Making Made Easier with 123D Apps


I am lucky in that in our unit, we have our very own maker space, complete with a 3D printer, laser cutter, and a variety of Arduino chips (as well as K’nex and other physical making materials). We’re also really lucky to have our colleague Derek Eggers in charge of the space, along with working on maker pedagogy more broadly. He and I are collaborating to find ways to make making more accessible for so called non-traditional disciplines, such as the humanities.

One way we are developing is creating a flexible maker workshop to get faculty engaging with the tools, techniques, and approaches these technologies present. Derek is more used to working with faculty who have more experience with design software, such as architecture, engineering, and design. We were looking for software that didn’t have a steep learning curve, that was low cost, and accessible as possible. This was also in the hopes that the faculty didn’t feel intimidated integrating the approaches in their own classroom.

Derek introduced me to the Autodesk 123D set of apps. They can turn your phone into a rudimentary 3D scanner, help create 3D object, and even design circuits. They are cloud-based, and allow you to save your work,  as well as make your work available to the larger community to use and manipulate. Therefore, there is also a large library of already existing objects to get your started.

I started playing with Tinkercad, designed specifically for beginners (ok, kids, but if you’re starting from zero like I was, it helped a lot), and it was easy to use and easy to understand. I was able to quickly design a 3D object, and when I came up against the limitations of the app, it meant I was ready to move on to the more complex 123D Design.

While the software is free, it does require you to create an account

Do you have any experience with the 123D suite of apps? Do you have any favorite tools for 3D design for beginners?

[Image: 3D Printed 3D Printer Part (close-up), a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from dvanzuijlekom]

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