For several years Autodesk has supported the 3D modeling and 3D printing community through their highly useful 123D suite. Now, that may change.
They’ve announced a consolidation of similar products that will ultimately result in the demise of the 123D suite. Here’s the whole story from them:
We are making some changes to simplify our Autodesk portfolio and workflows for people everywhere who love to make things. We are consolidating these tools and features into key apps such as Tinkercad, Fusion 360, and ReMake.
Today, we are sharing the news that in early 2017, after we complete this consolidation, we’ll be shutting down 123Dapp.com and turning off many of the apps to new download. Rest assured that we remain committed to providing free tools to hobbyists, kids, hackers, and makers around the world. We value you, your models, and are going to do this consolidation in the right way.
Of course, they will permit you to download any 3D models you’ve stored on the 123D system, and I strongly recommend you extract yours as soon as you can.
In a way I am not surprised this is happening, as the company has been scooping up smaller 3D tools for some years now, without consolidating them in any significant way. Tools are always more powerful when joined together, and that’s something Autodesk has not done with all of their free tools.
There were too many Autodesk options for those seeking free 3D tools, although I quite like using 123D Design, which I have long recommended as a good starting point for someone just breaking into 3D design for 3D printing.
I’m very happy to see that the company has stated their goal of continuing to support the community through freely accessible tools. 3D is a complex environment and it takes effort to get into it.
I cannot imagine how challenging the 3D world would be if the only way into the space is through the purchase of USD$1,000+ software products: there would be a great deal fewer 3D modelers. And that’s not in Autodesk’s - or anyone’s - interest. That’s why they will continue to support the community in some way.
But that’s the big question. They say they will migrate the functionality to other tools, but will ALL the features migrate? Will some be forgotten and only available in pay-for products? We’ll find out soon.
Aside from downloading your 3D models, you might also consider downloading the 123D apps, as they also will become unavailable in the near future. Note that the suite includes not only 123D design, a 3D modeling tool, but also:
- 123D Catch - A portable scanning service that will likely stop working as it requires cloud access
- Circuits - Design your next electronic project
- 123D Make - Unique 3D models from 2D slices, an excellent tool for those using laser cutting gear
- 123D Sculpt+ - Create 3D sculptures on iPad
And after that, get ready to migrate to a new 3D tool.