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  • Writer's pictureCharlie Kocur

4 Great (and Simple!) Ways to Use Tinkercad 3D Modeling Tool


Whether you're a design pro or a complete beginner to 3D models, there is something to be said about a simple tool. If you've read my article about turning yourself in to a 3D designer in under an hour, you know that I'm a fan of the easy to use tool called Tinkercad.

For those who are unfamiliar, Tinkercad is a completely free tool that is easy to use, requires no downloads, and makes 3D designing for 3D printing accessible to nearly anyone. It's an excellent tool to have in your arsenal. Tinkercad features simple drag & drop functionality along with the ability to import models from other sources Also, it's available anywhere you have access to a computer since it works in modern web browsers, meaning your projects can follow you wherever you go!

I've used this software for a ton of different projects since I started my 3D printing journey. This article will cover 5 of my favorite regular uses of Tinkercad. Hopefully you can use some of these ideas as-is, or they will at least get your creativity going to come up with your own fun uses!


1. Make a simple edit to customize a print for your own need.

The first handy use for Tinkercad is making some slight customization to existing 3D models that you've gotten from a site like Thingiverse or MyMiniFactory. For this example, I'd like to use this small desktop notebook stand.

This model was built to hold five notebooks, but I only wanted to have it hold three? Well, with Tinkercad it wis extremely easy to use shapes to remove the part you don't need. Simply import the model (download it to your PC from the site you found it on, then re-upload to Tinkercad), select the "box" shape and make it a "hole". Drag it over the portion you would like to remove and then combine the shapes.

Boom! The notebook holder that had five notebooks slots now only has three! This literally took about a minute to do.

Another thing I've used Tinkercad for is to edit an item to make a Christmas ornament. Using this method, you can take almost anything and add a ring to hang string or a hook from and add it to your tree!

Find a model that you like and then found the "torus" shape in the pre-defined options on the right side of the screen.

From there, just align the torus shape where you want the hanging point to be, and line it up to the model. Then, using drag to select, select both the main model and the torus shape and pres the "group" button. Now, the ring has been added to the model, and we can now hang this on our own tree; or give it as a one-of-a-kind custom gift!

As you can imagine, there are a lot of similar use cases where a model just isn't quite right for your need, but using Tinkercad is a quick and easy way to make custom adjustments.


2. Create a planter from nearly anything.

A very simple but fun practical-use project for your 3D printer is creating fashionable planters for around the house. Not only can they spruce up your home office, but they also make great gifts as well. Imagine, instead of finding any old pre-designed planter on the web, why not put your own personal touch on it to design the perfect planter for someone?

This is probably my personal favorite from the list. It's incredibly easy, but offers endless fun and seems to be pretty impressive to folks who aren't as familiar with 3D printing.

The simplest way to make a planter is to make sure you find a model with some volume to it. For example, I downloaded this model because it had some width & depth to the body, so there was good space to carve out a hole. Download the model and upload it to your Tinkercad. once loaded, find a shape that aligns with the style of planter you want to make. For this one, I simply chose a column.

Add the shape to the workspace and make it a hole, then align it with where you want to make a cutout for the plant to go. Combine the shapes and ta-da! A completely custom planter!

This same method works well for creating custom drink holders as well. Simply make the cylinder the size of the can or bottle you'd like to create it for and you're all set!


3. Make hilarious combinations & custom toys.

Here's a model I created using two others found online. It took me just a few minutes to create this using Tinkercad once I knew what I wanted. I think the result turned out great!

Look out, it's Darth Dino!

These simple combinations make great gifts with a unique touch. Do you know someone who loves octopuses and bears? Well, stick them together in what I can only imagine to be the most terrifying creature ever created! Using this method is a great way to make something custom without having to spend hundreds of hours sculpting and modeling.

To do this, simply find the models you would like to combine, and import them to Tinkercad. Find a good point to attach them (usually a neck is a good spot!), and use the method described in section one to cut the models down in to the necessary part. Then, drag and rotate to align them in place and press the "combine" button. Now you've got your own original model to print.


4 . Familiarize yourself with 3D modeling.

If nothing else, Tinkercad is a fantastic introduction to the concepts of 3D modeling. It's a very simple tool, but spending time working in it gives you some strong basic skills to transition over to a more advanced tool like Fusoin360.

Tinkercad uses fairly standard mouse controls to zoom, rotate, and move the 3D workspace. Moving around in this 3D space and getting comfortable viewing a model from all angles generally just comes with time and experience in the software.

Using pre-defined shapes and simple drag & drop controls means that a user can worry less about trying to create everything from scratch, and can focus on getting the task at hand completed. It can also force you to get creative about your solutions by making the limited tool set work for your needs.

Even with the built-in ease of use, it's still possible to create a lot of impressive things using Tinkercad alone if someone is willing to put in the time and effort.

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