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Tinkercad – A cool and powerful easy-to-use 3D modeling tool I fell in love with


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Lately, I've been trying some new 3d software to build 3D models for my digital and board games. For a long time, I was a user of Rhinoceros,  a very professional modeling software, with which I created a lot of models for 3d printing. With Magica Voxel, for instance, I have also created a series of other models. I recently came across the Autodesk online site, which is been giving me new wings. You can use it to design electronic circuits (including Arduino) and 3D objects for printing. The main idea is that children from early ages can use it to design robots, 3D solutions to everyday problems, etc..

I'm talking about Tinkercad, a cool and powerful solution for this type of easy-to-use modeling tool. I fell in love with it immediately as it spoke directly to the teacher in me. Since then, I've been using it for several programming and 3D modeling projects. I saw in it a HUGE potential for making game models/miniatures. The ability to model quickly, easily and modularly, makes it a nice option whenever productivity is concerned. In this article, I'll show you a bit about it and how I got very great results with experiences with it so far.

Don't worry, this is not a sponsored post. I'm a legitimate Tinkercad fan.

The Tool

At first glance, Tinkercad looks like the perfect fit for your classroom projects. With a module for electronic circuits and 3D modeling, it offers diverse solutions. You can design stuff and store everything in Autodesk's cloud. To access the service is simple: create an account at Autodesk and start working.

Some personal/professional  projects in Tinkercad
Some personal/professional  projects in Tinkercad

The site is very intuitive and allows you to quickly prototype and prepare for 3D printing. The interface is very simple to work with and, by default, the desktop is already scaled to the main "3D Home Printers" in the market.

The interface is much simpler than you expect from the usual 3D software since Tinkercad works with basic 3D forms and some special ones.

Some 3D shapes in Tinkercad
Some 3D shapes in Tinkercad

The operation is very easy (drag and drop) and intuitive, since its mainly tailored for and to be used in the classroom, for the creation of several 3d models that can be integrated with electronic models (focusing on Arduino). Think of Robots and drones.

The whole operation is done through your mouse and some keyboard shortcuts, but even from within a browser, the 3D module of Tinkercad runs smoothly and to this moment, never crashed during work sessions. It is very simple to make complex operations of Boolean shapes and to create new shapes with existing ones. The result is exceptional and you can quickly prototype ideas.

In short, this software allows for a very fast learning curve, making you achieve more than satisfactory results.

Exporting/Importing

The export/import feature of Tinkercad is one of its most powerful features. It's possible to download the models in STL, OBJ and SVG formats (including for laser cutting) keeping the precision on the scale and making the printing of objects close to perfection.

Export to STL, OBJ and SVG in Tinkercad
Export to STL, OBJ and SVG in Tinkercad

Also, the export allows you to prepare for some printing services and websites like Thingverse.

Import is also perfect, but there are some limitations with respect to scale and number of vertices. I made some imports of 3D models. It worked well in Blender and, to my surprise, they were inserted without any issues to the 3D module in Tinkercad.

Lowpoly and Highpoly models imported from Blender into Tinkercad
Lowpoly and Highpoly models imported from Blender into Tinkercad

The printing results could not be any better! I am currently working on the design of a miniature wargame called Steampork. All miniatures are being prototyped in the 3D module of Tinkercad and the results are meeting all my expectations. I'm working with a Prusa I3 printer and since the prototyping process to 3D printing, I've gotten outstanding results.

Prototyping in Tinkercad
Prototyping in Tinkercad

Slicing in Repetier Host in Tinkercad
Slicing in Repetier Host in Tinkercad

Final result printed after designed in Tinkercad
Final result printed after designed in Tinkercad

Final Words

The results I've gotten with this free Autodesk tool have given me the power to make things much faster as I design and print miniatures. If you want to start working with 3D printing in an uncomplicated way, I highly recommend Tinkercad. It's a very fast and powerful way for not only the hobbyist but also the educator. The educational part of the site is great, with projects, tutorials, webinarsrs, that allow you to carry out a very complete school work. I recommend this tool to everyone and I guarantee you it will broaden your horizons. Making miniatures with 3D technology is a reality and this tool is certainly a quick and cheap solution.

 

 

 

 

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Tags
education gamedev indiedev #gaming gamer #3d #modeling Tinkercad miniature action figure educator classroom kids children Autodesk

Manoel Garcia

Portuguese Voxel artist, game designer, and toy maker. Living in 80's all the time...

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