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Testing TinkerCAD Beta

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3D printing is known for producing unique and custom items. I have found that 3Ddesigning in TinkerCAD can be used to replace esoteric and out of production items.

Cable tension gauges needed a custom holder that was durable.

My father brought home a case with two cable tension gauges in it. The custom foam that held them in place had long ago wore away, and he wanted a holder that was more durable than foam. I was tasked with producing a holder that would last. I also wanted to test the new Beta version of TinkerCAD by AutoDesk.

We decided that NinjaTech SemiFlex would be the best material for this. SemiFlex would pad the gauges and retain their shape in the case. In looking at the application, Kanesis Hemp Bio Plastic PLA would work as a good packing material as well.

When I get design jobs, the first thing I do is lay the object out on paper and just sketch out what I want.

The positive shape for the tool gauge, which is used to produce the negative shape for the holder

This helps plan out your commands in CAD, and gives you an idea of what geometries and shortcuts you can take.

For this gauge I plan to start with a block 100 mm wide x 220 mm long x 40 mm tall, and use TinkerCAD Beta to draw the whole project.

TinkerCAD Beta condensed some of the controls from the old version, which makes finding the basic shapes you need cleaner in the UI. The tools used are still the same with align, group and un group commands used to play with the geometry.

Creating the tool holder in TinkerCAD was easier than the earlier version, given that I was not worried about the exact geometry.

Overview of TinkerCAD Beta with another project

Building the holder required a few steps, which is typical of all CAD programs. The hardest part was building a positive form of the tool in the work space, which I would need in order to produce the negative space in the holder itself.

Building the positive form, which was asymmetric, which is tricky to draw in both versions of TinkerCAD

It is tricky in TinkerCAD to get asymmetric shapes to align the way you want, which is an issues with the original and Beta version.

I learned from my spool of thrones project that cutting out holes where possible will drastically cut print time and material.

Beta has moved many of the controls from the menu in the old version over to a few buttons, and beta is missing the export to 3D printing services that the legacy version has.

TinkerCAD beta does have a cleaner interface and controls from the current version, and with more practice can be as intuitive as the old version. I did find that some of the shapes were more hidden in the menu as a result of streamline the UI. I don’t know if the lack of ability to share to printing services is left out on purpose or not.

Fleshing out the negative version for the holder. I added more holes and cut out a lot of blocks latter to cut down on material.

Most disappointing was the lack of a camera zoom command in Beta. The old version had a zoom command that let you zoom in on fine details, which you need. Beta needs to return that feature immediately to improve user experience.

Building 3D in TinkerCAD is great for quick prototyping and for applications where accuracy is not a huge concern. I’ve used it multiple time to edit and repair other files and this was a fun exercise to get it to fit a custom object.

The final product, two tool holders that fit inside the case. The one on the right was a rougher design, the left one was cleaned up in TinkerCAD

Over all the Beta version of TinkerCAD has a streamlined UI that is more appealing, but AutoDesk sacrificed some functionality in doing so. The lack of camera zoom and exporting to a 3D printing service are the two most glaring issues with Beta.

UPDATE: 12/19/16: I was using Firefox to run TinkerCAD, but I found out from other users that the Zoom camera function does work sporadically in Chrome. When I have shown this to students on Chrome books, the zoom is jerky at times.

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  1. Casey says

    I like the TinkerCad interface but I don’t like the sharing my designs until I think they are ready. They don’t offer enough private storage space in the free accounts and their pricing is quite outrageous for what you get. Parametric modeling is great but at least let me have some decent storage space for $100.00/month.


    1. 3D-PT says

      You don’t have to share your designs publicly in tinkerCad. You have to opt in for each design.

  2. Chemy says

    I have to be honest, I never heard about that TinkerCad software, but I see how useful it could be!

    Thanks for sharing the experience, great job btw.

  3. mperkins37 says

    Thanks, would be a useful tool for sure

  4. [email protected] says

    I think that is so cool. Thanks for sharing this information.

    1. 3D-PT says

      You’re welcome!

  5. mperkins37 says

    What does tinkercad cost?

    1. 3D-PT says

      Its Free! Just need an email.

  6. Andrew says

    i have been using 123D for my 3D modeling? Is there some reason that I should try TinkerCAD? I think that 123D is for more complex models while TinkerCAD is for simpler models (assuming that the user is a novice).

    1. mperkins37 says

      Is is mac & PC?

    2. 3D-PT says

      Your correct, TinkerCAD is more basic and simpler gemoetry. Its good for novices and when you just want to crank something quick out.

  7. Noa says

    That’s awesome!

  8. mperkins37 says

    Must be just pc.

    1. Andrew says

      I think it is online, I dont think you have to download anything. You just have to create an AutoDesk login.

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