The platform is entirely browser based (so there’s no
software to install), which allows for your work to be
instantly saved to the cloud and available on any other
computer. Tinkercad runs best in modern browsers
such as Firefox, Safari, or Chrome. Keep in mind that
slow Internet speeds can negatively affect the overall
One great thing is that Tinkercad is aimed at children
and new-to-design students in general. Tinkercad is
COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, US
law) compliant, meaning that there are a couple of
extra steps when setting up a child’s account on Tin-
kercad, but that child’s information will be kept safe
and treated appropriately by Autodesk. Figure 10-1
on the previous page shows an example of what stu-
dents can create.
SETTING UP AN ACCOUNT
In order to access Tinkercad you will need to have an Autodesk account. The good news is that this program
is free and the promotional emails you might receive from Autodesk are minimal.
If a child under 13 years of age is signing up to use Tinkercad, their user ID request will get routed into a
COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) compliant subsystem inside of Autodesk that requires an
adult to verify that the child is allowed to create an account (Figure 10-2).
The child’s account will be in a special part of the Autodesk infrastructure where it will comply with the
COPPA requirements. There will be restrictions on sending marketing emails as well as restrictions on
sharing that child’s account information with third parties. This is a good thing for the protection of children,
but keep in mind this extra step can add up to 24 hours of waiting time for kids to join the Tinkercad com-
munity. This is especially important to remember if you are using Tinkercad in an educational setting where
parents will need to pre-register their kids on the platform.
BEFORE YOU PICK UP THE MOUSE
We recommend you first use pencil and paper to draw your idea out. The basic premise for all CAD design
is understanding that shapes interact with other shapes to create new shapes. This concept sounds easy
enough, but if you are just starting to learn CAD, the best place to start is having a solid understanding of
what you are trying to create. For most people, drawing it out on paper is more intuitive. Don’t worry if it’s
not to scale or if your drawing of a house looks more like a shoebox. You will benefit greatly by having this
visual guide as a reference.
FIGURE 102: Tinkercad account sign-up requiring parental
permission for users under 13 years of age
In the next three chapters we will take you step-by-step through the basics of creating a 3D model from
scratch using three CAD modeling software programs: Tinkercad, Meshmixer, and Fusion 360. You can
view them respectively as beginning, intermediate, and advanced programs, though we have taught stu-
dents as young as nine years old to use Fusion 360.
These CAD programs have the benefit of being free (or near free), so trying them out is a great way to start.
These beginning tutorials are short enough that you should be able to complete each one in an hour, but feel
free to move through them at your own pace.
Tinkercad is an online CAD modeling platform from
Autodesk that is free for anyone to use. It’s known
as a quick and easy way to create 3D models and
is simple enough for beginners and kids to pick up
easily. In fact, in our educational courses, we always
start beginning students, regardless of age, on Tin-
kercad. See Figure 10-1 for an example of the type
of simplistic model you can create in Tinkercad.
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