Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tinkercad Alternatives?

Rascal The Dog – Lucie

A question was recently raised about whether there are any alternatives to Tinkercad as a classroom 3D modeling tool. This is a very good question.

The reality is that Tinkercad currently occupies a “footprint” in the market for 3D modeling software that addresses a significant piece of the requirements of makers, teachers and students. If Tinkercad weren’t available, didn’t occupy this footprint, then I’m quite certain that there would be some other product in the market today. Mind you, I don’t believe that Tinkercad’s presence entirely precludes competitive products, but the space that Tinkercad takes up incrementally reduces the size of the opportunity left for others in the market.

In my view, the key traits that make Tinkercad stand out as a uniquely well suited solution for makers and educators are:
  • Shapes add volume, holes subtract volume
  • The ability to group and ungroup shapes, holes and groups
  • An approachable stylesheet with minimal noise (Translated: a good look without too much information that confuses users)
  • A means to programmatically design and configure shapes (Though the current Shape Generator tool is fatally flawed in so many ways.)
The biggest hole in Tinkercad's current feature set is the inability to parametrically define and relate shapes.

I’m always on the lookout for applications to bring into classrooms as full or even partial replacements for Tinkercad. I’ve yet to find a viable alternative. All the other “mainstream” modeling applications are too noisy, don't support "ungrouping" or offer metaphors inappropriate for young students new to 3D modeling.

I’m sure Autodesk doesn’t want to hear this, but I think everyone would benefit from some real competition in these maker and educational markets. — Tinkercad included.


  1. SketchUp is probably the most kid-friendly alternative. Other than that, Autodesk's Fusion 360 is powerful and gets a lot of developer attention over there. Not nearly as intuitive, though.

  2. A friend of mine made a 3D design app for iPad, Morphi ( that also might fit what you're talking about to some degree. Kids seem to enjoy it!

  3. Thoughtful post neobobkrause. Thanks so much Electrodes. As Electrodes mentioned, we are the creators of Morphi, a 3D modeling and printing app for all. In Morphi, people of all ages and skill levels can make printable 3D models on the go using touch, without wifi or a mouse. The app is currently available for free download on iTunes for iPad and iPad mini. Coming soon for Android. Please reach out to us at if you want to discuss how Morphi can be used in the classroom. Many thank and all best! The Inventery

  4. I think there might be some alternatives available soon, VECTARY ( seems to be nice tool based on the video on their website.