Here’s how I taught myself Fusion360 by updating a 3d-printable iPhone tripod mount I found on Thingiverse, and put the update back on Thingiverse.
It has some very clever design elements: captive nut holding, little feet to help it stand upright or accept rubber bands, a profile on the “spires” to make them stronger, a single piece with no support material needed. The only problem is that it, like many SketchUp-based designs, wasn’t manifold and thus wouldn’t print without voids. At the time I tried fixing this with the Netfabb STL fixer. It cleaned it up a bit, but in the end just dealt with it by globbing on superglue. I could do better than just superglue.
Trying with SketchUp
A year or so later, I needed another phone tripod mount. I took it upon myself to redesign haasebert’s creation, fixing the issues I had with it. The two main issues I wanted to change were: make it manifold and make the “spires” grip the phone more. But I used the tool I was fastest with: SketchUp. It took many iterations, but the result was at least manifold. SketchUp sorta sucks for doing stuff for 3d printing because it’s so easy to create non-joined shells.
Enter Fusion 360
I’d been idly poking at Fusion 360 ever since I saw an early version at O’Reilly Solid 2014. It seemed promising and I’ve been dying to get into proper parametric CAD for a while. Fusion seems to have much of the power of Solidworks but is free for hobbyists (and will do STL export without crashy plugins like SketchUp)
The last several weeks, I’ve soaked up info from Youtube channels like NYC CNC, Lars Christensen (aka “cadcamstuff”), and of course the AutodeskFusion360 channel. (I’m always a little floored at how many good instructive videos are available now, for free) Fusion is a little buggy and I don’t like how it requires an internet connection, but for the most part it is phenomenal.
The final result
Yesterday I decided to finally apply all the knowledge I’d been absorbing and create my first real model by redesigning the iPhone Tripod Mount. I modified it a bit more so it grips the phone better and is more stable with larger/curvier phone like the iPhone 7 plus. The design is also modestly parameterized so you can change aspects of it and watch Fusion recalculate the whole object. (which is really cool when it goes right). It’s up on Thingiverse now. I love it. I’ve printed lots of them.