Tinkercad to Close Shop

3D Printing & Imaging CAD Craft & Design
Tinkercad to Close Shop
Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 5.36.06 PM
Source: CNET

Tinkercad, an extremely popular web-based 3D modeling tool, announced it will discontinue development and shut down. The company will shift its energies into a new 3D modeling environment and hardware service called Airstone. While Tinkercad catered to, well tinkerers, Airstone is targeted to the professional engineer. Read all about the company’s decision here.

Part’s of Tinkercad’s appeal was its ease of use for CAD and 3D modeling newbies. It included a direct line to 3D printing services, making the path to creating 3D objects easy for the casual designer. So why pull the plug?

Kai Backman.

Kai Backman, company founder and CEO, said they couldn’t continue to develop and maintain both platforms and had to choose.

“We eventually figured out we had to let one of those go,” he said.

While both Tinkercad and Airstone will have a similar interface, Kai said Airstone is for “a very different audience.” Namely, professional engineers and architects who need super computer muscle to create and render 3D objects in near-real time speed.

On Tinkercad’s blog some users who lamented the service’s impending disappearance suggested open sourcing the software and turning it over to the community. No can do, said Kai. The core system is a key component of Airstone and it can’t be opened up, he said.

“It would basically be giving the whole business away,” he said.

With new investment in Airstone that’s not something the company is about to do.

But Kai expressed his gratitude to the Tinkercad community, adding that he was “humbled” by the volume of stuff he’s seen created on TinkerCAD.

“This was a really hard decision,” he said. “Most of us are makers and it really was a labor of love.”

Kai declined to recommend another maker-friendly CAD tool. We’ll offer some suggestions in a post tomorrow.

22 thoughts on “Tinkercad to Close Shop

  1. andytanguay says:

    Wow, just like a real cloud, a lot of the services people come to rely on are starting to dissipate.

    I don’t use TinkerCAD, but between this and Google Reader shooing people out it’s closing doors, the not-so-silver lining of these cloud apps are beginning to show. As it’s been pointed out, at least an abandoned piece of software could possibly continue to work for years of not decades, but a cloud service is literally gone tomorrow. Interesting stuff.

    (Sorry for so many atmospheric puns, they’re just so danged easy)

  2. jucablues says:

    That’s why we keep always saying “Free as in freedom! Free as in freedom!”

  3. Samet Özdemir says:

    Paylaşım için teşekkürler yararlı ve bilgilendirici olmuş.Başarılar dilerim

  4. Timothy Gray says:

    Sounds like they are making more money on the other side, so closing this down is a profit measure.

  5. Jerry Tremble says:

    Ah! A profit deal!

  6. Robert says:

    I idly wonder whether anyone’s analyzed how much tinkercad actually relies on communication with the server side and how easy it would be to take a copy of the client side code and modify it to work standalone or with a mocked up server.

    Of course the real lesson here is to avoid nonfree software, but I’m sure you all know that already.

    1. Adalbert says:

      I don’t have a TinkerCAD account so I can’t look into the code. Could you share a login to TinkerCad or mak a zip copy of tinkercad interface/webpage and send to me

  7. andrew says:

    There is another browser based 3D modeling tool. Has more functions than TinkerCad. It is free :(


  8. Alan Dove says:

    If you can’t open it and didn’t pay for it, you don’t own it. If you don’t own it, it can vanish from underneath you at any time. So don’t rely on “free” stuff that isn’t Free.

  9. Paul says:

    This would really make me think twice before using ANY of this company’s cloud “products” in the future. Particularly if I was considering using it for professional purposes, as is suggested that the new product will be aimed toward. I can understand ceasing to develop the old service further, but they could have at least allowed continued hobbiest use, for which they have engendered such good-will to date.

  10. okkent (@okkent) says:

    I used TinkerCad to do just that, tinker. I also read of them at different maker type functions, seeming like they were really trying to bring in users. This seems like a BIG F YOU to all those hobbyists. I’ll make sure I remember their names and avoid any future product they are involved in.

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Stett Holbrook is editor of the Bohemian, an alternative weekly in Santa Rosa, California. He is a former senior editor at Maker Media.

He is also the co-creator of Food Forward, a documentary TV series for PBS about the innovators and pioneers changing our food system.

View more articles by Stett Holbrook


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