Children are inherently curious, they like to discover and build new things. In the past, Lego has facilitated this creativity, allowing children to create anything they can dream up using plastic blocks.
The advent of 3D printing can let children’s imaginations run wild. The specific shapes no longer limit them, the possibilities of creation are endless. However, it is the software that could limit their potential.
Imagine trying to teach Autodesk Fusion 360 to an eight year old; which will perhaps demotivate them in record time. Nevertheless, there are child-friendly substitutes. Here are the six best CAD tools to introduce your child to 3D modeling.
Created by one of the leading providers of computer-aided design software, TinkerCAD is a free web application designed for children. Although it is primarily designed for 3D design, you can also use it for circuit design and code blocks.
The web app also offers easy-to-follow lessons to familiarize kids with the tool. Once they’ve made their 3D designs, the app can export the rendered files in STL format for 3D printing or SVG for laser cutting. And if you don’t have any of these tools at home, you can even have it 3D printed online and delivered to your home.
TinkerCAD also provides free lesson plans for teachers to introduce their students to computer-aided design. These courses have varying lengths and you can also find courses suitable for children in grades 3 to 12.
This is another web application created by a well-established computer-aided design company. SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids offers five apps: Shape It, Style It, Mech It, Capture It, and Print It. These apps address one stage of 3D design, allowing your child to master each one before moving on to more advanced stages.
There’s also a Classroom app, which lets you organize and manage classes, helping you teach kids to create 3D designs while unleashing their creativity. It also includes sample lessons, allowing you to quickly start teaching children.
If you want more ideas, you can also check out Featured User Projects, showing the latest idea creators created with the app.
If you find the previous two options a bit overwhelming, 3D Slash offers one of the easiest solutions for 3D design. This application allows the user to create designs one block at a time, similar to Minecraft. And the best thing about this app is that it doesn’t even require you to log in to use it.
Those unfamiliar with 3D modeling can also learn about the 10 short tutorial videos available on the website, allowing you to exercise your creativity in less than an hour.
You can also connect the app to social media platforms, cloud storage services, and other 3D printing services, allowing you to save, share, and print your creations.
Sometimes manipulating 3D space on a 2D monitor can be confusing. For this reason, BlocksCAD lets you create 3D designs using commands. You choose from the list of commands available in its left menu, ranging from 3D and 2D shapes to math and logic equations.
If you don’t know where to start, you can find examples in To learn > Examples to see how they made these shapes. You can also find video tutorials in To learn > Videos to teach you how to create, move and rotate basic shapes.
Additionally, both free and paid courses are available for those who want more advanced lessons, allowing you or your child to get the most out of this tool.
SketchUp is one of the most popular tools for architectural and 3D rendering. This is because you can use its web-based 3D modeler for free while keeping its most important functions available. You can also get in-app lesson plans for free if you have a G Suite or Microsoft Education account.
One of the best things about SketchUp is that it offers basic, intermediate, and advanced tutorials right in its YouTube account. These lessons are easy to follow and get you started with SketchUp.
However, you should note that Sketchup is best suited for eighth graders and up, as its advanced features might be a little too overwhelming for younger students.
This app turns 3D modeling into a game. This fun and easy-to-use app puts your child in a virtual world where they can move around in different locations that offer a variety of building challenges. But before even completing these challenges, they must first go to the training lab to teach them how to move around the world.
For each challenge your child completes, they receive a reward and level up once they gain enough experience. This encourages your child to continue playing and discovering the app, thereby developing their 3D modeling skills.
As well as being educational, Makers Empire is also entertaining, allowing your child to practice their creativity while stimulating their senses. They can use its various functions to build mazes, participate in competitions, complete challenges and build a rocket to visit other worlds.
Get your child interested in creating things
Children are inherently imaginative. If you ask any child for ideas, you’ll probably get a thousand and one in minutes. By encouraging their creativity and fueling it with the ability to build and create, you are building a strong foundation for their future.
In the past, the only way kids could build was using clay, wooden blocks, or Lego bricks. But today, computers and mobile devices allow children to build virtual worlds, where only their creativity is the limit.
By giving them access to the right tools and guiding them in their use, you can help them discover their passion for building and creating. This can lead to a brighter future, not only for your child and your family, but also for our society as a whole.
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