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If you want to introduce a kid (or yourself!) to CAD (computer aided design), +Tinkercad is by far the easiest and most fun way to begin. Today I mentioned to my 10-year-old that our CNC machine would soon be up and running. He asked what a CNC could do, and I said one example would be to carve a battlefield out of stiff foam for Warhammer figures.

That got his attention ;-) He wanted to know how to tell the CNC what to do. I explained a bit about CAD, and showed him Tinkercad, giving the example of one cube that you could stretch and change.

Then I got busy with something else and left him to figure out Tinkercad himself. I came back an hour later and the below is what he'd designed.  A ten-year-old. No training. One hour.

The green stuff we're going to CNC out of a sheet of stiff foam. The rest we'll probably 3D print on the Makerbot. It will take a weekend, but this could be our first 100% digital craft project.

This is an example of what I talk about in Makers: manufacturing technologies are getting so easy and cheap (even free) that anyone can use them. Kids today can grow up as fluent in CAD as they are in everything else on computers. Democratizing the tools of publishing brought us the Web. Just imagine what democratizing the tools of manufacturing will do.  

We've used Sketchup and Autodesk 123D, and both are great. But Tinkercad just runs in your Web browser and its simple interface disguises a very sophisticated cloud-based CAD engine. 

Check it out here: tinkercad.com
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152 comments
 
Terrific review! Thanks for this share.
 
Crossposted to FB with attrib. Don't hurt me, please; I don't make a habit of this but the story felt very compelling. Will delete if asked. Thanks.
 
+Tinkercad -- my 10-year-old spent some time playing with tinkercad at the last Maker Faire -- he loved it also.  Didn't get as far as yours, though.  (Yet.)
 
wow. I just hope he won't loose interest in this. There are some great carriers out there that sadly wasn't available to me when I started playing with 3d modelling some 16 years ago.
 
Miniatures, CNC, and Makerbot? Can't +1 enough...
 
Awesome, thanks for sharing this. I started using cad software around 10 and still use it today in its various forms for prototyping. Excited for my daughter to have much much better tools to work with. Plus owning a Replicator 2 and having the tech shop close by helps too.
 
Never thought about 3-D printing for something like this.  Would be great for table top gaming. 
 
yup love it - the imagination of kids should always be encouraged :-)
But the potential for these kind of simple and rapid visualisations allows for better engineering and design... we do this it the software development world - amazing new toys... .sorry tools - so many applications
 
Looks like fun. Design some new honey-munching kit - or casterboards[
 
CAD is a computer engineering graphic tool, right? what is CNC? 
 
This is awesome. My 8 year old has had a knack for engineering and architecture he is a matter Lego builder and I had been waiting to introduce him to CAD
 
computer numerical control (CNC)
 
This could be a great simple game - Like Minecraft but with Robin Hood figure. 
 
Hm - looks impressive. But I don't like the subscription-only based price model. It seems to me that for using it more seriously you need the paid subscription for 20$/month - thats like 500$ for two years... That's a good pile of money. But maybe the free version will do it as well.
 
interesting!
you think I can get it?
 
Wow, I haven't touched CAD/CAM since high school. This program looks cool. 
 
The ShetchUp two flavors, one FREE and the other PRO ( US$ 500 more or less), but their differences not big, only if you want dynamically features and other serious stuff you will want the PRO version, Have large collections of YouTube tutorial videos, free and pay Ruby plugins for enhanced & automatically featuresyou can find in the web, a lot of SketchUp school, forums and communities etc
 
Another way to let our young ones create. Good stuff!
 
It would be great if there is an easier version of ArcGIS or Adrissi.
 
Neat!  It took 10 min. to get my son started on Scratch programming (Logo/Turtle Graphics -like on the +Raspberry Pi ), and 10 min. more to do event-driven programming (game-like).  I've been looking for a (free) simple CAD, so I'll try this out.  Thanks.
 
Great software package, CNC computer numerical control Great a introduction to CAD 
 
you idea is very strong

 
Hideously expensive. That monthly payment is going to rack up a huge bill. Any chance of releasing it as downloadable, fixed fee software aimed at kids?
 
Awesome! Congratulations as a dad and for your boy too. You got to be proud and amazed. 
 
That's so cool! As a warhammer player myself, I might have to look into this...
 
Thanks for the share: It looks very promising, and especially with the 3D-printers moving closer and closer to the reaches of 'normal' people
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I think it's going to be a race between for example SketchUp and something like this, that is going to get the attention of the masses..
I will try it out later, to see how it's performing - both compared to Revit Architecture and SketchUp.
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+1000 from a machinist. Good to see something non political in whats hot for a change. 
 
Brilliant idea for motivating kids (and some adults too I imagine!)
 
Very creative kid you have there.
 
This looks lovely. I imagine in some months to years we'll have little cloud/tablet/speech-input-programmable robot toys running on this battle ground, perhaps with explosion fx, battle statistics, and behavior projection paths via some Google Glasses augmented reality overlay.
 
Whatever happened to junk modelling ? 
 
Cool, but  where is the GNU version ? .. And isn't this software-as-a-service and therefore Defective by Design ?
 
Awesome Post, thanks for sharing.
Su fee
 
So lovely! Thanks sharing!
 
+Lenny Metzger HeeksCAD and FreeCAD are free programs that do pretty much the same thing. HeeksCAD was an awesome project but it's not really maintained anymore.
 
Thanks for sharing this. I'm going to see if I can get my son into it. He loves playing around with his +LEGO so I hope this will help him build things (or at least think of them)
 
Wow that is sooooo sick!!!
I want to make one of those!!!
 
I used to take CaD, Now I am into welding
 
Are you using a 5 axis CNC Machine or 3?
 
I would have loved this for my Warhammer boards.
 
I'd kinda like to un-acquaint myself with cad haha
 
Kids nowadays wow! My wife took cad about 10 years ago but wound up pregnant before she finished top of her class. 2 years ago she started sending out resumes and found out cad had advanced so far she would've had to go back to college to learn the updated version before anyone would hire her. Tell your son to stick with it ( all the updates) he will have a awesome job waiting for him when he's ready !
 
My son 7 loves Minecraft and is constantly building new stuff, I'll try him on this TinkerCad see what he thinks. 
 
Nice! Google Sketchup is just as fun and easy to use.
 
Wait - noone has asked the most important question: WarHammer - Fantasy or 40k? (from the layout, I'd guess Fantasy - but some 40k battles are pretty old-school too :)  )

_... either way, ahh - the memories ... _
 
He did a great job. 
 
Or u can use Minecraft..
Its easy and fun. Plus it has multiplayer...
What more could u ask!
 
Epic cool, Good on you in introducing your kid to this and especially to Warhammer!
 
Okay silly question...Will this do a 3d rendering of a knitting pattern..
Looking for some kind of software that will allow me to make knitting patterns from Ideas that I get...(
 
I used to teach computer classes, and I once taught a kid to make a webpage, make a music video with editing, and use all of Microsoft Office up until we got to Word. I asked him to hit "File, Save" and he asked me "Which one is 'File' again?"...it was at that point I realized he didn't yet know how to read! I went to the administrator and asked his age, it turns out he was just 5 years old. I've never been more astounded by the learning potential kids demonstrate when they're interested in something.
 
Incredible how misogyny crosses all strata insofar as, "I showed MY SON!!" "Smart lad(wtf, further proof regardless of what side of the aisle many are claiming they're on, falsehoods. "
As the first woman hired by Honeywell EET, before that division went down, in 1979 in the Nation, myself and 2 more women were IE, in the USAF in'75, 'girls' not permitted to take shop, civil engr.'ing & drafting et al yet forced to take home ec& typing, took'F's' in typing forced both schools to admit me as 1st woman in drafting and civil engr.'ing.
Why? I had thought that carving a path for my daughters and other girls becoming women would allow them to realize of course they aren't less than in the Sciences And Math, albeit we were told consistently oh hell yeah we were ergo I made sure that although the 36 year old has two degrees and is finishing the production of her 2nd film, she is a black sash in Kung Fu as well. The 23 year old with but one degree, is a dual citizen and Professional Ice Hockey player in Turkiye', and a black sash.
If by demeaning women throughout history allowing them to. believe you as men indeed those men, so white, so racist, those whom posess tunnel vision believing it lies in their knowledge of a womans vagina and our horror after rape, these members of the Grand Obstructionist Party, so far right it causes our eyes to cross and any woman who votes Repub deserves to remain the dolt she acts, and the plethora of men posting about their sons & CAD, yet parrot MY Democratic Party and knowledge of equality for all sans the stupidity of the hate the far right fools spew without reason. Barack will be our President again tomorrow night and due to those who say he wasn't what he said never mind he's our first African American prez forced to walk the tightropes of damned if and damned if not can keep teaching sons only any mechanical trade, it "Won't Make No Nevermind" because your daughters will hold surprise for you the type you hadn't take credit for, gentlem, cough sputterrrr, ennnnnnnn
 
It looks great, but I hate this kind of pricing model. I don't rent things. I own them.
Plus the pricing model doesn't make sense. Anyone serious enough about design to pay $20 a month is serious enough to buy, own, and learn software. 
 
How did you make it like that
 
christopher gaul  hes pretty mean i woned  take hes evice
 
hoo are you going to vote for
 
Very cool..who Doesn't Like War hammer? =]
 
z lyk pple wo u usd 2 lve wdh n da past wn kan evn chng wn dhy ar financly stambe dhan u bt n past u usd wt wz avaible.plz u beter kno dat money z jst flowez 2 dhz world n da way dhy startd kamng dhy kan evn flo 2 odha direction.wt u did odhaz kan evn 2.plz ata ukipata do kua mpole usisahau wzae wa base wnye mlisubuka pamoja.u wana ill uself f u hv dhz dsence ok.
Sam Bao
 
3d modeling and printing are little more complex,but the end result would look a lot moar polished than what a cnc machine would produce
 
A ten year old that plays Warhammer isn't exactly your run-of-the-mill ten year old.
Bryan H
 
pretty fuggin rad. Go Dad. Get the boy a 3d printer!
 
Cool it works in "Mozille" Firefox....! 
 
Roblox is better. It's like this crossed with computer science, which is a very good field of science today.
 
I fail to c how this is wow...I could show a cat to use it...
 
Awesome. I build 5 axis cnc machines so I appreciate how cool this is :-) 
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