May 2, 2019

Fusion 360 – A Quick Tutorial on How to Export STL Files

With Autodesk Fusion 360, exporting STL files of your 3D designs and preparing them for slicing is a breeze, especially after reading this handy guide!

Fusion 360: Export as STL Designing for 3D Printing in Fusion 360

Fusion 360 is an incredible program that is CAD and CAM capable. Source: Autodesk

Fusion 360 is an incredibly capable computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) program that streamlines and combines the functionality of traditionally separate software programs into one application.

Fusion 360 provides an intuitive and user-friendly environment for complex 2D and 3D design, as well as tools for analyzing and preparing those designs for manufacture or rapid prototyping, including access to the Autodesk 360 cloud. Fusion 360 integrates easy-to-use tools to prepare designs for 3D printing, making it a great companion for anyone who uses 3D printing to manifest digital designs, whether it be for rapid prototyping or just for fun. One of these tools is the ability to create customizable 3D meshes of models and export them as STL files for slicing.

There are a few ways that you can export your 3D designs as STL mesh files in Fusion 360. These methods vary depending on whether you want to export individual components or bodies, an entire model, or multiple bodies at once.

Fusion 360: Export as STL Option #1: Exporting an Entire Design

Path to saving an entire design as an STL file. Source: Ryan Slomkowski / All3DP

If you want to export an entire design, including all of its bodies and components, you can do so by using the model Browser tree on the left side of the screen. Right-click the top branch in the tree, and select “Save As STL” in the resulting drop-down menu.

Once this option is selected, a small panel will appear on the right side of the screen in which you can configure the mesh settings. You can also toggle an option to send the file directly to a 3D print utility, like Cura, Meshmixer, or PreForm.

Fusion 360: Export as STL Option #2: Exporting Individual Components or Bodies

Path to saving a component or body as an STL. Source: Ryan Slomkowski / All3DP

To export an individual component or body, simply right-click the component or body in the design browser tree, and select “Save As STL” from the drop-down menu. This will open the same panel where you can configure your mesh settings. You can also change the component or body selection from this window.

Additionally, you can select “3D Print” from the “Make” tool in the toolbar at the top of the screen to open the same panel. From here you can select the component or body you would like to export.

Fusion 360: Export as STL Option #3: Exporting Multiple Bodies as a Single STL File

Path to saving multiple bodies as an STL file. Source: Ryan Slomkowski / All3DP

If you would like to export multiple bodies as a single STL mesh file, you can do so by creating a single component which contains all the bodies you wish to include.

To do this, first create a new component by clicking “New Component” under the “Create” tool in the toolbar. This opens a panel on the right side of the screen, which prompts you to select one or multiple bodies from the design. Make sure the option “From Bodies” is toggled, select only one body, and then select “Ok”.

After the new component is created, it will appear at the bottom of the browser tree to the right. To add each additional body to this component, simply find the bodies in the tree, and drag them onto the new component branch in the tree.

You can then right-click this component and select “Save As STL” from the drop-down menu to open the “Save As STL” panel. In the panel, you will now see a “Structure” option to create one file for the entire component, or create a separate file for each body. Make sure that “One File” is selected, and you should be good to go from there.

Fusion 360: Export as STL Bonus: Exporting an STL Mesh File from the Cloud

Path to saving a design as an STL from the A360 Cloud. Source: Ryan Slomkowski / All3DP

There is another way to create an STL mesh from your 3D design which doesn’t even require access to the Fusion 360 Application. Because Fusion 360 designs can be saved to the Autodesk 360 cloud, these designs can be accessed from almost any machine with an internet connection. This means STL files can be created and downloaded remotely, even without access to the machine on which the original design was created.

To do this, first visit the A360 Home Page and sign in to your A360 account. Once you sign in, you’ll be brought to your Fusion 360 hub. From your hub, you can navigate through all your Fusion 360 projects and designs, and find the design you wish to export an STL mesh file of.

Once you have found your 3D design, simply mouse-over it and click the “Export” arrow icon that becomes visible. A drop-down menu will then appear, from which you can select the file type you wish to export your design as. Select “STL”, and your STL mesh file will be created and a link will be emailed to your Autodesk 360 email address. This link will be active for a period of seven days, during which your STL file can be downloaded.

Feature image source: Autodesk 360, edited by Ryan Slomkowski / All3DP

License: The text of "Fusion 360 – A Quick Tutorial on How to Export STL Files" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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