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What is TinkerCAD: All About 3D Modelling Software

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All our reviews are based on our personal experience and deep research. We are supported by our partners, and we might earn commission from qualified purchases through affiliate links with no additional costs for the buyer. Read more.

Featured image - TinkerCAD overview.
Anker Maker 3D Pinter.

Are you fascinated by the prospect of breathing life into your imagination with 3D Modelling and want to step up your game in it?

For many hobbyists like you, it is not handy to work with industry-level software for a multitude of reasons. 

However, what if I tell you that you can create high-level designs and 3D print them without much of a learning curve and complexity?

TinkerCAD boasts its popularity in doing just that.

Founded by Google engineers Kai Backman and Miko Mononen in 2011, the software was acquired by Autodesk in 2013, which further upgraded it by adding more sophisticated and advanced tools.

Kai and Miko initially created the software to make 3D modeling and design more accessible to the general public.

Users are just an internet connection away from using TinkerCAD to materialize their fantasies. 

Due to its beginner-friendly and intuitive interface, TinkerCAD has been the top choice of leading schools for developing essential virtual 3D modeling skills in their students.

Research conducted in Turkey proved that using TinkerCAD significantly boosted the students’ curiosity and interest in 3D Modelling because of the software’s simplicity.

The best part is, it is free!

In this TinkerCAD overview, I’ll discuss the main aspects that make this software such a great tool for 3D modeling enthusiasts.

How to use the tool, primary features, interface, shortcuts, and pricing, all these questions will be answered in the sections above.

Let’s start with the description of the software.

What is TinkerCAD?

TinkerCAD is an all-in-one computer-aided design software (CAD) that has made the lives of many rookie designers and modelers easy.

It is based on the constructive solid geometry concept, which means you can create intricate designs quickly and efficiently. 

Using circuits and code blocks can further optimize the 3D models created in the software, and users can ultimately 3D print them.

Users can save their digital designs in STL, OBJ, and SVG file formats which they can directly import into a 3D printer to make functional 3D models. 

TinkerCAD’s user interface is the primary selling factor, as it is relatively the most uncomplicated and beginner-level simple.

TinkerCAD overview - interface screenshot.
Source: 3DprintingGeeK

This is evident from the fact that TinkerCAD has around 50 million users as of August 2022.

How To Use TinkerCAD

Unlike other software, getting started with TinkerCAD is not a hassle.

You can begin modeling simple daily essentials and tools like wrenches, screwdrivers, etc., with just 5-minute simple concepts and tricks in check.

Basic Workflow

Before you hop on your browser and start building that Apollo 13 rocket model, let us walk you through the primary steps and functions involved in 3D Modelling with TinkerCAD.

First, create your account on tinkercad.com by signing up on the website for free.

After signing up, go to the website’s homepage and click the ‘Create New Design’ option.

Create new design,
Source: 3DprintingGeeK

You will land on a screen with many tools on its top, left, and right sides, with a vast workspace grid in the center where you will be doing all your work.

For an overview, on the left side of the toolbar at the screen’s top, you will see the ‘Copy,’ ‘Paste,’ and ‘Delete’ buttons, which are most probably familiar to you already.

On the right side are the ‘Group’ and ‘Align’ tools, which you will use to combine shapes and remove material from your model.

You can use your mouse’s scroll wheel to zoom in and out of the workspace, but if you are not used to it, then the options are on the navigation tools side to the left of the screen.

Let’s end the tools overview with the leading and most used component: the Shape Panel.

Present on the right side of the screen, here you will find all fundamental shapes ranging from introductory-level bodies like cones, cubes, and spheres to unique community-generated ones like a Semi Buttress and Twisted Polygon.

All these shapes can be transformed and combined into your desired model.

Enough with the overview; Let’s get modeling now:

  • Step#1: After you have chosen your model, divide it into smaller components. Focus on each element at a time and combine them all together at the end for the final product. This is a well-known technique among beginners, as it makes the whole process a piece of cake.
  • Step#2: Choose a shape from the Shape Panel that best suits the component’s orientation. 
  • Step#3: Adjust the dimensions of your shape using the white square handles. You can also do this by entering the values in the dimension box.
  • Step#4: If eliminating some portion of the basic shape is required to form the final component, select the ‘hole’ option. Using this option, create a figure similar to the portion you want to remove. 
  • Step#5: Adjust this figure with the basic shape using the “Align” tool and subtract the former from the latter using the “Group” tool. What the “Group” tool essentially does is that it fixes two shapes together, but since the other one is a “hole,” it gets subtracted rather than added.
  • Step#6: Repeat steps 2 to 5 for other components. Finally, use the “Group” option to fuse all pieces to obtain the final model. 

Primary Features

TinkerCAD is famously used for 3D modeling and is known for mainly doing this.

However, you can also code on TinkerCAD and build electronics, which opens many more routes for improving a 3D design.

This means you can create circuits to add lighting effects to your models and produce a virtual simulation to check their real-life functionality.

You can modify a 3D Model in a million different ways using the preset shapes and aligning and grouping techniques.

Efficiently manipulating these features can create complex figures, thus beating the notion that TinkerCAD’s usage is only confined to making elementary-level models.

TinkerCAD’s compatibility with 3D Printing can be seen from the fact that you can import any digital model from the internet in the STL, OBJ, or SVG file format.

This feature is primarily unavailable in more cutting-edge software.

You can customize a 3D design and 3D print it by exporting it to a printer in the STL(.stl) format.

As an overview, converting a 3D model into STL file format converts the model into many 2D slices, which are understood and built layer over layer by a 3D printer.

Important Shortcuts

In TinkerCAD, all necessary tools are available around the workplane on the main screen.

However, using some on-screen and keyboard shortcuts, you can work on TinkerCAD more efficiently.

Essential keyboard shortcuts, which you must be aware of, like Ctrl+C (Copy), Ctrl+V (Paste), Ctrl+Z (Undo), etc., are also applicable in TinkerCAD.

They come in handy when you are working with complicated objects.

There are several built-in shortcuts for a productive TinkerCAD session.

The ‘Shift’ key can make your life much easier; you can jump in rotation of 45 degrees (Shift+click during the rotation), or using “shift” in combination with arrows to move the object faster.

Outside the rotation function, pressing “Shift” while moving elements with the mouse, it will move them only on “y” or “x” axes.

Scaling your object in different dimensions and directions can be done using the ‘Alt’ key, but more importantly, you can use ‘Alt + left click’ to duplicate an object.

Lastly, you can press ‘W’ to open a new workplane, ‘L’ for Aligning two models, ‘R’ to place a ruler on the grid, and ‘M’ to flip a model. 

Why is TinkerCAD Recommended To Beginners?

Beginners in the world of 3D can find working with industry-level software like Maya and ZBrush intimidating, and the pricing factor makes them out of reach for many.

For such reasons, TinkerCAD outweighs conventional software and is the go-to choice of students and hobbyists alike.

Easy to Learn

Did you know that you can get on to your browser and create a digital design on TinkerCAD without any experience in the field?

After using it a couple of times, the whole application becomes second nature to you, and you can begin your journey in the world of 3D without having to buy any expensive courses.

If you still struggle with the software, there are official lessons on TinkerCAD’s Learning Center, which teach you all core concepts and techniques from basic to advanced tier.

Furthermore, there are many premade shapes and designs you can use to start designing your first project or new 3D printing idea.

Source: 3DprintingGeeK

User Friendly

TinkerCAD’s user interface is straightforward, without any complexity that can confuse you while creating a digital model.

This aspect of TinkerCAD is the primary reason why the software got rapidly adopted for educational purposes across the globe.

It is effortless to produce an STL file if you choose to 3D print your model.

Available Online

TinkerCAD’s founders envisioned the software to be readily available to the public.

This goal of theirs reached achieved fruition due to the internet being readily accessible.

Now, users can just open the application in their browsers and create fantastic designs without having a top-notch PC.

Only an internet connection is required, and you can create incredible models on your laptop straight from a café. 

It’s Free

The fact that TinkerCAD is 100% free is the deciding factor for many 3D modeling enthusiasts. 

No subscriptions enable them to enjoy their passion to the fullest despite being low on money. 

What makes TinkerCAD incredible is that you can 3D print on a low budget.

The application allows users to simulate their model before printing it, minimizing any possibility of malfunction and loss of money.

Final Thoughts

TinkerCAD allows modelers on a low budget to blow life into their imagination with high-quality tools.

The software’s ability to save designs and models in STL file format makes it highly compatible with 3D printing.

Besides, the software has an interactive interface, making it easy to model and design with ease and no prior experience. These reasons make TinkerCAD the most suitable software for beginners in 3D.

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All our reviews are based on our personal experience and deep research. We are supported by our partners, and we might earn commission from qualified purchases through affiliate links with no additional costs for the buyer. Read more.

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