Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ten Tinkercad Tips

3D Printing

What an opportunity we have as educators to bring creativity into the classroom. 3D printing is a process that allows users to dream up an idea and make it a reality. I recently worked with sixth graders through this process. For many, this was the first time they had ever seen a 3D printer. It was an obscure concept to them. Once they jumped into Tinkercad and saw it in action, students experienced scale, the metric system, and how ideas can be fabricated into reality. 

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Tinkercad

Workflow is key. Just like any other technology, there is a learning curve when it comes to using Tinkercad. The experience of knowing how to operate your tools and how it will affect the outcome plays a big factor int he usability in class. The common denominator when it comes to teachers not wanting to venture into the realm of 3D printing and using Tinkercad is the issue of time. It takes time to learn. It takes time to create. To help with that issue, I created ten Tinkercad tips that will assist with workflow. 

Ctrl to Move

Using the control button in conjunction with the touchpad/mouse will allow users to quickly rotate and move around an object. Otherwise, the user will need to use the navigation cube to rotate the camera angle around the object. Depending on how much you need to move around the object, holding control can save the user time.

Scroll to Zoom

To zoom in to or out from an object, users can use the + or - icon on the left-hand side of the screen. If a user has a mouse with a scroll wheel or a touchpad that has a scroll option (Chromebook = swipe up or down with two fingers.) The instant zoom can help you pinpoint and refine your designs at a more efficient rate.


Duplicate

Use the duplicate icon to quickly manufacture repeated objects. For example, I once was helping a student build a model of the Parthenon. He needed to be able to create the exact same column several times. Using the duplicate option, it not only copied my columns, it also evenly spaced the copied object in relation to my first two. This saves a lot of time with not having to precisely move every object that needs to be copied. 


Type Specific Sizes

Attempting to get a precise dimension size on an object can be frustrating using a touchpad or mouse. If there is a dimensional constraint, the user can click on the object, click on the white boxes that allow for dimensional changes, and then click on the numerical dimension. It will then allow you to type in the specific dimension you are seeking. 


Arrow Keys

Users can move objects around using the arrow keys. The default setting for the metric system is one mm per movement. The amount of movement can be adjusted for smaller units. That way precise connections can be made. On the lower, right-hand corner, there is a small drop-down menu called the snap grid. You can adjust the amount of movement per keystroke down to a tenth of a mm. 


Select All and Move

It is often that a person begins a project and wants to make some considerable changes to his/her design. This often requires moving objects around. By clicking away from all of your objects and drawing an invisible box around all of the shapes, they become selected. You can now move multiple objects simultaneously. 


Select All and Resize

Just like the previous move, you can draw an invisible box around all objects and instantly resize all objects simultaneously. This allows you to scale objects evenly across the board in no time at all. 


Group Objects

If you select several objects, they can be grouped into one cohesive unit. This allows the builder to essentially create their own custom shapes with the combining of several shapes. By grouping them, they cannot be easily separated and will stay together until the user deems unnecessary.


Holes

Using shapes and turning them into holes instead of solids will allow you to create some unique shapes to fit your specifications. This is great if you are building an object that is intended to be a container.


Lock Editing

You can lock objects or even groups of objects into place. This is a must when you are attempting to make precise movements with one object in particular. Fewer mistakes of clicking and moving the wrong object will occur by use of this tool. 

What's in the video? 

All of the tips listed are in my video below. I put them all in video format so that you could see them in action. This video is a little more lengthy than I like, so I put a table of contents near the beginning of my video so that you can quickly identify when I begin demonstrating one of the tips. Merely find which one you want to see visually and move the scrubber to the indicated time-stamp.