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On 16 September 2020, Autodesk announced changes in the way that Fusion 360 can be used for non-commercial use with their Personal license. As a hobbyist, most of these changes will not affect me very much, since I do not use Fusion 360's advanced features. The most irksome will be only being allowed to have up to ten "documents" active at any one time, the rest having to be archived.

However, Autodesk are also restricting the number of file formats that you can export to. For example, the STEP file format will no longer be available with the Personal license. Will this mean that I will not be able to move my models to another CAD package, such as FreeCAD, once the changes come into effect (without first buying a commercial license)?

Autodesk: Changes to Fusion 360 for personal use

Edit: Good news. Autodesk have announced, on 25 September 2020, that the facility to export models to STEP files will be retained for the free-to-use, personal license.

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  • $\begingroup$ As I understand it, you're correct, but I'll wait for people who know the situation better and who can provide more detail to post a real answer. $\endgroup$ Sep 17 '20 at 1:38
  • $\begingroup$ I also noticed the loss of STEP format export and that's the only change I really regret, since it was a very good way to get platform independent (and editable) models. OBJ and similar are trinagle-based, unsuited to further modification. $\endgroup$
    – FarO
    Sep 17 '20 at 12:53
  • $\begingroup$ If I cannot export editable models, I may consider switching to other packages, but FreeCAD is way behind in UI so it would be a blood bath $\endgroup$
    – FarO
    Sep 17 '20 at 12:55
  • $\begingroup$ @FarO you might consider swapping to either educator or startup licenses $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Sep 22 '20 at 8:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Trish I have to check, but I think I don't fulfil the requirements. Even startups need to prove they are such. $\endgroup$
    – FarO
    Sep 22 '20 at 8:57
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Most of my answer is based off of what Autodesk has said and this video from Maker's Muse, which explains this topic in much more detail.

In summary, Autodesk is planning on restricting your ability to export any parametric file formats like .STEP or .IGES, leaving no useful CAD-specific files available for users with personal licenses.

I would recommend exporting everything you want to keep as .STEP right now just in case you do decide to switch programs later on, because you won't be able to switch after the changes go into effect.

I hope that helps.

EDIT: As Oscar has pointed out, .STEP exporting is now also part of the general consumer's license, and you can export to other CAD packages at any time. As far as I can tell, other parametric formats, notably .IGES, is still not available for consumers. This shouldn't pose too much of a problem.

I'm going to leave my original post intact for now.

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If you use the private license: there was supposed to be a cutoff date.

As long as you use the "private" license, you will get some restrictions. Originally, including the lock off of .step and similar files as well as limiting you to 10 active projects. This means, that you will need to deactivate some to make room for new ones, but unless you have many interlocking parts, 10 can be quite a lot for a hobbyist.

They also lock off features that are pretty much only useful for small companies - and if you are in the shoes missing those features, you are on the wrong free license anyway.

In late (25th.) September 2020, the lock of .step was reversed, but other formats will still no longer be available.

This does not apply to all free licenses

Note that this does not apply to the free education license for teachers and students or the free business license for sub 100,000 \$ companies. You might want to consider swapping to either of these two plans if you qualify.

Last words

I agree with Thomas Sanladerer: Autodesk is under no obligation to offer a free version at all and even a somewhat restricted, locked into the Autodesk-world version is much better than nothing. I will keep using it, but I am also in the education space and thus not directly affected.

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    $\begingroup$ They're under no obligation to offer a free version, but it is arguably unethical to retroactively break a free version that users have already obtained and locked their data into. $\endgroup$ Sep 25 '20 at 19:36

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