Tinkercad is an easy to use, browser-based 3D design tool. Its versatility allows youth, hobbyists, and designers to create a huge variety of projects. But where to start? Program specialists at DHF have a few tried and true project suggestions to get you started with 3D design in Tinkercad.
Customize a Keychain Template
Our introductory Tinkercad project is keychain customization. This project is a great segway from Tinkercad’s Step-By-Step Lessons through “Key Ring, Letters!” After youth complete the tutorial, they can edit our template by clicking on “Duplicate and Tinker.” Youth must stay within the length and width dimensions of the template, but can make the height of their designs up to 7mm. Make sure they remember to group their customizations to the base template!
Design a Model of One of Your City’s Landmarks
For this project, it’s useful to prepare a document of images of landmarks for youth to model or have pictures printed or in book and magazines. Youth should prototype their model in three dimensions using paper or cardboard. Prototyping will help youth get an idea of which shapes they will need to group together to create their model. This activity is very useful for teaching youth how to manipulate the scales of their designs by creating them on a larger scale, grouping, then sizing down. The activity can also be used to help youth practice modular design.
Design an Object That Serves a Practical Use
An object of practical use can be a literal tool (such as a wrench) or an object that is needed around the house, at school, or in transit. Because this project is pretty broad, it can be hard for youth to decide on a specific object to design. It may be useful to spend some time brainstorming as a group or to have youth work in pairs or groups of three. This activity can be used to teach skills in measurement and tolerance.
Design Unique Game Pieces
In our Maker Foundations course, I tell youth that they can design their game pieces for an existing game as long as the design of their pieces is unique. They may also design game pieces for a game of their own creation. One youth created Jumanji game pieces based on the movie and another youth made pieces for his Warhammer game campaign. Youth have tons of very creative ideas and are able to produce great designs when given some basic parameters such as size and number of individual pieces. This activity can be used to teach measurement, additive and subtractive manufacturing. It also gives youth practice with align and duplication tools in Tinkercad.
Create an Action Figure
Youth may create their figure based on a favorite character from a TV show, movie, or video game or can invent their own character. Either way, the should work from a sketch or prototype created by putting together basic shapes. This activity can be used to teach scale, modular assembly and moving parts.