Autodesk 123D - New Free 3D Software

paper hollywood

Active Member
Autodesk just released several new free 3D design programs as free downloads, under the name "123D". I haven't had time try it out yet, but it looks promising. Autodesk is maker of AutoCad, the longtime industry standard professional CAD program and I suspect this is their response to the extreme popularity of the free Sketchup 3D software. 123D is available for PC, Mac, iPad and there are also online versions.

One version, 123D Design is focused on producing models that can be sent directly to 3D printers. Another, 123D Make looks like it might be of considerable interest to paper modelers because it's focus is on producing printable and assemblable models. It says it allows PDF output, too. It looks fun.

Anyway, I'll be checking this stuff out as time permits and I thought some of you guys would be interested, too. Here's the links:


You would be better downloading the trial version of Rhino3D, it saves 30 times. If you have a kid in school, you can get the full working version for around $179 I believe, instead of $1000. It just blows Autocad away. If you are good with your Registry, make a dual boot system, wipe out the Registry and reload it ever 30 SAVES. I'd rather do that then use AutoCad for free!

I did not find AutoDesk intuitive at all, or AutoCad for that matter. I have tried both. I have shown people things I have designed with Rhino3D that were impossible to do with AutoCad, let alone Autodesk. These programs, all of them, have a long learning curve, it's a lot of time to invest, choose carefully. Time can be easily wasted. :)
Hey, give it a shot, you'll get more support with Sketchup though, and it's also free and already established, with a large community.


Active Member
Some people do get good results with Autocad, but it is important to remember the original purpose of the software. Autocad is more for architecture, Autodesk 3dsmax is used more in the gaming industry and Autodesk Maya more in the film industry. The list goes on, and just because these programs have their niches, doesn't mean they can't be used for other purposes.
For beginners only looking to learn a 3D program for paper model purposes, these are serious overkill, you'll never use a 10th of the abilities the software has. Again it still shouldn't stop you from learning if you want to.

Regarding intuitive and user-friendly-ness, Everyone has different needs, styles, ways of thinking. Find the software that best suits you.

The main advice I can suggest, particularly for people only getting into the whole 3D thing is, no matter what software you end up choosing (after finding one that suits you), stick with just that. Don't try learning more than one in the beginning. It will only confuse and dishearten. I've been using Maya for over 5 years now, I'm still learning, there's that much. Only recently did I start teaching myself 3dSmax and it really is difficult to prevent myself from constantly comparing the two. Both have their pros and cons.

paper hollywood, I'm really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on 123D Design, when you do get the time. No rush though. ;)


I guess because I had to teach myself everything that I learned, electronics was the only formal training, I have always looked for the intuitive stuff, of course, that is subjective. I haven't been able to do diddly with 3DSMax. I keep going back to Rhino. After seeing our video clip TC, I think your doing great with whatever it was you did that with!

I just like to remind people that if they have a kid or, themselves have a school that they are enrolled in, they can get a fully functioning copy of Rhino3D 4.0 for $179, I think, is the going rate, opposed to it's usual $1000 dollars. Rhino imports and exports so many formats, it's really worth it.

The first language i learned was APL back in 1973. That was before most computers had monitors. Your output was viewed on what you would print. I think a computer did 2 + 2 = 4 in around 2 second, two very loooong seconds, back then. There really wasn't any place you could go to to learn computer skills. When I became a machinists I had to teach myself how to do CNC machining by reading the book that came with the machine, which was about as thick as a telephone book. The first machines would push a line in BASIC. I don't long for those days! :)


Apr 15, 2012
Regarding 123d design I did a quick test yesterday and while it seems promising it is missing a lot in documentation and I am under the impression that they purposefully removed vital functions so they would not canibalize their professional line. I am specifically talking about the sketch tool (you build a 2d sketch before extruding a shape). The tool has some powerfull feature normally found on professional software like automatic constraints. But you can't seem to be able to modify this constraints afterward. Based on the forums I think they removed things since the beta


If yu can't extrude a 2D shape, that is one of the most efficient ways of making a shape. You can almost guarantee that a shape like that will unfold. I use that feature so much I can't imagine working without it.


It should work good enuogh to make it very useful or they sholdn't bother. These programs take a ot of time to learn. It is sad when peple try something invest time, then become discouraged because of limitations of because of lack of support from either the company or any community. When I first purchased Rhino, it did set me back quite a bit, and I really thought I was way in over my head. I did get a lot of support though, from McNeel, the authors of Rhino, and the world wide community. There are so many tutorials on how to do anything you can imagine on Rhino. Like I stated, you have a kid in school, buy it under their name, and now you have Rhino for $195. This is the full functioning version, same as the commercial version, but discounted for students. It is so well worth it.


I have to the conclusion after playing with this software, it is like a T.V. commercial and takes too long to work with and is missing too many features, then offers complexity as a substitute.

Rhino3D 5.0. I just don't see anything that beats it, and at $199 (Student price, fully functional, that included shipping, because you get a physical disc). If you have a student I.D., or have a child with a student I.D., what better thing than teach your child*, how to do C.A.D.!!

(*after you have taught them life's guiding principles.)