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An in-browser CAD tool that's great for beginners. Try it here, and check out our 3D Printing Guide for an in-depth tutorial.

An in-browser CAD tool that’s great for beginners. Try it here, and check out our 3D Printing Guide for an in-depth tutorial.

Tinkercad is back — and it’s even better.

Autodesk announced today they’ve signed a deal to acquire Tinkercad and revive the popular web-based 3D design tool and its growing community of makers and educators.

Tinkercad shut down in March to the disappointment of many makers who appreciate its simplicity and ease of use for creating 3D models in the cloud. New accounts were frozen, and old accounts were to be phased out. In its place, Tinkercad morphed into Airstone, a 3D software company geared to the professional engineer.

But as of 1pm today, Tinkercad is back in business and reopened to new accounts that will be even more robust than before.

Free accounts will now have access to store unlimited numbers of models, and to import 3D meshes in STL format and 2D files in SVG format for editing within Tinkercad. Freeloaders will even have access to shape-scripting tools for generating 3D models parametrically. These options were previously available only to paid accounts.

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Tinkercad will continue to support 3D printing integration with Shapeways, i.Materialise, Sculpteo, and Ponoko.

“We are excited to have reached an agreement with Autodesk that will provide a solid home and bright future for Tinkercad,” said Tinkercad founder Kai Backman, currently CEO of Airstone Labs.

“We’re as excited as Kai and his team,” said Mary Hope McQuiston, marketing director for Autodesk’s consumer group. “Tinkercad is a natural extension of Autodesk’s 123D suite, our consumer 3D design portfolio, and our desire to make 3D design accessible to everyone.” Eventually Tinkercad will connect into the 123D line, she said.

Tinkercad uses a supercomputer-scale 3D modeling kernel to provide its innovative browser-based 3D CAD tool. Backman and his team will continue to develop supercomputer 3D modeling at Airstone providing real-time 3D design and physics simulations for product designers and engineers.

Backman previously indicated that their cloud-based system was a key component of Airstone and couldn’t be opened up for a third party to take over Tinkercad. But that’s changed too, he told me.

“When Airstone started working on its cloud-based supercomputer there wasn’t an option to sell the Tinkercad service due to restrictions around how the source code was organized. The Airstone engineering team eventually managed to remove these restrictions, making an asset transfer to Autodesk possible. Autodesk has purchased all the core technology required to operate Tinkercad,” Backman said.

The deal is to close within 30 days. So are Kai and his crew out shopping for new Tesla roadsters? “We are planning to invest heavily into Airstone and building our supercomputing as a service platform,” Backman says. Fair enough.

Come check out Autodesk at Maker Faire Bay Area today and tomorrow in Expo Hall!

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Comments

  1. Bob says:

    Yeees. I was really bummed when the announcement came that Tinkercad was being shut down. It was the first CAD software that I had found that was easy enough for me to actually make finished prototypes and models with. Now I just hope that Autodesk will add a ‘smooth’ feature so that curved surfaces won’t have to be sanded into oblivion.

    1. Kai Backman says:

      Autodesk has a top notch engineering team assigned to the project and this was one of the top ranking features. There certainly is hope.. :-)

  2. Robert says:

    Hooray for the whims of proprietary software – this time I’m sure it will be _forever_.

    You people are gluttons for punishment ;)

  3. Rojer says:

    I am so pleased with this news. I wished I had taken a moment to check my email yesterday while I was there. I would have given Autodesk a big hug. I hope that they will add text input for dimensions and improve stability with larger, more complex objects. Hurray, yippie, and hallelujah!