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You may have seen our earlier article on turning your Fusion 360 design into a real part using Big Blue Saw. As soon as that article was published, all the Fusion 360 fans out there let us know that there is a much easier way to get the job done. 

Based on a recent informal survey, Fusion 360 is very popular among both our professional and hobbyist clients. Hobbyists love that it's  free for personal use, and pros dig the expansive power of its built in tools for PCB design, sculpting, and generative design. After you've created your design with Fusion 360, how do you turn those designs into real parts made from aluminum, polycarbonate plastic, or another material? That's what this tutorial is about.

(Note: as I was creating this tutorial, Autodesk changed the terms of use for Fusion 360 in the hobbyist edition. Fortunately the techniques described here should still work with the free hobbyist license.)

In this tutorial, we'll look at two different procedures for making a DXF file for use with Big Blue Saw's online ordering system. The simplest procedure applies if you already have a sketch in the part design with the complete outline of the part. If you don't have a sketch with the outline of the complete part, there's easy procedure you can follow to get a clean DXF file.

If You Already Have A Sketch

Below is a bracket design, the type of part we make every day here at Big Blue Saw. 

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Note that this part is an extrusion of a single sketch. You can click the sketch in the browser to see it highlighted in the main view of the part.

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Right clicking on the sketch should give you a menu with the option to save the sketch as a DXF. Very conventiently, the DXFs that Fusion 360 makes are scaled 1:1 with no extraneous lines, formatting, or other marks. This is exactly what we need for Big Blue Saw's online quoting system. Thanks Fusion developers!

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When you click Save as DXF,  the save dialog will appear. Choose a filename for the DXF export that you'll remember, and don't forget to note which folder you saved it in.

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Now you can upload the design to Big Blue Saw's website for an instant quote and online ordering!

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If You Don't Have a Sketch

Now let's take a look at a different part. This is also the type of thing we make every day here at Big Blue Saw.

But the way it's designed in Fusion 360 is a little different. In this case, the part is designed by combining several sketches as well as using the Hole and FIllet tools to make features on the finished part. We don't have a single sketch with just the outline of the piece. Another way you might find youself in this situation (not having a single sketch) is if you import a design from another CAD program.

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We can verify that the sketch doesn't outline the entire part. By clicking on one of the sketches in the browser, you can see that it's just the design for the tab on the left.

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We'll need to make a new sketch that can be exported as a DXF file.  Fusion 360 makes this easy. Right click on the top face of the part to show the context menu and click Create Sketch.

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This will make a new sketch and put Fusion into sketch mode. The features of the part are automatically projected into the new sketch.

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Click the Finish Sketch button on the toolbar to get out of sketch mode.

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Your new sketch will appear in the browser.

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Right click the new sketch and pick Save as DXF.  

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The save dialog will appear. Choose a filename for the DXF export that you'll remember, and don't forget to note which folder you saved it in.

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Now you're ready to upload the DXF file to Big Blue Saw's instant quoting system to order your part to be made from aluminum, stainless steel, polycarbonate plastic, or dozens of other materials!

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Need special materials or have other requests for your order? Our customer advocates are standing by to help you. Just email us at info@bigbluesaw.com, call 678-929-7294 (678-WAY-SAW4), or contact us through the website!

UPDATE: there's a much easier way to do this than is shown in this article. Check out Fusion 360 Custom Parts the Easier Way first!

Fusion 360 from Autodesk is one of the most popular 3D design and modeling packages available today. A recent poll of Big Blue Saw's customers showed us that it's the 2nd most used CAD package, just behind SolidWorks. It's free for personal use, which makes it very easy to get started.

But once you have created a design in Fusion 360, how can you turn that digital file into a real part from Big Blue Saw made of aluminum, stainless steel, or another material? Let's take a look.

For this tutorial, we're going to begin by assuming that you have some experience designing parts in Fusion 360. Below is a typical bracket created in Fusion 360, the type of part that we create every day here at Big Blue Saw.

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With your design open, click the File icon and pick New Drawing | From Design in the drop down menu.

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This will pop up the Create Drawing dialog. The default options shown below should work for your part. In particular you want the Template option to be "From Scratch". The Sheet Size should be large enough to fit the entire part. In this case, we know that the part is 12.475 x 6 inches, so size "B (17in x 11in)" should be plenty. Click OK to accept these options and close the dialog box.

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Next, the Drawing View dialog will appear. You'll need to pick an orientation such that you can see the entire outline of the part. In this case, the "Top" orientation allows us to view the part's outline. If you choose the wrong orientation, you'll see the part edge-on, which won't give enough information to the online quoting system to make the part.

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Choose the "Visible Edges" setting for the Style to create a drawing that only shows the top face of the part. Again, we don't need hidden lines or shading; the goal is to create a drawing with just the outline of the part to be cut.

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Next, set the scale to 1:1 by entering "1:1" in the Scale field. This saves us from having to rescale the design after uploading to Big Blue Saw's online quoting and ordering system.

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Now you should be able to click in the drawing area of the window to place the outline. As long as it's somewhere in the middle, you're OK.

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Click the OK button on the Drawing View dialog.

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Fusion 360 should show you a drawing like the one below.

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Again, our goal here is to eliminate everything but the outline of the outline of the part. Click the drawing details to select them and press the Delete key to get rid of them.

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There's still a drawing border left. Click anywhere on that and press Delete on your keyboard to get rid of that as well.

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You should now have a drawing, scaled 1:1, containing just the outline of the part to cut.

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Next, we should save the drawing for later access. If we update the part model, this drawing will update automatically. From the menu, choose File | Save or press Ctrl-S.

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The Save dialog will prompt you for a name for the file. Choose a name wisely so that you can remember it later. Click the Save button when done.

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We're in the home stretch here, and ready to save a DXF file for Big Blue Saw's online quoting system. From the toolbar, click on the Output button and choose Output Sheet as DXF from the drop down menu.

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A save dialog will appear which lets you save the DXF file anywhere on your computer. Be sure to choose a memorable name for the file and remember what directory you saved it to.

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The DXF drawing file can be uploaded to Big Blue Saw's online quoting system for an instant quote.

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Need special materials or have other requests for your order? Our customer advocates are standing by to help you. Just email us at info@bigbluesaw.com, call 678-929-7294 (678-WAY-SAW4), or contact us through the website!

If you're using Creo and need custom parts from Big Blue Saw, we've got you covered. Using the technique below, you will be able to export a clean DXF file from Creo that includes just the outline of the part to cut, suitable for use with Big Blue Saw's instant quoting system, as well as other laser, waterjet and CAM system. Our online quoting system needs a file that has just the outline of the design to be made, with no extra lines or annotations. Following this step-by-step procedure will create a drawing file which automatically updates every time the part updates, making exporting much easier the next time.

This tutorial was created with Creo 7.

Let's start with a typical design for a bracket in Creo as shown below. 

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Create a drawing by selecting New from the File menu.

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In the dialog that appears, choose Drawing for the file type.You'll also want to fill in an appropriate file name, something easy to recognize and understand. (Read The Best Way to Name Your Files for some tips. My favorite: "Pretend future you will be drunk or senile (or both) when looking at these filenames and make the name easy to understand.")

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The New Drawing dialog will appear. Choose Empty for the template to use.

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Creo will open a window in Drawing mode.

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Click the General View button in the toolbar. The Select Combined State dialog will appear.

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Choose No Combined State then click OK.

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Click in the drawing area to add the part to the drawing.

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Click the Drawing View Information button in the toolbar to show the Drawing View dialog.

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There are a couple different settings we need to change in this dialog to get a clean DXF output. Click the View Type category, then use the TOP view orientation (or FRONT/RIGHT, depending on how your part is set up).

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Under Scale, we need to set the scale to 1 for ease of use with Big Blue Saw's online quoting system.

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Under View Display, change the Display Style to Hidden. This will ensure that the DXF file will contain the outline of the part to be cut, with no other lines.

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Creo likes to put some extra stuff in the drawing that we don't need. In the Drawing Tree pane, use the drop down menu to see the Layer Tree.

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Select all the items in the Layer Tree, right-click, then pick Hide from the menu.

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On the Layout tab of the toolbar, click Sheet Setup to see the dialog.

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Make sure Show format is unchecked in order to get rid of some more superfluous items. In this case, it's getting rid of the frame around the drawing. Remember, we just want the outline of the part.

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The drawing should now  look something like the one shown below.

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Next, choose File | Save As | Export from the menu.

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The toolbar will change. Select DXF from the list of export types.

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Then click the Export button.

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You will be prompted for a file name. Make it a name you will remember and can distinguish from all of your files. Also be sure to keep track of where you saved the file!

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Now you should have a file ready for Big Blue Saw's online quoting system. Just upload the file and get a quote to have your part made from aluminum, polycarbonate, and dozens more materials.

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Once you've got the drawing set up the way you like it, you can easily export again if the design changes. Just click File | Save As | Export on the menu again and follow the steps from there.

Need more help turning your Creo design into a real part? Have some CAD tips that would help our customers? Contact us!

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