If 3D printing is all the rage at the moment, then our App of the Day today on Pocket-lint is one of the pieces of software that’s trying to make it something for the average consumer to enjoy as much as commercial folk. You might need to have a bit of an arty streak to really have the patience with it but, seeing as it's free, it’s definitely worth a download.

Autodesk 123D Design

iPad, Mac & PC


iTunes & Autodesk

It’s a good time to give Autodesk 123D Design a spin. It’s all about designing little models, bits of jewellery or the odd pot and getting it printed out to order in a colour of resin of your choice or even in metal or ceramic.

The app - whether the web-based version or iPad - starts you off with a bunch of different template models to customise, augment and generally play with as you will. There are trains, robots, rockets and monsters and all sorts of objects but, in essence, they’re only starting points. In fact, you can even use your own images to begin, just not on the iPad version.

app of the day autodesk 123d design review ipad mac and pc  image 2

You then use the rather in-depth and, for our money, quite complex range of tools to create anything of which your brain can conceive. Once satisfied, send your design up to the cloud, choose how you’d like it to be fabricated and Autodesk will send the order to the one of its three print partners to which the job is most suited. You’ll get a quote, an estimated time of delivery and then, hopefully, your item back through the post.

There’s a fair bit to experiment with before you really get the hang of the design process but it’s certainly streets ahead of most of the standard CAD packages out there. The experience on the web is probably a little better than that on the iPad but only because the iPad - certainly the iPad 3 - just comes up a tiny bit short on graphical processing to make it smooth enough. There’s just too much lag, sadly, but perhaps those with the iPad 4 and its A6X chip might fair better.

That aside, there’s a lot of fun to be had if this is the kind of thing that floats your boat. As for us, I don’t think any relatives of ours would be best pleased with 3D models of what our skills managed to produce.

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