You may have guessed it would happen. You may have seen a small group of children exiting a school yard in a zombie-like state chanting, “FEED US, FEED US EASY TO USE 3D SOFTWARE.” No doubt to create and manufacture some killer Barbie/Truck mods. Same for the maker crowd. Is there any 3D software created specifically around the idea of DIY? Easy enough for anyone to use, create and send off to make? I, as would many others, say, NO… not until now.

Autodesk is launching a new modeling program into the maker-sphere. A free program, an easy program focused directly on getting that idea out of the digital space and into the living space. It’s Autodesk 123D and it’s the first time we’ve seen a 3D software company officially team up with DIY fab friends, Ponoko and Techshop. Here’s what to look forward to.

Autodesk 123D

  • Later this month Autodesk will make available for download Autodesk 123D
  • Autodesk 123D is a free Windows desktop 3D modeling application that can be used by students, hobbyists and entrepreneurs alike.
  • With 123D, users can play, explore, learn and create highly precise 3D models.
  • From both within the application and through the 123D website individuals will also be able to discover or download content to help get started or finish a design and access personal fabrication services like 3D printing or laser cutting
  • Over time, Autodesk will create additional 123D applications for a variety of platforms and devices that work together and an ecosystem of content, services and social connections – so that individuals have a single destination to make their designs and share them with the world for fun, learning or profit.

According to a Wired interview with Autodesk CEO, Carl Bass:

Autodesk is teaming up with two companies, Ponoko and Techshop to help everyday ‘makers’ produce products. Ponoko offers a service where people send their designs to the company, and the company will make the parts and send them back to the consumer for assembly. Techshop operates like a fitness gym for makers. Membership is $125 per month, makers buy their own materials, and then assemble their idea in the Techshop workshop, in the company of other makers.

Earlier today, a video was released through Businesswire, the Wired interview with Bass, where he (through constant interruption) delivers the idea behind 123D. In the video, Bass states, “…there’s this untapped vein of creativity… This is saying anything you can imagine, you can make.”

I’ve oftened wondered who would be the first 3D software developer to officially team up with maker companies like Ponoko, Techshop, Shapeways, imaterialise and Cloudfab to name a few. No doubt deals are going on all over the spectrum, but supremely interesting that Autodesk is packaging a new software product and a new community around it. I’d say, from one perspective, this one-ups Dassault’s launch of the free DraftSight 2D .dwg software. DraftSignt and 123D are both solving problems. However, 123D is bringing in huge amount of possibilities and, speaking from the perspective of a dad, adding a lot of excitement to the world of makers. Excited too?

If you’re interested in downloading the software when it becomes available, you can register with an email on the 123D website.


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.