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.

To learn more about Tinkercad, check out their Facebook page, or follow them on Twitter (@tinkercad)!

Comments (19)

<p>The Chrome app 3DTin is nearly the same as Tinkercad and the free version isn&#8217;t limited to 5 designs.</p>
Zoli Honig
This is awesome. Sketchup evloved.
Jason Hennessy
Brilliant post Hoon! Thanks for this. No more crayolas for me!! Cheers!
Thank you for the article! Have you tried 123D http://www.123dapp.com which is free app?
Phill West
Thanks for this
Hoon, thanks for the Tinkercad tips!
Heather O'Donahoe
Thank you so much - I will try it - I can't draw for SHIT and I think it hurts my ideas.......
Kai Backman
This is Kai from Tinkercad, thanks for the great write up. One quick comment, the paid plans in Tinkercad allow you to keep your designs private, which is pretty important when working on something commercial.
Rene Feusi
Thanks for the tip! I'm gonna try that soon!
Baron Nagy
Thanks for the heads up Kai, we've made the change :)
Ernesto Tan
I've been using Sketch up 8 for my ideations , I will try this one , it looks like better than Sketch up as you it's user Friendly I hope! This could be my new Friend!
Robert Murphy
I'm sticking with Google SketchUp but this is a great post.
It has been a challenge for me to convey my ideas into images. I tried Tinkercad last week, after tinkering around and learning how to use the tools through the interactive tutorials I was able to make a simple 3D design. Thank you for the opportunity to learn something new Quirky and Tinkercad!
Julio C Del Castillo
I can draw but this is great!
Brandon Murray
Would Quirky 3D print a design from Tinkercad if interested in it? Or is the only the option "send it to a 3D-printing company for prototyping"?
Jason Hunter
It's now gone!
Tinker Cad is an amazing tool. I tried it out and found it easier to learn than SketchUp. I was very sad to hear that they are stopping development of the tool in order to focus on other projects. Why doesn't Quirky purchase Tinker Cad, throw some developers on it, and sell it as an add on to their PRO service or as a standalone application. I think it would be a great investment and gift to the inventor community. https://tinkercad.com/
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