Poll: Fusion 360 vs Blender for Keyboard/Keycap design

Hey all, I’m wanting to get into keyboard and keycap design as well as some (at least for now) basic furniture design and I’m wondering what you’d suggest I learn. I have some previous education in AutoCAD and basic 3D rendering using that software but obviously that wouldn’t be appropriate for more industrial use.

From what I’ve read I’ve narrowed it down to Blender or Fusion 360 plus adding something like KeyShot for rendering, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and also if you have any resources you recommend checking out for beginners.

@Zambumon @MiTo @Oblotzky @janglad @voodoo6k I’d really be interested to know what software you folks use for your workflows as I’ve always admired each of your various renderings. I know it takes a lot of patience and time to master these tools but I’d like to start with the right foot forward!

Thanks a lot!

  • Blender
  • Fusion 360
  • Other

0 voters

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I use 3Ds Max for modeling, Keyshot for rendering and Photoshop for post processing


Quite an honour to be mentioned with these designers! :pray:

I use 3ds Max and V-Ray. I did basic AutoCAD. Max is appropriate if you want to get into architectural modelling or the gaming industry. If you have a student email, you can get a free Max license for 3 years, I believe.

That being said, my brain works better in an industrial design setting. Therefore, AutoCAD (and SolidWorks) are more intuitive to me. Max is very approximate and probably better for artists and animators.

I can’t really recommend anything else because that’s all I’ve tried. I’m stuck with Autodesk.

Good luck


Thanks for answering!

I’ll have to look into that option further.
The more I look into it, it seems like it’s more about using the tool you know more so than picking necessarily the right or best tool. Probably also nice to learn more than one.

For those who answered other and didn’t write anything what are your suggestions?

Fusion360 is free at the maker tier, and it wasn’t that hard to relearn switching from Inventor and AutoCAD. I have used 3DSMax and it’s less my style (I like creative absolutism, parametric drafting).

I think it also really depends on the kind of design you’re doing. There are a number of libraries of common profiles if you’re doing aesthetics design, but I like testing new profiles so I lean towards CAD programs, just use KLE/Sketch/Affinity Designer for keyset design.


Fusion is fantastic, as an education license gives you anything you could possible need in any of Autodesk’s products. Fusion has a built in renderer, and the CAD is very nice. Although once you start getting into more complex models and designs, it starts to slow down, at least on my hardware.

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unfortunately even with fairly high end hardware fusion seems to bog down pretty easily. If I put too much on a single sketch (plates are a good example) fusion is brought to it’s knees.

Just wait until you have a PCB… that REALLY sucks.

I’ve made some fake ones for some renders… I agree, it does suck XD

Coming from an engineering context, I’m confused as to why people would consider Blender for engineering related purposes, isn’t it typically used for animation?

I haven’t actually used that software before as animation is not my area of expertise, but unless it’s got plugins that allows you to do accurate dimensioning and geometric constraints, parametric tools and integrated drawing/drafting tools, I wouldn’t even consider it as a viable option (not when there’s specific CAD suites you can use that’s fit for purpose).

As mentioned above, much of Autodesk’s large catalogue of products is available for free if you sign up for an education license, and their licensing terms are pretty permissive and quite generous for individual non commercial use.

I tend to stick with Siemens NX at work and Inventor/Fusion at home, but that’s mainly because NX is required for work and Fusion is free and good enough for what I need it to do

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I feel this so hard. There is this program called Pico8 which is like an emulator for a console that never existed, and it’s adorable with somewhat artificial limits on how large a game file and how many lines of code you can have. Working complex models like full keyboards feels like using Pico8, you have to constantly think about the order you use because history-based parametric modeling grows large math chains very quickly, where the architecture of Fusion as well as single-thread limitations overtake the software’s capability.

I spec’d it out and it’s cheaper to get a new CPU than switch to Solidworks, so in Fusion I keep on keeping on.


Thanks everyone who’s provided input so far. Lots of interesting perspectives! I think I’m going to start with Fusion 360 and see how I like it and maybe pick up something else along the way or instead later on.

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Ideally, you want both.
Blender is good for making a fast rapid prototype to get the rough dimensions in. From my perspective, 20 minutes into prototyping in Solid or Fusion, and you’re spending most of your time trying to resolve conflicting constraints, or decide to scrap it and sketch from scratch. In Blender this is a non-issue, and the mesh modelling tools are amongst the best available.

When you got the initial thing in, and know the rough dimensions, drawing the thing in Solid/Fusion is a breeze. If you try to do that in Blender, it’s gonna fight you like a rabid werewolf. It lacks the proper tools for mechanical design, and you don’t have modules for lasercutting, sheet bending, milling, etc. There is a CAM plugin for Blender, and at least two CAD plugins, but they are pretty niche and limited compared to a full blown dedicated CAD tool.

Once you’re done, you bring that back into Blender for rendering, STL mesh cleanup, because CADs are notoriously bad at that, or minor dimension tweaks for early prototypes that you back-port into your cad drawings. Blender’s got a really good toolchain to make great renders of the models, really a question how far are you willing to go into texturing and material tweaking.

Rhino tries to merge those two processes to a certain degree, and afair Autodesk tried making a tool or a mode that did that as well. I think it was called Flow or something. Never found that useful personally.

I’m a Solid guy myself. Don’t like Fusion’s cloud features, though the interface is great.

Some people I know use Solvespace, it’s a common option if you want opensource or linux support.

Essentially, a mesh modeller and CAD software are complementary, and let you do things faster and more freely. It’s good to know both if you can afford the time investment.


That was quite insightful, thanks @sinusoid

I use Fusion360 both for modelling and rendering.

Fusion really isn’t designed with rendering as the main goal though, and thus it’s very limited. Only reason I use it is because it support cloud rendering, and I don’t have a computer powerful enough to render locally.

As soon as I do I plan on switching, I’d really love to have some more manual control.

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Personally I use Autodesk Inventor or AutoCad. That being said I have used Fusion 360 a little bit and it is a great piece of software and when my Inventor access expires I will be switching over to Fusion 360.

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