360 compared to other other supported ECAD tools and Fusion 360.

These include:

  • Altium CircuitMaker and Fusion 360 pass design changes back and forth through an Altium 365 Personal Space. An Altium 365 Personal Space is free, and is ideal for those who want to experience the cloud-based collaborative capabilities of Altium 365 without the need for a full Altium 365 Workspace in which to store their data.
  • Design changes are passed between Altium CircuitMaker and Fusion 360 using Save and Open type actions, rather than Push and Pull actions. For example, click the Open button in Fusion 360 on the Altium CoDesigner ribbon to load a design from ECAD (show image). You'll also automatically be notified when the design is saved in ECAD, a single click will bring those changes into Fusion 360, as shown below.

Learn more about Collaborating with an MCAD Designer through the Fusion 360 CoDesigner Panel in Altium CircuitMaker.

Transferring design changes between Fusion 360 and Altium CircuitMaker is easier now.Transferring design changes between Fusion 360 and Altium CircuitMaker is easier now.

Where to Next?

Now that CoDesigner is installed in your MCAD software and connected to your Workspace, the next step is to configure the relevant Workspace settings.

Learn more about Configuring your Workspace Settings

 

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