News from the democratization of 3D printing front: Popular Mechanics writer John Herman seeks the best way for newbs to get started in 3D modeling and printing, with himself as the guinea pig. “In search of an entry point,” he writes,” I found an app called Tinkercad.”
What sold him on Tinkercad? It’s web-based, it’s a solid modeler (as opposed to a mesh modeler), and it’s simple enough for beginners yet capable enough to create 3D printer-ready objects. He sculpts a PopMech paperweight and sends his STL file to Shapeways to be printed in gypsum-based “sandstone.”
Among other entry-level tools for 3D design, Herman says that Blender is powerful and versatile, “but it has a steep learning curve,” and he rates Autodesk 123D “a well-balanced tool kit for intermediate 3D-modelers.” Check out an overhauled Autodesk 123D (“Beta 9″) this week at 123dapp.com.