Autodesk has released 123D, a free 3D modeling tool, in beta phase, for Windows. This software allows you to create three-dimensional objects in a relatively simple way and is aimed at those users who need to turn an idea into a three-dimensional project that can be explored, modified and, if desired, finally, turn the object into real.
The product is not limited to a program, there is behind a portal that will bring together a community of users and specialized companies that will be able to turn our design into a real object using cutting-edge technology, such as laser cutting.
First I will tell you about the program and then about the services that you have access to on the 123D App Web. The first thing we have to do, of course, is to download the program from the official site. It does not require any kind of registration. There is a version for 32 and 64 bits. The download file (64-bit) is quite large, 520 MB, which a priori it can give an idea that it is a complex program.
Autodesk 123D, installation and first steps
The download file is compressed and extracts a total of 716 MB of files (64 bits). Requires .Net Framework 4. You can choose the destination folder and when translated, the language. The Beta is in English only. The system requirements are:
- Operating system: Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit). Windows Vista (32-bit or 64-bit). Windows XP Professional or Home Edition (with Service Pack 3). Windows XP Professional x64 Edition (with Service Pack 2), Windows Server 2008.
- Processor: Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64 or higher, clocked at 2 GHz or higher.
- Memory: minimum, 512 MB RAM, although the ideal is 1 GB or more.
- Disc space: 1.5 GB during installation, then it doesn’t take up that much.
- Graphic card: with a minimum of 64 MB of memory and support for Direct3D 9 or 10.
- Internet connection.
As soon as the first screen starts, you realize that you are looking at a product with a very neat, modern and quite aesthetic design. Although you have handled programs from this manufacturer, the interface requires you to get used to it, it is “different”.
Apparently it is very simple and the manufacturer assures that it is the ideal tool to get started. I am not going to discuss the approach, but modeling in three dimensions is not something trivial, nor is it impossible, but if it is the first time that you face this discipline, you have to be patient.
At the first start, a floating window appears showing a series of basic tutorials arranged in a column on the left. On the right you can choose between opening the default model (the robot), creating a model from scratch or opening an existing one.
From this moment begins the experience (or the ordeal) of learning a new tool. You have two bars, the one for modeling in the upper part and tools to move around the screen or objects, in the lower part.
The cube in the upper right corner allows you to move all the figures in the model simultaneously. In the upper left, with a minimalist philosophy, the main menu. The hierarchical structure of the model will always be present in the upper left part of the screen.
What can you expect from Autodesk 123D? Well exactly a modeler. The capabilities of render are very basic, without lighting, without cameras and the possibility of creating images, although CAD. The set of primitives is very elementary and lacks a text tool. In any case, extremely complex objects can be created with the available tools.
Autodesk 123D, services
On the Web you have at your disposal free models, at the moment there are not many but the existing ones are enough to try. To download these models, (extension .123d), you do need to be registered. Either filling in a form, or with your Facebook account.
You can share your work (with the “Publish” tool from the menu) or access other users who share theirs. The services, which are not free, consist of third-party features that have been associated with Autodesk, so that you can materialize the model into a real object, from a mockup to 1: 1 scale (I don’t know to what size).
The project, not just the software, is also in an early stage, so at the moment the only material available for the final object is cardboard. Over time, you will be able to manufacture in any type of material theoretically. For two-dimensional objects they already have laser cutting.
Autodesk 123D, assessment
Initially, Autodesk 123D is aimed at professionals, but its free availability makes the product available to anyone who wants to get started in the world of three-dimensional modeling. Although you have tools to work with precision, the first steps are quite intuitive without resorting to measurements.
The Beta that I downloaded the first day it was made available to the public (version 4.1) has already been replaced by 4.2 – the one used for this article – and even so, it is unstable and quite slow, considering that my computer exceeds with you exceed the minimum requirements.
It gives the impression that the project is lacking a lot of ground, not just the software. In the current phase, the manufacturer encourages us to contribute ideas. If you dare, try Autodesk 123D even out of simple curiosity, the only danger is feeling the syndrome that you need to change your machine for a more powerful one, but that happens whenever you do 3D.
Web | Download