CAD Craft & Design
Autodesk’s Free 123D Design App Comes to iPad, Mac OS

Autodesk has been steadily improving their 123D suite, but one missing piece for Mac users has been the flagship 123D CAD app. No longer; the successor to that app, 123D Design, is now out for Mac, PC, and iPad.

I gave the iPad version of 123D a try, and it’s a lot of fun. It doesn’t have all the features of the desktop 123D Design app (such as boolean operations). I was able to knock out a quick chess pawn in it, which you can view in the 123D gallery.

Speaking of the 123D gallery, you’re probably wondering how you get an STL off your iPad. You need to do a couple of things:

  • Make sure your model is good; don’t have any objects floating above other objects (for best results, make sure stacked objects overlap a bit). Otherwise you might not see an STL download option appear on the gallery.
  • Wait a while after you upload it, and revisit the gallery page. You should see an STL download option there. If you don’t see it appear after a while, you might have an imperfect model. Open your project in the desktop 123D Design app, choose Send To -> Print, and see if you get an error. You might have to fiddle with your model to get something printable.

After I downloaded the STL, I loaded it up in Repetier Host, and printed it on my PrintrBot, Jr.:

I might just get hooked on this!

50 thoughts on “Autodesk’s Free 123D Design App Comes to iPad, Mac OS

  1. Autodesk’s Free 123D Design App Comes to iPad, Mac OS | My Daily Feeds says:

    […] Read the full article on MAKE […]

  2. Felipe Sanches says:

    Beware! This is proprietary software. The naive use of the term “free” to refer to it can potentially lead people to misunderstand its non-free aspect in terms of users’ freedom to study the tool’s inner workings, to tweak it, adapt it, improve it and share it.

    1. Darrick says:

      He said free and not open.

      1. jucablues says:

        “Why Open Source misses the point of Free Software”

        1. jessedepinto says:

          Just because someone says that they define free as open does not mean that the word has changed its meaning. Free = No money!

    2. James Floyd Kelly says:

      So is Windows, Mac OS, and thousands of other products that people use every day. Just because something isn’t Open Source doesn’t mean it lacks value. Quite the opposite — often something proprietary has tech support and a high level of quality that is often missing in open source stuff. Don’t be so fast to critique free software, even if its from a for-profit organization.

      1. jucablues says:

        Even if a piece of proprietary software has “good value” in a technical sense due to its powerful & useful features, it is still detrimental from a social perspective since it significantly reduces the users’ abilities to help each other when things go wrong or when the tool is not powerful enough for the users’ actual needs. Proprietary technology providers treat us as “mere users” who can’t know how things actually work and can’t have autonomy over the technology we depend on.

        I’m not saying that proprietary stuff is useless. I’m just saying it’s an intellectual attack on society and that we (as a whole, but specially the maker community) should be more aware of it.

        1. jamesfloydkelly says:

          You’re drinking too much of the open source Koolaid. Saying things like “it is still detrimental from a social perspective since it significantly reduces the users’ abilities to help each other when things go wrong” is incorrect because you’re generalizing. I use plenty of proprietary software where the ability to get and give help is built into the software or at least is part of the community of users who purchased the software.

          Don’t get me wrong — I love open source stuff. But you’re throwing yourself into one corner of the ring and spouting way too much of the rhetoric. Autodesk has made this product free to use. Take it or leave it. Yes, it’s proprietary, but it doesn’t cost you a dime to use. And if they decide next year to charge $50 or even $1000 for it, users can walk.

          Quite honestly, it’s a slick, easy to use product. Point me to an open source CAD product that kids or non-techies can easily figure out, please.

          I have no affiliation with AutoDesk or any other CAD software developer. I’m just tired of hearing folks who are riding the open source bandwagon and critiquing products just because they can’t open the hood and rip out the guts. Not everyone wants or needs that capability.

          1. jucablues says:

            The fact that you’re tired of the ideas of the software freedom movement does not make such ideas any less legitimate. We’re talking about facts here: proprietary software is secret software. Maybe you like it that way. I cannot accept that.

            I criticize proprietary software because I disagree with such practices and because I truly believe it’s intellectually detrimental to society. Software is knowledge structured and condensed in algorithmic shape. When such knowledge is hidden from the overall population, then we live in a kind of “dark age” in which an elite (a “priesthood of technology”) controls how technology works and evolves.

            Assuming for a moment that you may be right about a lack of good quality free CAD software (free as in freedom, I mean), then it’s a really sad thing because innovation on this field would then continue to be restricted to the members of the “priesthood”. But using it as an excuse to promote secret software can only make it less likely to see further improvements in the truly free software.

            Are we really an information society? I don’t want to live in the dark age of computer knowledge. That’s why I call the attention to these things. I hope more people start thinking about these things in depth. Unfortunately, consumerism makes people tend to focus on things that “simply work”.

          2. Robert says:

            “just because they can’t open the hood and rip out the guts. Not everyone wants or needs that capability.”

            So I take it you don’t agree with the mantra “if you can’t open it, you don’t own it”?

          3. Brian Jepson says:

            Robert: I wouldn’t call “if you can’t open it, you don’t own it” a mantra; I’d prefer a more secular connotation such as “motto”. It summarizes the Maker’s Bill of Rights well, but there is nothing in that document that demands rigid ideological purity among those who are inspired by it.

            If you visit a Maker Faire, you’ll see many devices that fail the “if you can’t open it, you don’t own it” test: computers, mobile phones, automobiles, portable toilets, and more. And if you look at many of the things designed there, you’ll see things that were made with proprietary CAD and EDA tools. But you’ll also see many things that pass the tests in the Maker’s Bill of Rights with flying colors.

            I feel we should judge physical things, not people, by what’s in the Maker’s Bill of Rights, yet I believe the world will be a better place when more software and hardware follow the spirit of that document. But I may sometimes choose products or tools that don’t follow its spirit, and I certainly will not condemn another maker for her or his choices.

      2. Robert says:

        “often something proprietary has tech support”

        Implying that no open source software has commercial support.

        “a high level of quality that is often missing in open source stuff”

        It’s often missing from proprietary software too.

        He doesn’t say proprietary software is valueless, however you should be very careful when you choose to use it. Something like this that is “free” is “free” for as long as the provider decides to allow you to use it and then only on their terms (remember to read the EULA).

        This is not your pen. This is a bank’s pen-on-a-chain.

  3. Christian Restifo (@restifo) says:

    Ok, so it’s free as in beer, not as in speech. Big deal. Autodesk took the time to make a product (or rather a series of products) that they’re directly marketing at the maker movement. Good job, I say.

    I don’t think most makers (who come from a non-software development background) are really going to care. I think people are smart enough to understand what they’re being offered. As long as they’re not forcing you to save in some proprietary format that only their software can read, use it if you like it. If they start charging and you don’t like the price, switch to something else.

    And remember that this in an ecosystem. If you force everything to one format (open or proprietary), it will hurt the system. Open and non-open both have their place.

  4. Robert says:

    “Autodesk took the time to make a product (or rather a series of products) that they’re directly marketing at the maker movement.”

    Ever stop to wonder why they’ve done that?

    “Good job, I say.”

    I consider it a co-opting of the maker community.

    “If you force everything to one format (open or proprietary), it will hurt the system.”

    I’m not trying to force anything. I’m just being the ghost at the feast reminding people it’s not all rainbows and sunshine.

    But I don’t quite see what you mean by “force”. Nobody has the power to force anything. Certainly not I. The only force that has any sway here is market forces – consumers deciding they simply won’t put up with something. And I think it’s hard to argue that market forces are a harmful thing to an ecosystem. I don’t think many people would agree that e.g. consumer pressure against companies like Nike employing child labour is unhealthy thing.

    (no, I’m not saying proprietary software is like child labour, let’s not go off on that tangent)

    1. Christian Restifo (@restifo) says:

      How is it co-opting the maker movement?

  5. In_Spired says:

    Odd that so many who hate proprietary (non-open) products & software LOVE their Apple iPhone, iPad, etc.

    Seems like the hatred/disdain is only when it is convenient.

    Autodesk did not have to give away anything. This was a gift that you can chose to accept or not. Some will complain no matter what.

    Enough with the ‘victim mentality’; “we are the poor 99%”. Grow up. Socialism has never worked. Demanding that information (that took time, energy, trial and error) be public is ludicrous.

    Work hard at something that people will be happy to pay for instead of having to make themselves. You will then have enough to feed your family and have plenty to give to others.

    1. jessedepinto says:

      I completely agree with you In_Spired. The fact is that this app can benefit both Makers and Prosumers, but both groups have different needs. In light of this debate (which comes up too often) I wrote up a piece because I thought it might be helpful to define our terms…

    2. Robert says:

      Well, thanks for the strawman, but no, I would never own any apple products. And I don’t think anyone who really cares about software freedom would.

      As for the free software and “socialism” slurs (I know they work well in the US), I thought people had got over that in the mid-00’s. Free software, far from being “socialist”, is the greatest expression of the free market possible. A user of free software can hire *anyone* to fix, improve or work on whatever software they’re using – they have full source code and the right to do pretty much anything they like with it. Compare with proprietary software vendor, where the source is secret, information is tightly controlled because of IP paranoia, you have a single possible source to go to to get serious problems fixed or new features added – and they may well choose not to cooperate due to various commercial interests.

      Signing a contract with a proprietary software vendor is like signing yourself out of the free market. Proprietary software is protectionism. The “free” in “free software” is “free” as in “free market”.

      Anyway, this is offtopic as we’re talking about different sorts of software now – I come from a background where making decisions about software is *really* important.

    3. jucablues says:

      I own a company fully committed to 100% free software (free as in freedom) and open hardware. This company pays the salaries of 8 people. How can that be socialism? How can that not be “feeding our families” ?

      1. Poop Mcgee says:

        Lol this guy is obviously an uber troll.

  6. MAKE | Your Comments says:

    […] the article Autodesk’s Free 123D Design App Comes to iPad, Mac OS, user James Floyd Kelly […]

  7. Makers or Prosumers? | Jesse DePinto says:

    […] to understand why they feel compelled to participate in their product development process. Many heated debates are present as a result of similar technology being shared by groups with varying mindsets, such as […]

  8. NavisWorks Mobile App is now available for iPad « المصمم says:

    […] Autodesk’s Free 123D Design App Comes to iPad, Mac OS ( […]

  9. Insulted says:

    This commenting layout is insulting.

  10. wifi says:


    Autodesk’s Free 123D Design App Comes to iPad, Mac OS | MAKE

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I'm a tinkerer and finally reached the point where I fix more things than I break. When I'm not tinkering, I'm probably editing a book for Maker Media.

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