One of our main missions at Printrbot Learn is to help people get into making and designing in their classrooms as simply as possible.
Tinkercad is one of the tools that makes the hurdle of 3D modelling and design smaller.
Tinkercad is a free online 3D modelling service that you simply need to make an account for in order to use. Although it will give you messages about your “free” account and the number of models you have online – don’t worry. The account is completely free and you can make and save an unlimited number of models. (I asked!)
Tinkercad has a number of predefined geometric shapes that you can start with for the basis of your model. You can then change these up and modify the shapes as you need them. There is also a growing number of shapes that you can use in your own models that have been uploaded by people in the community.
While the tool does take some playing with if you want to make intricate models, it is definitely possible to do and I’ve seen some great stuff made by students and teachers.
One of the things that I appreciate the most about Tinkercad is the flawless export of stl files. While some design programs give you models that are difficult to use and end up with slicing errors, in my experience with Tinkercad, every model that I’ve created and downloaded has sliced flawlessly and is ready to print.
Here is the stl file for the car I designed in the screenshot above if you’d like to download it and print it yourself.
Along with Tinkercad itself, I’d like to put in a plug for a new book from James Floyd Kelly. Mr. Kelly has a number of books about technology that would be of interest to people who want to make and design in their classrooms. This book looks to be a great addition to his writings.
The book includes an overview of 3D modelling basics as well as specific information about how to use Tinkercad. Mr. Kelly also leads the reader through a couple of projects and includes hints to improve your 3D modelling skills.
I’ve got my copy and it will be a great addition to my classroom for both myself and my students. Mr. Kelly can be found on twitter @jamesfloydkelly