Tinkercad: Making 3D Design Accessible
Posted ago by Hoon
There are many ways to promote your invention idea on Quirky, but it’s hard to overstate the value of a great visual. Quirky is made up of a community of visual thinkers, so the more illustrations you provide in your idea submission, the more likely it is for community members to understand your idea and provide you with the appropriate feedback.
Unfortunately, not all of us are equipped with a talent for drawing, or 3D modeling for that matter (myself included!). I basically associate 3D drawing with high levels of stress and constant fingernail biting, as I struggle to figure out how to use a piece of 3D CAD (computer-aided design) software.
This is where Tinkercad comes in. It’s a user-friendly, browser-based (no need to install and download) CAD program designed to make 3D modeling accessible to people like you and me. For an amateur inventor, there are few better entries into the world of complex renders and rapid prototyping.
On my first trial run, I was able to create a 3D model of Quirky’s Pivot Power in about 10 minutes. The program runs on two basic concepts: (1) You can add shapes to your design either as solids or holes and/or (2) combine a number of shapes together to form new shapes. Tinkercad’s interface is both simple and intuitive, allowing you to drag and drop objects, move objects into and out of other objects, and zoom in and out with ease. Best of all, whenever you complete a design, you have the option to either download it or send it to a 3D-printing company for prototyping.
How Do I Get Started?
If you’re interested in getting your feet wet, head over to Tinkercad’s website and sign up for a free trial (you’re allowed to create up to 5 designs). To get some initial guidance on the various tools on Tinkercad, you can open up interactive tutorials called Quests that teach you new skills as you progress.
Plans & Pricing
If you want to go beyond the 5 designs limit on the free trial, you can purchase various subscription plans starting from 9.99/month to 49.99/month. The more you pay for your subscription, the more designs you’re able to create: higher subscription levels also allow you to invite more people to share your storage space on Tinkercad. Paid plans also allow you to keep your designs private, a helpful feature when working on a product concept.
Things to Know
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when using Tinkercad:
1. Any design that is created on Tinkercad becomes public. This allows you to also browse through other people’s designs to either copy and/or build on top of their designs.
2. Browsers that work well with Tinkercad are Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
3. Tinkercad is a very simple software. If you want to print complex models with intricate curves, you might want to use AutoCad, Blender or Maya. Take a look at some projects on Thingiverse to see what Tinkercad is capable of.