Beyond the blocks: modeling a space plane for 3D printing in Tinkercad

When people think about modeling rockets and space ships in Tinkercad, they can be forgiven for thinking that all you can do is stick a cone shape on top of a cylinder, and call it a day - but they're wrong! Tinkercad can do a lot more.

Tinkercad has a very powerful engine under the hood, and with some creativity and ingenuity, you can make great looking models that rival those from other 3D modeling packages - and do it fast, for free and in your browser.

Keep reading and follow along the Instructable if you want to learn more.

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Glow-in-the-Dark Rocket Mobile with 123D and Tinkercad

We've been thinking about rockets and spaceships this week at 123D and we had some cool glow-in-the-dark filament for a Makerbot Rep2, so naturally: GLOW IN THE DARK SPACESHIPS!

The models came directly from the gallery, and the planets, end caps and filament points I quickly modeled in Tinkercad. Because the rockets were taller than would fit on a Makerbot, I imported them into MeshMixer to chop them in half witht the Slice tool. Slicing them also allowed for printing without support material.  With a little Krazy Glue, you get more size options.

If you want to make this yourself, you can try downloading more and different rockets. We've collected together a bunch of really varied rocket designs. ( <- click to see the collection and download!)

The trickiest part of a mobile is (perhaps obvious) is the balancing of all the elements - both physically and visually.  I printed a couple different sizes of rockets and planets, with varying infills so that I would have options when I started assembling it.  Only after printing the last rocket did I realize I could have just modeled the eyelets, but there you have it.

In total, the project cost about $15 in parts and materials: monofilament, eyelets, dowels and krazy glue. 


This is a perfect weekend project - and the glow-in-the-dark filament is available from Makerbot.  See the whole project here on  What are you making for SPAC3D?

The Blood Moon – Tonight!

Eerie name for a blog post, right? Well have no fear, it all comes back to our theme of the month - space! Tonight those of us on Earth will play witness to a full lunar eclipse, affectionately nicknamed "The Blood Moon" due to the reddish-orange color the moon will take on just past 3am Eastern. 

This moon marks the first of four total eclipses that will conclude in September 2015, a phenomenon known as a tetrad. We hope to see you out there gazing skyward, hoping to uncover the mysteries of the universe while using the rare event as an opportunity to say words like "umbra," and to make use of all the awesome moon and moon-related models living in the 123D gallery

For more information on where you can view this stellar event (see what we did there?), check out this site.

Simulate space capsule re-entry with Autodesk 123D

Right now everyone is getting excited about space - with Mars at its brightest last night, and a lunar eclipse coming up next week, it's hard to not look up at the sky and wonder how you too can explore the universe. Here at the 123D secret headquarters, we are also excited about everything astronomical, so we put together a project that explores the basic concepts behind the not-so-basic practice of re-entry to Earth. To do so, we need to understand flow and pressure around a space capsule coming back to Earth (yay, science!).

Looking at our suite of apps, we wanted to give you something mobile, free, and easy. This led us to putting together a project using iOS Design and ForceEffect Flow, which enables you to simulate the airflow around an object – all on an iPad.

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Rockets and Robots: exploring STEM education with 123D

April is a big month for rockets and robots, and for STEM education in general. Here at the Autodesk 123D world headquarters, we are pleased to provide you with tools and project ideas that will help you explore this field.

Coming up first is Yuri's Night, a celebration of the first manned flight into space, on April 12th. We have an extensive collection of 3D rocket models in the 123D Gallery, and we've gathered them together for your convenience. Check out some of them below. You can download them, change them, 3D print them and share them with your friends. Stay tuned for tutorials on how you can use 123D Design, Tinkercad and Meshmixer to make some great things.

Soon after that, two major competitive robotics events are coming up, both from April 23-26: The VEX Robotics World Championship in Anaheim, California; and the FIRST Robotics Competition in St. Louis Missouri. We'll be publishing simple robotics projects to get you started in this field, integrating electronics and 3D printing.

You can also find some great 3D models of robots in the 123D Gallery - we've packaged up some of them, but feel free to go exploring: there are a lot more! Use them as a starting point for some fun projects.

Keep checking back, for fun and easy projects you can do, and a surprise guest!

3D print Chinese spacecraft with 123D

China's space program has been very active in the past year, and we wanted to help a broader audience understand and explore these achievements by making it possible to 3D print Chinese spacecraft models. We've put together a set of projects with all the parts needed to 3D print on a Makerbot or similar. 

All of these models were made using 123D Design, so you can modify and customize them easily. They're set up as Projects on our website, so you can easily download all the files at once.

With one exception, these models snap together using simple pin connectors - no glue needed. (The one exception is the main body of the moon lander, which is too big to print on a Makerbot.)

The first set of models includes the Chang'e moon lander and Yutu rover, which landed on the Moon in December. It's a really detailed model - you can articulate the solar panels, and the very elaborate ramp used to deliver the rover to the surface.

Click here to access the projects: Chang'e lander, Yutu rover.

Chang'e lander and Yutu rover

 We've also added a model of the Shenzhou capsule, used to put Chinese astronauts (or taikonauts) into orbit. You can print a variation with a connector that allows it to dock with the model of the Tiangong 1 space station. The Shenzhou and Tiangong can be made with folded or deployed solar panels.

If you saw the recent film "Gravity" starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, you may recognize the Shenzhou and Tiangong spacecraft - they play an important role in the film.

Click here to access the projects: Shenzhou capsule, Tiangong-1 space station.

Shenzhou capsule and Tiangong space station

Finally, we have a model of the rocket that is used to place all of these into orbit, the Long March 2F.

Let us know how these models work for you, and how you use them!