First day at the London 3D Print Show & 123D Creature wins Award!

Autodesk and Cosmo Wenman at the London 3D Print Show

The London 3D Print Show kicked off today with a great crowd and some wonderful exhibitors!  We were proud to show off Cosmo Wenmans work using 123D Catch, it generated a lot of excitement and we're looking forward to the next couple of days.

After a long, busy one at the show today, we attended their first annual 3D Print Awards and were so excited to hear 123D Creature named as the Best Online/App-Based Service!  It was an honor to accept on behalf of the 123D Creature team and it only proves how awesome our users are that are making such great models using their iPads.  

Stay tuned as we post more pictures!


Tokyo Maker Faire

Maker Faires are in full swing around the world, and Autodesk 123D got in on the action this weekend in Tokyo, Japan, a city renowned for its history of innovation. 

Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk, even got in the action, delivering a presentation on "the appearance of new manufacturing in North America."


The 123D team hosted an area equipped with MakerBots, iPads with all the 123D tools installed, interlock assemblies, LED badges, duct tape bags, a black rocket shelf, and even a 3D photo booth. 


 It's so rewarding to see firsthand how people incorporate the 123D tools into their personal creative expression. Thank you to the thousands of smiling people of all ages that came to visit and create with us! We can't wait to do it again next year, Tokyo Maker Faire!




We've officially launched a contest on Instructables called Make it Real-ly Scary with 123D

The contest runs through the end of October and is open call for people to use any of the 123D apps as a component to their Halloween project.  It can be as simple as remixing another user's model or as time-consuming as laser-cutting a giant Cthulhu that terrorizes the kitchen at the Autodesk offices.  

We have some pretty great prizes too! Our friends at Zebra Imaging and iMaterialise are the Prize Providers for the contest and have forked over some pretty righteous goods.  Grand prize is a HUGE hologram (24"x34") from Zebra Imaging, $100 print credit with iMaterialise, and a 2-year Premium membership to 123D!  Zebra hasn't offered this size hologram directly to our users before, so we're excited to see one.

Good luck!

Bring 3D Printing With You To College

We imagine our college-aged audience has spent the past few days and weeks getting settled into the joys of sharing a dorm room with strangers while navigating what it's like to live away from home. With all the details that come inherent to making that transition, it’s understandable when you leave something at home or think of something you need when it’s too late to get it.  

For example, perhaps you get to your dorm and realize your parents have supplied you with roughly one metric ton of pens and pencils, but nowhere to put them. They have already driven back home with their credit cards, leaving you to your own devices, but fortunately 123D and 3D Printing are there to fill in the gaps.

For example, instead of quietly stealing a pencil holder from your roommate, use 123D Catch to capture his/hers and print it, or select from the multitude of options developed by your fellow 123D’ers, like the cannon pencil holder picture here:


Courtesy of xyzebra 

If you’re a person who goes through lots of drafts, nothing is more satisfying than tossing out failed ideas. Spice up that process by using 123D Design to create, and then 3D print your own basketball hoop for the trash can, gamifying your editorial process.


Courtesy of Kazga_Fitteyai 

 Playing with a Frisbee (or novelty flying disc) is one of the stereotypical college activities that must be undertaken. Customize your own plastic disc in 123D Design and everyone will want to hang out with you.


Courtesy of CocaKoala 

One of the hardest parts of college is surviving homesickness, so we recommend you use 123D Sculpt to design and print your dog (or other pet). Having a small version of Fido with you in college is a great way to keep your home close to your heart, and realistically is probably about as far as one should go with pet ownership when it comes to dorm life anyway.


 Courtesy of Chuck Whitehead

So when you’re low on funds, which after all is the identifying characteristic of college students worldwide, consult Autodesk 123D to find and create quick solutions to life’s little problems. Whether it’s an issue of function, entertainment, or making friends, 123D is here to help.  Find your school's 3D printer and start filling your dorm room with the coolest stuff you can think of!


3D Printing Dinosaurs: The Future of the Past

Every so often we encounter people who end up stunning us with their ingenuity in the use of Autodesk’s 123D products. Check out the video above, and you'll know right away what we're talking about. As you can imagine, once we saw what Barry Joseph was doing with 3D-technology at the American Museum of Natural History, we knew we had to go to the source to find out more.

Fortunately for everyone, Barry was willing to share his time with us so that we could dive deeper into the cool projects he’s been working on. If you think about it, Barry is the reason why we do what we do: his creativity and desire to bequeath his knowledge onto the next generation inspires us to continue making the highest-quality, most accessible tools for him and those he teaches.

You may remember our interview with another paleontologist, Matt Christopher from a few months ago. Once you read on to see what Barry has to say about 3D technology, paleontology, and Indiana Jones, it will be confirmed that working with dinosaurs bones is pretty much the coolest job ever.



 The Legend himself


Which is your favorite dinosaur?



How are you using 3D technology (capturing, modeling, printing) in your line of work?

 We bought our first 3D printer (a MakerBot 2) this past January and spent Winter learning how to print found-objects from Thingiverse and create our own (like a simian skull) with 123DCatch. Convinced we could test its educational affordances within a two-week long summer program, we tested the concept by entering our Big Bone room and working with an Allosaurus' femur. The test worked: it took 20 minutes for two of us to get three strong captures, and another 30 to combine then into one print-ready fossil. We felt that was quick enough to scale into an educational program, and the learning curve we had to climb was within reach for high school youth.


What problems does 3D technology help you address?

 Both capturing and modeling helps us to teach youth how to closely observe.  Printing allows youth to touch and manipulate the untouchable. No one would ever give teens glue guns and ask then to combine real dinosaur fossils into a scientific model to demonstrate how they might have pursued prey or walked. But with 3D printers, we could do the next best thing. 


Do students and younger people have a natural affinity towards learning 3D technologies?

 That's hard to say. Is the current generation somehow more pre-disposed to problem solving in virtual 3D spaces than my own? I don't know. What I can say is that they seem to come with more of an open-mind (adults seeing our six printers often nervously quip about whether I can now print guns). And many (not all) have tremendous experience navigating 3D environments in high-end video games. At the same time, the most common response I get from adults who learn of our programs is, "Where can I sign up?"


Do you think 3D technology is accessible to all skill levels and ages?

 Eventually, yes. Sure, I can point to the 8 year-old whose Kickstarter campaign for a Thanksgiving-themed Chanukah menorah (both holidays coincide this year) began with him developing the model in the web-based Tinkercad then printing it on a Makerbot. Or my son when he was 5 designing a clock in SketchUp for his little sister's dollhouse. Or my 13-year old twin cousins who learned in just a few minutes how to use 123Dcatch on their iPhones so they could bring home their own 3D photos of our Museum's dioramas. But that would be misleading. 

The physical tools are pricey and clunky and the digital tools are free and, while miraculous, you still get what you pay for. I am confident the costs will come down, reliability will go up, and learning curves will smooth out - but until then you have to be willing to geek-out now and again if you want to get involved with digital fabrication.   


Have any of the students ever discovered something about the fossils that your team missed?

 No, but that would be crazy if they did. I am almost tempted to say they did just to start a new meme. Can you picture it? "Hey, did you hear some kids using 3D printers learned something about dinosaurs missed by the experts?" But of course, that is not the point. While scientists at the Museum and elsewhere DO use 3D scanners and modeling programs to advance science, when we put these tools in the hands of youth we are not asking them to contribute to science but to simulate what scientists do and their scientific practices. Even though they are working with real fossils, they are still far removed from the sophisticated skills developed by paleontologists to properly view and bring meaning to them. 


How was your experience using 123D Catch?

 123D Catch is so awesome. It relies on so much existing knowledge - how to turn on an iPhone, how to take a photo, etc. - that the digital fabrication components are relatively easy to teach and master. Youth need to learn the direction to take the photos, how much of the screen to fill with the image, and how to embrace background noise. But that's fairly easy. It still takes about two tries from a beginner to get a decent capture, and about 10 - 20 or so attempts before you can consistently get what I'd considered an excellent capture. And that's pretty good. 


Do you have any tips or tricks for people just getting started with 3D technologies?

 Read everything you can online, try things out, then watch videos, then read some more, then try more things out, then find a listserv or community where you can ask questions. Make something new and give it to someone you love. 


What’s next for 3D printing in your lab?

There are so many options on the table. We'll see what pans out over the next six months. Capturing Mammals, perhaps? We're already taken Capturing Dinosaurs to our Night at the Museum sleepovers, and planning for the World Maker-Faire NYC next week. Digital fabrication in our youth research programs, perhaps, and for the public in our learning lab. And more... but that's all I can say for now. You can watch for more details on my blog: and on my Twitter feed @mmmooshme.


And finally…Pick one: Indiana Jones or Jurassic Park?

 Indie, of course, as the character of Jones is inspired (albeit indirectly) by American Museum of Natural History's former director, dinosaur bone hunter, and adventurer-extraordinaire Roy Chapman Andrews (look it up!).




Best Award Ever.

We got a heads-up about pretty awesome use of 123D Catch today from the Makerbot guys.  Architecture firm Gensler Shanghai produced the "Chicken Foot Awards" for their annual all-staff meeting a couple of months ago by taking photos of an actual chicken's foot to render in 123D Catch, then print them out on Makerbots.


Go on and treat yourself, download your own Chicken Foot Award over at Thingiverse.  Better yet, design your own funky award!

Interview with a Dinosaur Hunter!

  We meet a lot of interesting people at the Maker Faire events.  Every once in a while, there's someone who's been quietly laboring over something absolutely cool and I'm stoked that I get to gawk at it for a little bit.  Last week in Kansas City we met Matt Christopher, a Paleontologist at Science City in Kansas City and he showed us a 3D printed model of a Psittacosaurus skull, rendered using 123D Catch and Blender. I couldn't help but follow up with some questions - some serious and some irreverent, but all enlightening.

123D: What’s your name?
MC:  Matt Christopher (like the children's sports book author) 

123D: What is your quest?
MC:To stay awake and get more stuff accomplished. 

123D: What do you really do?
MC: I'm a paleontologist who has too much fun working with digital media tools making things like fulldome planetarium productions and interactive didactic kiosk apps.  I work at Kansas City's Science Center,  Science City, and teach an online course for Park University in Parkville, MO: Geology 300-Introduction to Dinosaurs. 

123D: When did you know you wanted to do that?
MC:I knew I wanted to be a dinosaur hunter for as long as I can remember.  I think I remember  learning that was called a paleontologist rather than an archaeologist when I was 8 years old, and have been correcting people ever since. 

123D: Who’s your biggest fan?
MC: I think my greatest fan must have been my grandmother who passed away earlier this year.   At her funeral, I met a number of people I had either never met, or met when I was so young I did not remember them. They apparently all knew me and of my paleontological exploits through the newspaper articles she  made sure they all got to see and hear about. 

123D: What’s your favorite dinosaur?
MC: Ankylosaurus was one of the dinosaur genera that saw the Age of Reptiles come to an end.  It was heavily armored, had a low center of mass and so was adapted to a world where survival  meant being able to intimidate the likes of Tyrannosaurus with appearances and body language alone. That would be my mount of choice were I to find myself riding across a Cretaceous terror-scape. 

123D: Finish this sentence: “Take the house, take my car, just don’t take my….”
MC: The obvious answer here is my family.  I cherish my 5 & 6 year old boys, Lane and Landon,  and my wife, Ashlea.  (Aren't you proud Sweetie?  I remembered not mention your age!) 

123D: What are you working on (‘making’) right now?
MC: I've got a small ongoing dinosaur replica side project ( molding and casting fossil teeth and claws. I have a jigsaw puzzle of dinosaur rib parts lain out across my workbench and I'm also working on mounting a Psittacosaurus, a 6-foot long herbivorous dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous.  I've 3D printed a replica of it which I'm using to design the armature for the real skeleton which will most likely be composited of 3D printed and  laser cut parts. 

123D: Give an example of a recent ‘AHA!’ moment in your life.
MC: After gluing my 3D printed Psittacosaurus skull together and inspecting it closely, I noticed that psittacosaurs did not have forward facing stereoscopic vision (as herbivores would not have as  much use for as predatory dinosaurs would), but it may have had stereoscopic UPWARD facing vision.   This would be important for hitting a target with its head lowered, battering-ram style. 

123D: Your White Whale.  Is there a project that just keeps getting away from you?
MC: If only I could stay awake even longer!  I've got a number of fossils in my garage that need to be prepared but I think my muses slap me around the most over not finding time to do some independent fulldome feature production.  Then there's that paper I should write about that epiphany mentioned above. 

123D: First thing you remember really breaking and then fixing:
MC: I can't remember if I was 6 or 7, but I was standing on the bathroom sink and squirted what seemed like a mile of toothpaste out of a nearly new tube when I stepped on it and the cap popped  off.  Knowing I'd get in trouble for: A. standing on the sink, B. trying to get in the medicine cabinet, which was of course why I was standing on the sink and C. wasting so much a tube of toothpaste that everyone would remember was full that morning, I decided to squirt the toothpaste back into the tube using Mom's cake decorating kit.  There was a hint of mint to the next couple of cakes Mom  decorated, but other than that, I'm pretty sure I got away with it. 

123D: Please share one tidbit of technical knowledge and/or expertise that someone could possibly go their entire life without needing to know.
MC: If you have a web browser open, Control+U opens a portal to "The Matrix". But seriously, brachiosaurid cervical vertebrae are volumetrically more air than bone. 

123D: Cake or Pie?
MC: Pie.  Key lime.   

Gotta love key lime.  See more of Matt's project here at his Instructables page and some dinosaur bits on the 123D gallery.

Introducing the Autodesk 3D Print Utility

Update, Feb 18, 2014: To provide you with a streamlined 3D printing experience, the Autodesk 3D Print Utility has been integrated into Meshmixer - a powerful yet easy-to-use mixing and sculpting software.  Now, when you click “3D Print…” from any of the 123D apps, your project will be loaded into Meshmixer to prepare, refine and preview your models to print with confidence.  To download the latest version of Meshmixer, please visit

Introducing the Autodesk 3D Print Utility!

What is it?   The utility (A3DP for short) is a tool to help you successfully 3D print your models.  You can use it by choosing the "3D Print" option in the Autodesk 123D apps or you can open it like a stand-alone application from the Windows Start Menu or the OS X Applications folder.  It works with the software that came with your 3D printer such as MakerWare or Objet Studio by sending your model directly to that app – or you can just save the optimized 3D model as an STL.

What does it do?  The utility will make changes to your model to make it easier to print and also help you find the best orientation for a successful print with the least amount of support material.  It does this by applying a series of techniques that we call mesh-optimizations - which I will list below.


Automatic Healing.  The utility analyzes every triangle and vertex for problems and automatically fixes them upon import.  You're told how many repairs were made (if any) in the upper left corner.  If no fixes were made and you click "Save…" or "Export to MakerWare" the resulting STL will be identical to the original.

Hollowing gives the model a 5mm wall thickness.  This lets you later set the infill % rather high, but not have to fill in the entire volume.  If a region of the STL is less than 10.0mm thick, that region won't be hollowed.  We may update this with a user-selectable wall thickness, stay tuned.

Adaptive Thickening or "Thicken thin regions" takes into account your printer type and slightly expands regions of your model that are too small to print on that type of printer.  This is a powerful feature, but we don't recommend you use it for all your prints.  We find it most useful when meshes come in with tiny features like pointy claws, teeth, or hair and need to be expanded and smoothed out before 3D printing.  Basically, if something is too thin to print it will be slightly widened in only those areas.  In the example below notice how the pointiest part of the tip of the pin and the edge of the round disc have been slightly widened but the rest of the model is unchanged.

Support material preview.  With a click of the mouse, you can add a preview of the overhanging areas and the support material that they'd need to successfully print. You can see this in the top image of the Tyrannosaurs, the red is the model, the grey is the support preview.  For this release of A3DP, it is not adding actual support to your model, just previewing it as it would look in Makerware, etc..

Where do you get it?  The easiest way is to download one of the 123D apps like 123D Design, 123D Make, or 123D Catch – the installers for these apps will ask if you'd like to install the Autodesk 3D Print Utility.  Another way is to create something in one of our awesome, free online apps like 123D Design Online or 123D Catch online and choose "3D Print at Home" from the main menu – and yet another way is to open any model in the gallery and choose "3D Print at Home" from the "Fabricate…" menu on the right.

What does it work with?  Your file will open in the utility if you choose "3D Print" from the main menu of the aforementioned apps, or if you press "3D Print at Home" from Autodesk's 123D gallery or the 123D online apps.

What are you waiting for?  If you have a 3D printer or you just want to play around with 3D models go ahead and download it now!

Introducing 123D for the Tinkercad community

Autodesk is pleased to welcome Tinkercad to our family of fun, powerful and easy-to-use tools! We’d also like to extend that welcome to you, the community of users that has made Tinkercad great. For those of you who aren't familiar with 123D or are here for the first time, check out the brief video tour below, and then read on for an introduction to the rest of the 123D family, and some of the things you can do with them. You'll find tools that help you get 3D models of real world objects into Tinkercad, help to make your Tinkercad models into physical objects, and design software to take your designs to the next level.

To get the most out of 123D, you should sign up for an Autodesk account. A free account will let you store projects in our online gallery, and download files from our content library and from other users. A premium membership will increase your access to premium content, give you access to an Instructables Pro membership, discounts on the purchase of a Makerbot, and many other benefits.


123D Catch turns a series of photographs into a detailed 3D model of an object.  You can take pictures with the iPhone and iPad versions, or use a digital camera with any modern internet browser that works with Tinkercad. We also have a standalone desktop version for Windows. Tools available in the desktop or online versions of 123D Catch help you clean up your scans, select the most important parts, and export a file suitable for 3D printing or CNC.

When you export a file for 3D printing from 123D Catch, Tinkercad can import these files (.STL or .OBJ) directly, and manipulate them like other solids. You can scale them, move them, and combine them with other solids. (In fact, Tinkercad does a great job of preparing 123D Catch files for printing).

123D Design is a 3D design program, much like Tinkercad, but with additional features that can help take your designs to the next level. Features like fillets (rounded edges), chamfers (angled edges), Smart Text and the ability to “tweak” edges to make complex geometries give you the power and flexibility to design just about anything you can imagine – and make it look sleek and professional! Tinkercad users should feel right at home with the interface, too.

123D Design can tap into an extensive library of premium models, hosted on the 123D Gallery website. You can also store your own creations on the 123D website, and share them amongst the various editions of 123D Design. 123D Design is available on the iPad, in any browser that supports Tinkercad, as well as a more powerful standalone desktop version for both Mac and Windows. You can export files from Tinkercad as you would for 3D printing, and import them into 123D Design, where you can scale them, move them, and combine them with other solids. You can’t currently edit Tinkercad files in 123D Design, but we’re working on it.

123D Make is a powerful program that takes a 3D model and prepares it for fabrication using many different techniques. For example, you can slice your model into layers, cut these layers out of cardboard using a laser cutter, and assemble into really big constructions.

You can also export files from Tinkercad as you would for 3D printing (STL format) and import them into 123D Make. They work great! 123D Make is available as a full-featured desktop app, and with the most popular functions as a browser based web app, compatible with any browser that supports Tinkercad.

The 123D Gallery acts as the connecting hub between the various apps, as a community for sharing with other users, and as a library for great content. In the near future, we will be developing additional tools for working on your 3D projects that will be hosted here.

All of the 123D apps support saving and loading files from the 123D website, giving you the convenience of being able to access all your projects from any of the platforms: mobile, web and desktop. You can browse and remix projects from other users, and also choose from the library of premium 3D models prepared by Autodesk. It’s also a great place to comment on projects by other users, and share models that you are proud of. Make sure to sign up for membership to make the most of these online features.

Getting things made
The 123D family of programs supports many different ways of turning your digital creations into physical objects. You can choose from carving out of wood (CNC Utility), 3D printing (Autodesk 3D Print Utility) or laser cut slices of cardboard or wood (123D Make). If you don’t have access to workshop tools yourself, you can request services from our many fabrication partners – either via the 123D website or from within the apps themselves.

We hope you find this introduction to the world of 123D interesting, and look forward to seeing what we can make together with these tools! Sign up for a 123D account now!