Hello Carl - welcome to the forum and the magic of CNC
(1) I’ve been to the Fusion 360 website and I see mention of the limit of 10 active designs for the hobby/free version. What exactly does this mean? Does it mean that you can only have 10 files open at once? Or that it only allows you to create 10 designs period? Not sure of the distinction between “active design” and “design”.
The whole “10 active design” limit was just announced a few days ago and has not been implemented in the SW yet. But, as near as I can tell, you will have to designate files as “archived” or “active”. If you have a single project file and all your components are in that file, then you are golden. If you reference components via links or embedded external components, you will likely quickly hit the 10 active file limit – depending on how Autodesk implements the feature. It is not clear at this point if linked components must be “active” or not.
In this case, a “design” is a single project file which can have many components (not sure there is a limit).
(2) How do Fusion 360 and Vectric Aspire compare in terms of capabilities? Are there things one of them can do that the other cannot? I’m thinking about CAM capabilities specifically. I may stick with SolidWorks for CAD as I already know how to do that.
Caveat – My experience
- Vectric Aspire and VCarve specializes in v-carving. Fusion 360 is a complete CAD, CAM, and Electronics design suite of applications.
- The CAM component of Fusion can do v-carving, but it is limited to 2.5d, not 3d like Vectric SW.
- If you want to do complex inlays with crisp corners, Vectric is the way to go.
- If you want detailed control over routing profiles and material removal, Fusion is the way to go. I’ve not seen anything like adaptive pocketing in Vectric, but doing the 3d v-carves is nearly impossible in Fusion (but not completely impossible).
(3) Which is easier to learn?
- I’ve found both intuitive and mostly easy to use.
- I’ve found Fusion CAD easier to use than Vectric (especially the design in place, parametric modeling, and on the fly 3d rendering)
- Fusion CAM is far more complicated than Vectric and more difficult to learn.
Related - I’ve found SketchUp more difficult to learn than Fusion or Vectric. But, SketchUp is much better at creating BOMs and build drawings for wood workers; however, SketchUp but can’t do CAM so that’s a barrier.
Finally, I’ll offer CamBam as a simple CAM program that is very similar to Vectric (1/5th of the cost) and is capable of a wide range of CAM operations short of 3d v-carving.
Whew. I hope that helps.