3D Printing & Imaging CAD Craft & Design
Tinkercad to Close Shop
Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 5.36.06 PM
Source: CNET

Tinkercad, an extremely popular web-based 3D modeling tool, announced it will discontinue development and shut down. The company will shift its energies into a new 3D modeling environment and hardware service called Airstone. While Tinkercad catered to, well tinkerers, Airstone is targeted to the professional engineer. Read all about the company’s decision here.

Part’s of Tinkercad’s appeal was its ease of use for CAD and 3D modeling newbies. It included a direct line to 3D printing services, making the path to creating 3D objects easy for the casual designer. So why pull the plug?

Kai Backman.

Kai Backman, company founder and CEO, said they couldn’t continue to develop and maintain both platforms and had to choose.

“We eventually figured out we had to let one of those go,” he said.

While both Tinkercad and Airstone will have a similar interface, Kai said Airstone is for “a very different audience.” Namely, professional engineers and architects who need super computer muscle to create and render 3D objects in near-real time speed.

On Tinkercad’s blog some users who lamented the service’s impending disappearance suggested open sourcing the software and turning it over to the community. No can do, said Kai. The core system is a key component of Airstone and it can’t be opened up, he said.

“It would basically be giving the whole business away,” he said.

With new investment in Airstone that’s not something the company is about to do.

But Kai expressed his gratitude to the Tinkercad community, adding that he was “humbled” by the volume of stuff he’s seen created on TinkerCAD.

“This was a really hard decision,” he said. “Most of us are makers and it really was a labor of love.”

Kai declined to recommend another maker-friendly CAD tool. We’ll offer some suggestions in a post tomorrow.


Stett Holbrook is editor of the Bohemian, an alternative weekly in Santa Rosa, California. He is a former senior editor at Maker Media.

He is also the co-creator of Food Forward, a documentary TV series for PBS about the innovators and pioneers changing our food system.

View more articles by Stett Holbrook