Creators of Tinkercad announced earlier this week that they would no longer be developing the popular cloud-based CAD tool. We’re fans of Tinkercad here at MAKE, having written about and praised it on the blog and in our Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing, so this is sad news. It’s going to be replaced by new software, called Airstone, that’s meant for a completely different, professional, audience. You can read more about Airstone here.
The free version of Tinkercad is still available to use between now and the end of April, and paying customers will have access until the end of 2013 (you can read more about the timeline on the Tinkercad blog).
Here are a few other free alternatives to Tinkercad, starting with what I think is the most beginner-friendly and ending with the least beginner-friendly:
An in-browser tool that started out as a simple shape editors, with specific blocks that you can duplicate and manipulate to make models. Now it’s become much more robust, with a multitude of modeling features. I’m looking forward to seeing this take over for Tinkercad as the go-to tool for learning 3D modeling.
Try it here.
Originally created by Google and now owned by Trimble. Great for rectilinear things like creating a model of your home or future workbench. It’s not great for complex curves and spheres, but an all-around fantastic tool that’s definitely worth checking out. It also has a great community behind it that have created useful plugins for doing things like exporting directly to an STL file for printing or a DXF for 2D cutting.
Autodesk’s answer to Tinkercad. 123D is flexible, running on Mac and PC and available in-browser or as a downloadable app. Many users have found that the downloadable app is prone to crashing, but this is another simple CAD tool with a surprisingly large number of features.
Autodesk Inventor Fusion
A recent addition to the Autodesk arsenal, Fusion is a clone of the popular (but expensive) Autodesk Inventor. Fusion is feature-rich and therefore probably not a great place to start if you’ve never done 3D modeling before. However, if you started with Tinkercad and feel like it’s time for an upgrade, it may be worth checking out.
As far as I know, it’s only available for OSX at this time. You can download it here.
An open-source CAD program for Mac, Linux, and PC, built for Product Design and Engineering. Like Fusion, it’s also feature-rich and has a high learning curve, compared to the aforementioned options. Once again, check this out if you’re interested in upgrading from a simpler program.
Download it here.
Described as “CAD for programmers,” OpenSCAD turns text into 3D Parts. If you’ve never done any 3D modeling or coding before, I’d be wary of jumping in here, but it’s a great resource for those of you who’re interested in creating parts with what’s essentially a 3D compiler, giving you full control over the model and each step of the process.
Download it here.
Did I miss anything? Tinkercad users, what are you going to move to in the near future? Please share with us in the comments below.