Ponoko announces Tinkercad 3D design app in the Personal Factory App Gateway

plus a chance to win a sample pack of 3D printing materials!

Tinkercad has just released the latest version of their browser based CAD and 3D modeling application, and this version allows users to send their designs to Ponoko’s 3D printing services directly through the app.

Tinkercad’s got a new look, a new logo, and an improved user interface designed to get things done fast and to be quick to learn. With only three basic tools you can create a wide range of useful things. And best of all, you can send your designs to be 3D printed — all within your browser.

“We’re seeing a whole new range of CAD products being developed that make designing in 3D easier than ever,” says Ponoko CEO David ten Have. “Integrating those products directly with fabrication services means it’s also easier than ever to turn those designs into final products.”

Ten Have is very excited to see the addition of Tinkercad to Ponoko’s directory of product creation apps — the Personal Factory App Gateway.


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Design custom gears with Gear Template Generator app

Quickly and easily make templates for custom gear systems.

Woodgears offers a handy app that automatically makes templates for gears that will properly mesh based on the size desired, number of teeth, etc. It is intended for wooden gears, but I suspect it will work for other materials as well. The catch is that the free online app only exports prints, not laser-cuttable files. For those so inclined, there are good instructions for making wooden gears using non-digital fabrication.

They also offer a more sophisticated version for $26 with a lot more features that will export DXF and Sketchup files (PC only).

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OpenVSP: parametric aircraft modelling tool

NASA embraces the open-source philosophy

NASA kicked off this year by greatly expanding their commitment to open source, launching their new site code.nasa.gov:

Ultimately, our goal is to create a highly visible community hub that will imbue open concepts into the formulation stages of new hardware and software projects, and help existing projects transition to open modes of development and operation

Some of the projects they’ve opened up are way over my head, but the one that caught my eye is OpenVSP:

OpenVSP is a parametric aircraft geometry tool. OpenVSP allows the user to create a 3D model of an aircraft defined by common engineering parameters. This model can be processed into formats suitable for engineering analysis.

How cool is that? Maybe you don’t have access to an aerospace facility, but with this tool you can invent your own far-out aircraft designs and print out the models in 3D from your Personal Factory.

[Someone should make an app for that...]

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A 3D printer built with MakerSlide

A simple, stable, and scalable 3D printer proposal.

Barton Dring (bdring) of Buildlog.Net fame recently designed a 3D printer based on the multifunctional MakerSlide beams. MakerSlide, another of bdring’s projects, was designed to provide a standardized linear bearing for CNC digital fabrication equipment. It launched on KickStarter last year with 5x the requested funding.

This new design takes advantage of the simplicity and scalability of MakerSlide. The result is a 3D printer that is easy to fabricate, easy to assemble, easily scalable for a larger build area, and is extremely stable. Oh, and the wires are hidden inside the hollow space in the MakerSlide. Overall, it looks like a promising project.

Bdring is considering offering this as a kit if there is enough interest, so if you’re interested, be sure to tell him. If you want to work on it yourself, the design files are available on Thingiverse.

More images after the jump.

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Ten awesome tools + apps for making stuff

Best of the Blog 2011 – Tools + Apps

2011 was a big year for tools and apps that enable making. As the maker movement grows, people are creating more and more tools to enable creativity and collaboration across a number of disciplines.

3D printing-related tools dominated, including a huge spike in solutions for hobbyist 3D scanning. With the proliferation of low-cost 3D printers, it’s no surprise that people are hungry to replicate physical objects.

Here we take a look at ten great tools and apps from 2011:

1. Autodesk’s digital camera 3D scanner

Originally called Photofly, Autodesk’s 123D Catch is a Windows app that interfaces with the cloud to create 3D models based on a user’s photographs of an object. I had some trouble using my point & shoot camera with an old version of the software, but I’m looking forward to trying to latest version with my iPhone 4S and an Iron Man head that a friend has sculpted.


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Visualizing Gcode in Windows

No more rebooting into OSX!

Screenshot by Thingiverse user aubenc

If you do a lot of hobbyist 3D printing, you’ve probably run into this issue before: a cool new tool for generating 3D models comes out, but it only outputs Gcode and you’ve got no way to see what it looks like before printing. (For example, the Voice Extruder.) (more…)

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FabScan open source 3D scanner

Open source 3D scanner in time to save Christmas…


It’s nearly Christmas, but you suddenly realised you’ve forgotten to make a present for your precious grandmother who you had promised to craft a personal gift for. What do you do?

FabScan may be your only hope, other than blatantly lying to her, that the mass produced gift you bought at the last minute was actually made by you. Fortunately with FabScan and 3D printing you can turn modelling clay sculpts into hard physical models to save your family’s Christmas. (more…)

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Upverter: online hardware design tool

‘Github for electronics’

Upverter is a new cloud-based electronics engineering design platform. It aims to make it easier for open hardware designers to collaborate and share their projects. It includes an HTML5-based schematic editor and crowd-sourced parts library. Integration with Github takes care of versioning, and their open-source schematic conversion tool hopes to standardise interoperability between all common file formats.

It is still in ‘beta’ status, so I will reserve judgement, but this platform looks very promising and could prove to be a real boon to the maker community.

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Kuler: the crowdsourced color theme maker

Take the guesswork out of choosing colors.

Choosing the right colors for your newest project is tricky, especially if you are trying to appeal to potential customers. Some people seem to have a natural ability to combine colors effectively, but most people (including myself) struggle with this. Kuler to the rescue.

Kuler lets people create and vote on color themes, so you know which combinations are popular and which you should avoid. You can even download the themes directly to pretty much any Adobe program.

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Capture 3D surfaces in real-time with 3DSurfScan

3D surface scans on iOS


NeoTrux Systems3DSurfScan for iOS devices uses the camera to capture a surface as a 3D model. It’s a bit of an odd duck, in that it isn’t really meant for the average user messing around with their phone, but the technology is pretty cool.

The app is intended for advanced users, looking to capture complex surface geometry for enhancing existing work. (So you wouldn’t necessarily want to 3D print directly after capture.) For example, a difficult-to-model organic look could be captured from the real world and applied to a simple model.

I tried it out by scanning a thin bit of text that I’d printed earlier on my MakerBot: (more…)

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