123D Design desktop 1.4: 3D file import and 3D printing enhancements


It’s been a while since we released 123D Design version 1.3, at last year’s Maker Faire. A year on, we’re releasing version 1.4 . Don’t be misled by the single digit change – this is a major upgrade with features that will open up many new possibilities for you.

Keep reading to learn more about awesome new features like:

  • 3D mesh file import
  • 2D vector file import
  • Integrated 3D printing support
  • Numerous interface and usability enhancements

Why meshes matter (importing STL and OBJ).

One of the most important new features in 123D Design v1.4 is support for working with mesh files.

Some of you may know that 123D Design desktop is what is a called a solid modeller. The software knows that the things you design have an inside & outside, and keeps track of which parts are are solid. 123D Design has the same software core as AutoCAD, Inventor, Fusion 360, and other Autodesk applications for working with solid models. The advantage of a solid model for our users is that results are always geometrically correct, precise, and it allowed for operations like smoothing edges (fillet), or beveling edges (chamfer), pulling faces, and creating a uniform skin (shell). In addition, when exporting for 3D printing, the resulting files are almost certain to print perfectly.

With support for meshes, we can also start using STL and OBJ files, commonly used formats for sharing and 3D printing models. This matters because many design tools only support and generate meshes, a representation of geometry which only keeps track of the “skin” of an object. Products like 123D Catch, 123D Creature, Maya, 3ds Max, Meshmixer and Tinkercad use meshes as their standard way of representing designs. Even in solid modeling applications, when users choose to share an STL file, the solid geometry gets transformed into a mesh.

Many sites where users share 3D models use STL or OBJ as their standard format. In fact, the 123D Gallery automatically generates an STL file for every model, whether created by Autodesk’s own designers or by users.

Now that 123D Design desktop is able to open meshes, you can now import 3D models from all the sources mentioned above and be able to use them as either a reference or work on them (change scale, subtract parts, combine them). Your designs can now include imported or scanned meshes, as well as solid geometry created in 123D Design.

In the example below, I created these headphones by using a scan of a head as a reference. The head was captured using 123D Catch, and the result was opened in 123D Design with no issues.


In the following example, I imported an OBJ file from 123D Creature and applied a Combine operation with a box, choosing the Intersection mode.  I hollowed the result in order to get a drawer coming out of the monster’s chest (and get my very own Monster Chest of Drawers).


Check out the 123D Gallery, look for some meshes, and think of what you can create!

Support for imported sketches and drawings

123D Design desktop has had the ability to sketch 2D geometry, and use it as a basis for 3D models, since version 1.1. However, it would be great to be able to work with sketches created in tools like Adobe Illustrator, or to reuse the many existing SVG files available that you may have already, for things like logos or decorations. With this new version of 123D Design, you can insert a drawing file in SVG format into 123D Design and choose to import as solid or sketch. With the former, you get an extrusion of your SVG file, and with the latter you get the sketch itself. This means that you can keep sketching on top of it, or use it for other operations like a sweep, a loft or a revolution. Possibilities are endless.


Integrated 3D printing

If you want to print directly on your desktop 3D printer or send through a service, 123D Design has you covered. By using the 3D Print option in the app menu, your model will open in the 3D Print Utility inside Meshmixer, where you can do some analysis on the part, and select from a menu of 3D printers

Meshmixer can analyze your model, and give you useful information about the strength and stability of your model:


 You can also have some fun in Meshmixer, and do something like this:


Making it more beautiful, and new convenience features

There are several other features that make your life easier when using 123D Design. Here are some examples:

  • New color scheme. 123D Design looks better than ever. The new color scheme is brighter and clearer, and helps you show off your models in a more attractive way.
  • Grid snapping increments and units in canvas. You can use specific increments when dragging objects and also when nudging. Very helpful when you are laying out regular features that need to match objects in the real world!
  • New tooltips. We have enhanced the messages that appear when hovering over every icon, making it easier to discover and learn new features.
  • Drop to grid tool. By clicking on F10 on a selected objects or objects, you will be able to move these objects to the ground plane. Very helpful when preparing models for 3D printing!
  • Export to STL enhancement. This release introduces an option for combining all objects in the scene into a single body for STL export. Some applications that drive printers will only read the first body on an STL file and will miss all other parts. You can fix that within 123D Design by accepting to combine all objects.
  • Full compatibility with 123D Design online files. If you’ve been using mesh import features within 123D Design Online, you’ve noticed that you can’t work with those files in Design Desktop.  We’ve fixed that: now everything you do in 123D Design Online is available in 123D Design Desktop.

 We’re very proud of this new release, and all the new creative possibilities that it opens up. If you are looking for a simple but powerful solution for modeling and 3D printing, don’t hesitate to visit www.123dapp.com/design and install 123D Design 1.4




  • Georg

    Why isnt there any tool to import iges files ?
    this would have impact !

  • radwa

    can i import a file from cone beam CT ?

  • orcasislandtv

    how do you import an STL file? the article says, now can import STL files. and doesn’t say how.

    • jamest

      Try the “import stl” button genius

      • orcasislandtv

        no such option, knucklehead! :)

  • Michael

    Import FBX files?!

  • malcolmthemole

    what versions of autocad does 123d work with?