December 28, 2022

What’s the difference between Components and Bodies in Autodesk Fusion 360?

Teaching modeling in Fusion 360 has been a challenge I haven’t run into before when teaching solids modeling software – namely, what are bodies and components?

It’s easy to jump into modeling in Fusion 360 and start making sketches and extrusions and designing stuff. It’s fun! In teaching school students this, they generally dive in and attack whatever problem they are trying to solve. And then I come along and put the brakes on a bit and start talking about components, and joints, and parts lists… and things like that.

Don’t worry, they get even. They will quickly ask “what’s the best way to….?” And Fusion 360 is so flexible that there isn’t a single answer. It’s like asking, ‘what’s the best way to drive to the office?’ Well, it depends on the weather, the time of day, and if you need to stop for coffee on the way.

But back to components vs. bodies. This difference can be as simple as this: bodies make up the physical shape, components are what you can go out and buy.


  • Components can have part numbers and other metadata. Components show up on Parts Lists.
  • Components can be parts, or they can be assemblies. New designs start as single part files, but when you create a new component in a design that file becomes an assembly. You can also have subassemblies within your design file.
  • You can put joints between components to allow, or prevent, relative motion. You can’t put joints between bodies. This is key when you are designing machinery or products where you need to visualize the motion between parts.


  • Bodies have volume. (Unless they are surface bodies, but that’s a different story). Bodies make up the shape of a component. They are created from features such as extrusions, revolves, sweeps, etc.
  • You can move and copy bodies, but you can’t make joints between bodies. So, no relative motion. Move a body and it stays put in the new spot.

  • Bodies can have materials and appearances applied to them. This ability to have different materials on different bodies is a bit surprising if you are used to other solids modeling software. In Autodesk Inventor, material is only applied to parts.

That’s the basic working definitions of components and bodies. As I mentioned, there are several different ways to work in Fusion 360. Coming up, I’ll take a look at some different ways to create components.

By: Jim Swain, Application Consultant, Manufacturing, Synergis Technologies, LLC.