So I've designed a few components in Fusion 360, but I'm kinda new to CAD. I did the tutorials AutoDesk have on YouTube, modelled an Arduino enclosure, a shampoo bottle, a lamp shade, etc. but what I'm doing now isn't as straightforward...

Before I used to create solids, but what I'm doing right now is essentially a flimsy plastic part, just a sheet of plastic with a rim, and some other "rib" features, and doing solids you have to make a sketch, and every line has to be doubled because of the thickness of the material.

Today I'm trying surfaces after being clued by the "Thicken" command, I figured maybe that was more efficient, but I'm not sure if I'm on the right track.

When I work with solids, I end-up with the option to join whatever new feature to the main body, but with surfaces I end-up with a bunch of bodies that are essentially supposed to be one, and I don't know how to join them together after.

I guess they could be put together in a "component", but I think components are more like a nut is a solid, a bolt is a solid, and a component is a nut and a bolt, not a bolt head, and a threaded cylinder... So the way the software is made right now at this point, while it clued me to use surfaces, now it's cluing me that there's something I'm missing, or nor doing right...

There's no CAD Stack Exchange site, and I realize this might be a bit specific, but the part is to be 3D printed, I bought a new 3D printer not long ago for a project, but I need to get better at CAD before I can make it...

Attached is a screenshot of what I worked on, it's paths that I've extruded to create surfaces (tall edges), thickened those surfaces to create bodies, patched some surfaces to fill areas, thickened those as well (ended-up with stair-shaped corners that I fixed somehow), then I cut some bodies from the bodies below to end-up with that you see now...

I think I'm on the right path with surfaces, but I don't think my workflow is right, and I was wondering if anyone could help me...

Right now, there's supposed to be two screw wells in two corners of the circle, essentially wells with a hole in the bottom for a thumbtack to go through, and there's going to be a cap to cap it off, it's kind of the same process as what I've done so far, but like I said, I don't think I'm doing it right...

What I've got so far...
(source: 000webhostapp.com)

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The question is very vague, I don't understand why you are talking about thickening surfaces, just draw a sketch and pull the component from the sketch surfaces, this should take about 2 minutes to draw this way (you might need an extra sketch to cut out the round parts). Do you imply that you need screw holes? Just subtract/cot out the holes and put threads on the cut-out surface. We are aware that there is no CAD or Fusion360 SE so some questions are allowed here. Note there is a Blender SE. $\endgroup$
    – 0scar
    Dec 8, 2020 at 8:24
  • $\begingroup$ It sounds like you are on the right path. But as with most skills, experience is the best teacher. The more you work at it and the more mistakes you make, the more you will grow. Even if what you try isn't what you intend, you will learn something new that can be used later. Keep at it! $\endgroup$
    – agarza
    Dec 8, 2020 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ @agarza : I totally agree with you there, and I can entirely relate, but I'm bothering asking because I'm afraid to learn something that's either useless, or the wrong way, and sometimes I learn things on my own that are hard to un-learn afterwards because I built-up speed the wrong way, and it's hard to go back. I just thought maybe someone might help me make some sense of things, I guess... Or maybe even just narrow down what my difficulty is enough throigh discussing it so that I can look up tutorials, or videos or something after... But I agree, you need some experience to learn well. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2020 at 3:09
  • $\begingroup$ Nothing you learn is useless! Even mistakes are part of the learning experience! $\endgroup$
    – 0scar
    Dec 9, 2020 at 9:21

2 Answers 2


Ok, let's go down the main two ways to a part, and in practice you usually use both to design for 3D printing. Only for machining, you try to keep to the cutting method only.

  • Cutting Method
  • Building Method

Cutting Method

You start with a piece of "stock". A cube or cylinder created by extruding the simple shape. Now you go and create profiles that you either extrude into the part or rotate around the axis - your profile "cuts" the "stock". When doing this, you think of parts like a machinist: you remove the material as a mill or lathe would.

a cut in progress

Buildup Method

You start with the profile of the piece, then extrude it, then add the next detail and so on. I work a lot with that, and you can have a lot of sketches in the end:

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ What I was doing before was mostly build-up, but because the part I'm working on now is very thin - it's a mounting bracket - so just pockets, and thin walls, I remembered the "thicken" command that works on surfaces (rather than solids). With solids and thin parts you get sketch lines that are very close to each other, and it's kinda hard to work with at times; I thoight working with surfaces might be the right way because of that "thicken" feature that seems to be made to make thin walls from 2D surfaces. It's something that would get injection molded, it's like making the inverse of molds. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2020 at 3:19

After @Trish posted their answer, I went back to my design, and used substractive design, because I watch a lot of machining videos, and instead of the "thicken" feature that kinda did what I wanted, I used the "shell" command that did exactly what I wanted, see below.

Shell solids instead of thicken faces


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