Overview

The Synthesis Fusion 360 Robot Exporter prepares your robot CAD model for simulation in Synthesis.

Installing the Fusion 360 Add-In

First, install the latest version of Autodesk Fusion 360 from the Autodesk Education website.

Next, download and run the latest installer of Synthesis. If you installed Synthesis before installing Fusion 360, you must reinstall Synthesis.

Restart Fusion 360. The Synthesis Fusion 360 Robot Exporter Add-In should now be installed.

To get started, open your robot CAD model. Next, navigate to the "Tools" tab in the "Design" environment. If the Synthesis Robot Exporter has been installed, you should see the new export tools added by the add-in.

Add-In Installation Troubleshooting

The Robot Exporter is installed automatically in Synthesis 4.2.3.0 if Fusion 360 is already installed on your device. If you are unable to find the robot exporting tools added by the Synthesis Robot Exporter, ensure that the add-in has been installed correctly with the following steps:

  1. Select the "Tools" tab in the "Design" environment.
  2. Select the "Add-Ins" button on the toolbar. A window titled "Scripts and Add-Ins" should pop up.
  3. Navigate to the "Add-Ins" tab at the top of the window. You should see an add-in titled "FusionRobotExporter" inside the "My Add-Ins" folder. (Note: If you do not see an add-in named "FusionRobotExporter," uninstall Synthesis and re-install the latest version of Synthesis).
  4. Click on the "FusionRobotExporter" add-in, ensure the "Run on Startup" checkbox is checked, and click the "Run" button.
  5. Restart Fusion 360.

In this section, we will configure the settings necessary to simulate your robot in Synthesis.

Pre-Check

Before you get started, verify that your CAD model is ready to export:

In Fusion 360, add appropriate joints to all moving components (wheels, mechanisms, elevators, flywheels, etc.) You can watch this video to learn how to add Rotational joints, and this video for Slider joints.

Restructure your robot so that all moving components are at the top of the assembly tree. Ensure that all joints are located in the "joints" folder at the top of the assembly tree.

Once you have added joints to your robot and restructured your project, you will need to restart Fusion 360 to refresh the joint data in the Fusion Synthesis Exporter.

Configuring your drivetrain layout allows Synthesis to model an accurate simulation of your robot's movement. Using the "Drive Train Layout" button, select the appropriate layout for your robot. Select "Basic" if your robot's wheels all point forwards with any combination of normal, omni, or mecanum wheels. Select "H-Drive" if you have one or more perpendicular wheels for moving sideways. The "Other" option allows you to configure other types of drive trains such as swerve.

Setting the weight of the drivetrain allows Synthesis to calculate the center of mass of your robot. Using the "Drivetrain Weight" button, enter the weight of the drivetrain base including the wheels, but not including the weight of jointed mechanisms. The weight of jointed mechanisms will be configured in the next step.

Next, we will configure the virtual motors and actuators which control the motion of your robot's joints using the Synthesis joint editor. Click on the button labeled "Edit Joints" to open the joint editor.

If you see a pop-up letting you know that no joints have been detected on the robot, make sure that you have completed both steps in the "Pre-Check" section of this tutorial, then exit out of the Robot Export environment by clicking the "Finish Robot Export" button, and when prompted to export your robot, click "No". Next, open the Robot Export environment again and click on the "Edit Joints" button again.

Next, we will use the Joint Editor to customize how the moving parts of the robot will function in the simulator. The Joint Editor should display a list of the configurable joints. An image of the joint you are editing appears next to each joint card, and the corresponding joint will also be highlighted in the main window when you hover a joint card. Unconfigured joints will be highlighted orange. If there are jointed mechanisms you don't intend to use in Synthesis, you may leave the corresponding joints unconfigured.

First, use the "Joint Type" dropdown to select whether the joint is a drivetrain wheel or a mechanism wheel.

If you are configuring a drivetrain wheel, you may configure the position of the wheel using the "Side" dropdown, and the type of wheel using the "Wheel Type" dropdown. For a mechanism joint, you need to customize the weight of the jointed component in pounds, as well as the type of the mechanism.

If you are an advanced user, you may also add sensors, configure gear ratios, and port number for each joint using the "Advanced..." button. These settings are optional.

These options allow you to configure the features of the exporter. You are not required to change these settings to export robots.

Show Robot Export Guide - Toggles the visibility of the Robot Export Guide.

Send Analytics - This toggles anonymous usage reporting which is used to improve the robot exporter.

Your robot is now configured and ready to export to Synthesis. Click the "Finish Robot Export" button to open the final export form. You may enter a name for the robot which will appear in the list of robots in the Synthesis application. The "Collision Mesh Quality" option allows you to increase the quality of the robot physics geometry in Synthesis at the cost of longer export times. The "Open Synthesis" checkbox should be enabled if you would like the exporter to launch the Synthesis application with your robot.

Finally, click the "OK" button to export the robot model. Depending on the complexity of your robot geometry, this will take 5-10 minutes.

Congratulations! Your robot should now be under the list of robots in the Synthesis application. For help with using your robot in Synthesis, you can read our "Getting started in Synthesis" guide.