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How To: 3D Design Using TinkerCAD

Last Updated: Mar 30, 2017 03:53PM PDT

How To: 3D Design using Tinkercad

If you’re looking to get into 3d design, TinkerCAD is a great place to start. TinkerCAD is a free, online design tool for beginners. The application is designed to educate users – providing both tutorials and a series of interactive lessons on how to use the tool. Its ease of use makes it a great option for anyone wanting to try their hand at 3d design.

After creating an account on TinkerCAD, you will be prompted to go through a short tutorial. This tutorial will introduce you to using the geometric shapes to create objects. It covers the basic tools for positioning shapes, combining and subtracting shapes to create new shapes, and using the Workplane tool to aid in alignment.

After completing the TinkerCAD tutorial, you’re ready to start making!

Creating and Naming Your Project

Figure1 shows the TinkerCAD dashboard.  You can start a new design by clicking on the blue ‘Create new design’ button. Your past designs will also be shown in the dashboard with the option to edit. Once you start modifying a design, TinkerCAD saves your changes as you go along. If you want to make a backup of a design before editing, click on the gear icon of the design and select “Duplicate”. This will create a copy of the design you can work with.

So much room for activities!
So much room for activities!

When you start a new project, TinkerCAD automatically generates a name for you.  You can change the name from within the editor by clicking on the Design menu.

A project by any other name would smell as sweet.
A project by any other name would smell as sweet.

Getting Your Project into Your New Matter Library

Once you’re satisfied with your design, printing your TinkerCAD designs on your MOD-t is a simple process. All you need to do is download your design as an .STL file, and import it into your New Matter Store Library.

Why STL?: .STL is a standard file format for three-dimensional models that has been around for a long time, and is widely supported by almost all design programs. When a design is saved in this format, the design program translates the design into a surface map, and saves it in either a binary or text format. The New Matter Upload Viewer supports both formats.

Select the ‘Download for 3D Printing’ option on the Design menu to bring up TinkerCAD’s export options (see Figure3). The top left button will immediately download your design in STL format to your Downloads folder. You can then use the ‘Upload’ feature in the New Matter Store to upload your design. The checkbox underneath file type selection gives you the option to download selected parts from your design – especially useful when you have a design that’s made up of multiple parts.

Save As:
Save As:

3Detail: While dimensions are stored in an STL file, units are not. The New Matter Upload Viewer expects measurements to be provided in millimeters, which TinkerCAD does automatically. If you use another design program, be sure that its STL export is set to provide units in millimeters.

With TinkerCAD the process from idea to finished print is streamlined. The principles you learn through using the tool will remain relevant even as you move on to more advanced design programs. The tutorial is only a brief overview of some of the features the platform has to offer. For more in-depth training, you can access interactive lessons under ‘Collections’ in the left-hand side of your dashboard. You can also find the tutorial video and other training resources here.

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