Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tinker....... CAD?

I've been playing with TinkerCAD here and there for a few weeks now.  TinkerCAD is a web based 3d modeling application.

It's pretty easy to learn and work with through a series of lessons that lead you step by step through building a model.

There is a limited use, free version (which I had been playing with until last night) and a paid version ($19/mo is the entry level up to $499/mo for enterprise level).

As far as the free use version goes, I was able to make a few things, but not able to save them should I want to make another.  I was able to export the .stl file to print using R2-D0NT, so that was pretty sweet.  If you don't have a 3D printer in your bedroom, they do offer print services through several 3D printing companies. If YOU want to have your object printed, be sure to contact us through MakeXYZ.

While we were working on Save the Dates for our upcoming wedding, we REALLY wanted to send something awesome. Which, of course, meant 3D printed.  While we were playing with ideas, I designed this key chain/tag pretty quickly, especially considering I don't really have any 3D modeling skills (I can draft the heck out 2D images but hadn't really gone too far into 3D work yet).  I have to say it couldn't have been more than 15 minutes of work to make.
We even did a test print of it (I have it hanging on my Alpine Mail Bag) and it was pretty awesome.  What made it most awesome though was the fact that we printed it in Glow in the Dark PLA.  

That was the first project I had created using TinkerCAD exclusively.  There is an option to import 2D .svg files as well as using the shapes provided by TinkerCAD. I had a lot of trouble importing .svg files when I first started using it.  I haven't tried it out in a while though.  Sometimes it would not be able to upload the file at all, while others it would distort the line work, but I'll save that for another post. 

I haven't really been able to test out the new features that have unlocked when switched to a paid account last night.  I'm planning to spend a bit of time each day checking it out and really evaluating the free v. paid features.  I'll also eventually compare it to software such as Autodesk Inventor. 

A few things that have me excited about TinkerCAD (even right away) are the simplicity and accessibility of it.  You can be up and creating relatively quickly through playing with it and the tutorials. It's simplicity can get anyone designing in no time.  I'll have my mom test that out.  That should be interesting.  Maybe she'll fall in love with 3D design and printing. 

TinkerCAD is web based, so you can pretty much work anywhere you have access to a browser that supports WebGL. Browsers that play nice with TinkerCAD are Chrome 10 or newer and Firefox 4 or newer.  

Think about how great that is for just a minute.  Not only can someone with no experience in 3D design get their feet wet, but you can work anywhere you have web access and a browser with WebGL support.  Your software isn't tying you to your computer any longer. 

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