When working with CAD software there are 2 traditional methods of creating your assemblies. Top-down and bottom-up. Even though Fusion 360 is a relative new kid on the block the principles are still the same.
What is bottom-up modelling?
Bottom-up modelling is the traditional way of designing where you create all your parts separately in individual files. These individual parts are then assembled into a larger assembly. The term for these parts that are assembled are called external parts in Fusion 360. The advantage of this method is that designers are able to easily reuse these parts in many different assemblies. Managing the parts are also quick and easy as it is not connected directly to other assembly components as well.
What is top-down modelling?
Top-down modelling is great when working on conceptual or prototype designs. Where many changes are being made in a short amount of time and the those changes will have an effect on multiple parts at the same time. This type of modelling also allows for proper fit and alignment between the parts that are being created as everything is in one environment and the parts have relations between them which change immediately as the parts are being updated. This allows for faster prototyping. Fusion 360 calls these components that are created internal parts.
When designing in Fusion 360, a combination of these 2 design methodologies can be used. Bottom-up modelling to start the designs when in the prototype phase and then if standard components which were previously designed need to be utilised you can insert them to complete your design.
Choosing which methodology to use will depend on project requirements and design objectives. Both have their strengths but with experience you will be able to learn which one to start with or maybe to use to use both.
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