The post, Inventor Fusion Vs. Inventor touched on the broad overall picture of differences between the two packages and focused on the fact that Inventor is designed as a tool to create assemblies. When you are comparing Inventor to Inventor Fusion, you’re really comparing two very different packages. Inventor Fusion is really only a shadow of what full blown Inventor contains. In this post, we’re going to look at the middle ground, Inventor LT. Inventor LT and Inventor Fusion are more akin to each other than the full version of Inventor.
Both packages are designed to let you easily create 3D models. The core commands for modeling are similar, but you’ll find that there are many more options inside of Inventor LT. For example, if you look at the options to create planes inside of Fusion, the number of choices is significantly smaller than Inventor LT.
Even though the number of commands in Inventor Fusion is lacking, you can usually find a workaround to create the plane that you want, it’s just that it will take a few more steps.
Another key difference in modeling between the two software packages is that Inventor and Inventor LT are a bit more dynamic than Inventor Fusion. For example, if you create a sketch for an extrusion in Inventor LT and modify that sketch, then the extrusion solid will update automatically. In Inventor Fusion, the sketch is disassociated from the extrusion.
These types of differences in modeling commands might not justify a separate software purchase for you. The real question between what software package you are going to need comes down to what file formats you are expecting to work in. Inventor Fusion can open many different file formats (including assembly .iam files). Inventor LT is able to open up a few more, but not .iam files. Following is a list of File Formats that the two software packages are able to open.
The fact that Inventor LT cannot open up .iam files is a big deal, as most full blown Inventor users are going to be creating assemblies. It’d almost be like using AutoCAD and being told that you’re not allowed to open up drawings that take advantage of external references. Some users might not have a problem with that, but for large projects, it would be a deal-breaker.
The real question comes down to what you plan to do with your part after it’s completed. Inventor Fusion only allows you to save your parts in .dwg format. Inventor LT lets you save your part in .ipt and will also let you export to .dwg. However, Inventor Fusion cannot be purchased on it’s own. You need to have AutoCAD installed to even run the software. Remember that the full version of AutoCAD will let you save to many other file formats, such as .iges, so the answer is not completely cut and dry.
In conclusion, if you are not in manufacturing and already own AutoCAD, then Inventor Fusion will most likely serve you well. A lot of it will come down to what tools you expect to have and what file formats you anticipate needing. If you find that Inventor Fusion has all the commands that you need to create your model fairly easily, then there’s really no reason to go searching for higher versions. However, if you are finding the tools lacking, then you might need to look into Inventor, Inventor LT, or a Design Suite that includes both AutoCAD and Inventor.