I received my first pocket knife from my dads’ nervous hands when I was eight years-old. As he handed it to me he said, “make something good with it.”

In the next few days I exhausted the destructive capability of my shiny new knife by… cutting a million holes in things, whittling anything that didn’t move, and carving-up a digit or two.

With that out of my system, it was time to ‘make’ something… but what?

Strange the things that pop into your mind late at night when your working on curriculum; Introduction to Information, Science, and Technology. Software for creating 3D models was the last piece in the modelling / manufacturing unit… Tinkercad?

Was it the right tool for this job… could students make something good with it? Nine months, several thousand design hours, a dozen (substantial) models, and a ton of research in the API says, “YES!”

Here are some goodies I found along the way.

tinkercad_helpersMeasure twice, cut once… helpers (workplanes and rulers) are fantastic for keeping the guts and bones of a model properly aligned. Precision gets a little squirrelly with grid settings (lower right) smaller than 1mm. 

Humans make mistakes… being off a little here and there isn’t uncommon. If you need superhuman precision, you may want to take a look at OpenSCAD. Else, Tinkercad works a treat!

tinkercad_importDoes a toolbox with only simple geometric shapes give you a sad? If you said yes, it’s time to introduce you to SVG import and Shape Generators.

Create 2D shapes in Illustrator or Inkscape, import, and extruuuuuuude. 

tinkercad_shapezTime to kill it with a little math. Yes, I said math (and a little code). 

// Platonic Solid Generator – CLICK ME!
return Solid.make(mesh);

tinkercad_extrusionBob Krause throws-down a “MetaFilet” to show us all how to make fillets and champers from scratch.

All the polys are belong to JWSadler and his “Hi-res Tube” and “SoftBox.”

Respect to David Reeves and your wicked-sick “Extrusion More Handles.”

Community goes a long way… a very long way.

tinkercad_hastagsLudicrous is a word that comes to mind when I think about the quantity of data generated every minute on the Internet; it’s tricky keeping audiences connected with relevant / quality content.

Metadata can help… it’s often used to make ‘things’ self descriptive. Like this filament stand I made for my #Lulzbot #TAZ #3DPrinter.


tinkercad_photosA picture adds an immeasurable dimension to a design…  one click, “set as default,” is all it takes. 

tinkercad_downloadzThe process of exporting items for 3D printing was painful… sitting for an hour in the dentist’s chair was more appealing – no joke.

Thank you, mysterious dev-person(s) who coded the “download selected items” feature. I love you.

Bottom line… Tinkercad is an affordable (free) high-quality 3D modelling tool that helps users churn dreams into reality. It’s not good, it’s great!