Autodesk offers a full repertoire of 3D modeling software packages that fit not only the needs of the beginning designer, but up to and including software powerful enough for the business user. Additionally, all of these software packages are free for non-commercial users.
Tinkercad is a cloud based software package geared to the beginning designer. It offers easy to use design features and 3D models for younger designers and problem solvers. Also, pre-assembled text and symbols are available for manipulation, which make working with 3D letters a snap. The Import function allows .svg files to be uploaded and provides the user with tools to stretch and size any image that will make a good silhouette. For example, the AF Wings Ornament below was created by downloading a picture of AF Wings and creating a .svg file. I imported the file into Tinkercad and was off to the races. Lastly, Tinkercad comes with its own set of lessons in which the software walks new students through multiple scenario based sessions and when completed provides a good fundamental understanding of how to use the software.
Though Tinkercad is simple to use, it is limited in functionality. I recommend this software for younger students such as 1st through 7th graders. Older students will likely find Tinkercad inadequate for solving more complicated problems.
Hence, another product from Autodesk123d is simply named “Design.” I’m not sure where the company stands on this package, as in the past they offered it as cloud software as well as desktop. However, it seems they have dropped it from the cloud and I can only find the desktop version here for download. This is a great intermediate level software package, which is easy to learn and easy to use. It is considerably more powerful and yet not so much that it is overwhelmingly difficult to learn. The software is well suited for 8th through 12th graders and provides all the tools necessary for students to draw and 3D print almost any project they can imagine.
Lastly, the advanced version of “Design” is named Fusion360. This is an advanced professional grade software package and is extremely powerful and complicated to use. Most high school students can likely master it with a little dedication, although, it will take time to master all aspects of the software. Luckily there are plenty of tutorial videos on their website and Youtube.
Well, I hope you have enjoyed this brief overlook of design software. When you decide which package is best suited for your class, please let us know why and how you came to your conclusions and happy printing!