Tinkercad by Autodesk is perhaps one of the most powerful tools currently available to students, teachers, and parents to learn beginning Computer Aided Design (CAD). Even the smallest amount of CAD skill allows you to create objects in software that can then become real objects courtesy of 3D printing. Tinkercad is the starting point for students taking Introduction to Engineering Design in the Fab Lab at Fulton High School. Tinkercad is also browser-based and free.
But we love it because it is fun!
Autodesk has created a really clever sign-up system that allows parents to authorize accounts for their children under the age of 13 so any student can save the objects they make in an account of their own. I have personally seen children as young as four figure out Tinkercad as they go. But they’re not in the deep end of the pool — Tinkercad has a series of onboarding tutorials, about two dozen (you can exit the tutorials at any time and go back into them later), that will take you through all of its capabilities.
Being browser-based, Tinkercad runs on Chromebooks!
Once you get the hang of it, the sky’s the limit!
Important note: shape colors in Tinkercad are only to facilitate understanding and manipulation and are unrelated to the color of objects printed on 3D printers.