Low and behold! The free modeling app from Autodesk that makes many quake with 3D modeling delight has received a point release and upgrade to a lot of the basic fucntionality. The new features are indeed a delight, but the deeper significance of the activity revolving around Autodesk and 123D is the evolution of the site. What began as a place to simply download the 123D Design, Catch and Sculpt and Make apps, is now going full-on community share site, with premium membership, a huge chunk of storage space and premium models from the 123D Elite.

New Updates for 123D Design

First, let’s talk updates. Initially, 123D Design fell a bit flat, with Autodesk even admitting that “people who had training with professional tools struggled with 123D because it’s designed to be intuitive”. It is quite intuitive, but while the interface hasn’t changed and those who struggled with it may still desire a model tree and complex UI elements, I’m happy to report that 123D Design 1.1 brings a handful of needed features along with a noticeable reduction in lag.


New features:

Export STL Files
You now have the option to directly export an STL file from within 123D Design, without having to go back to 123Dapp.com to download it.

Insert from a local drive
Now you can not only insert parts through the Parts Bin but also merge complete models by using the Insert function. You can insert from your local drive, not just files stored in the cloud!

Sketching Enhancements
You can now Trim and Extend objects while you sketch. Arc sketch is added and an option for making fillets on two different entities within the sketch. You can now dimension sketches and mirror a sketch.

Dimensions and measurement
123D Design 1.1 introduces the Dimension tool. It allows you to select two elements (bodies, faces, edges, lines) and display the resulting dimensions.

Send to CNC Utility
123D Design 1.0 introduced options for directly sending the model to 123D Make, and also allowed you order a 3D print based on your current model. 1.1 introduces an option to send the model to a CNC utility, which will lead you through all the steps for preparing your model for fabrication with a CNC device.

You can, of course, download the new version of 123D Design from the 123D website for free.

Building a Share Site

But wait, that’s not all. In December, Autodesk introduced Premium memberships to the 123D site. With it, you get an Instructables membership, free single material prints up to 4″x4″x4″ and soon, they’ll provide you 25GB of storage and 10 premium models per month from the top makers in the 123D community.

Now, this can mean one of two things. 1) Autodesk is building a project collaboration and community site for people to make, create and share their creations or 2) there’s an impending acquisition of a project collaboration and community site (let’s say GrabCAD or Sculpteo) that will play into the new storage and premium model features ever so nicely.

Although, it’s likely to be the first scenario, I wouldn’t be surprised at an acquisition by Autodesk in the the project collaboration space. It would fit nicely into their portfolio and plans to work within the maker community and building one from scratch… well, that’s just a lot of hard work.

Source: 123D Blog


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, 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.