The idea of 3D printing objects has prompted a lot of utopian daydreaming, but it’s also led a host of eager novices to realize they’re actually lousy 3D designers. Tinkercad is a web-based 3D design tool built to make designing objects a simple and communal activity.
Speaking in an interview with Wired, Tinkercad founder Kai Backman recalls the beginnings of the site.
In 2009, I started researching the new emerging 3-D printing technology and eventually bought my first printer by the end of the year. The device was assembled with great fanfare and my children eagerly looked forward to printed toys while my wife expected jewelry or at least some useful household items. Much to their disappointment it turned out that actually designing anything for printing was extremely hard with the software available. I would spend the evening learning one CAD system after another, only to get very little traction and forgetting most of what I learned before the next session.
In mid-2010 it had become clear the problem was more and more acute for a lot of people, so I quit my job at Google, Mikko my co-founder quit his job, and we started the company. We are still on the same road, our vision is to make 3-D design in general, and the design of physical items in particular, accessible to hundreds of millions of people.
One of the key features of the site is the ability for people to share their designs with other users, always accompanied by step-by-step records of how the object was made. The objects are as varied as a backyard patio to a sci-fi spaceship. Every object has a “Copy & Tinker” feature which lets you open someone else’s design and try and personalize it to your own standards.