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Shape it, print it, easy!

CAD for Kids – 5 Best CAD Software Tools for Children

Picture of Leo Gregurić
by Leo Gregurić
Sep 15, 2018

Nowadays, kids and teenagers are faced with new technologies at a very young age – and they love it! This is a perfect opportunity for them to learn how to use CAD software. Some CAD software companies created easy-to-use, interactive CAD solutions that enable kids to convert their ideas into reality. Here are the best 5 CAD for kids tools.

CAD for Kids - Just How Easy is it?

A young girl designing a hat in Solidworks's app for kids
A young girl designing a hat in Solidworks's app for kids Source: Solidworks

Imagine a kid who wants a 3D printer, but the only way to make 3D printable models is by using Autodesk’s Fusion 360. In most cases, the kid would probably be a little demotivated because Fusion 360 definitely isn’t an easy to use tool for any kids (or adult) to start learning how to make models.

As a parent, you want the user interface to look clean and simple so that kids can instantly figure out how to use the software. 

Also, kid-friendly tutorials are important, so that the teenagers can improve their skills.

With that said, let’s take a look at best CAD software for kids, and don’t worry, this won’t be just a list; we’ll describe and point out important features of each software me mention.

Tinkercad - Autodesk's Baby CAD

Tinkercad's UI and a demonstration of the scribble feature
Tinkercad's UI and a demonstration of the scribble feature Source: Tinkercad

Autodesk is a very well know company thanks to its professional CAD software developments, but apart from that, they have a user-friendly CAD for kids called Tinkercad. 

Tinkercad is an online CAD which means it works with any computer which has an internet connection.

Let’s be honest, Tinkercad is one of the best, some may argue the best CAD for kids currently available.

It’s extremely easy to use, it allows kids to even turn their scribbles made by a simple move of a mouse into 3D models thanks to the scribble feature. Apart from that, Tinkercad allows the user to export their creation is the most popular 3D printing formats such as .STL and .OBJ . Besides the option to export files, Tinkercad also enables the user to import a 3D model and further enhance it, which is great.

Because Tinkercad is Autodesk’s product, there are lots of tutorials available which makes the learning process even easier! Here’s one from All3DP: Tinkercad Tutorial - 5 Easy Steps for Beginners

If you want an easy to use software for kids which comes from a renowned software company, look no further. Click here to start using Tinkercad.

Solidworks Apps for Kids - The Full Set of Tools

A screenshot from Solidworks's Shape it app
A screenshot from Solidworks's Shape it app Source: Solidworks

A very well known name in the 3D printing industry is Solidworks, and they also made software appropriate for kids. Solidworks apps for kids is a web-based collection of apps which means the tools can be used across many platforms.

Solidworks’s collection of apps for kids consists of 5 different tools. Those 6 tools (web apps) are: Capture it, Shape it, Style it, Mech it, Print it. The 5 apps inside the Solidworks’s apps for kids pack are used for what their names suggest, obviously. For 3D printing, the best combo would be Shape it and Print it. Inside the app, you can download an .STL file which is compatible with 3D printers.

All the tools in the Solidwork’s apps for kids pack are very easy to use, the UI is simple which is great and the whole thing just works! These apps are perfect for kids from 4 to 14 years old, as Solidworks claims.

The app called Mech it is a great tool as far as STEM goes because using Mech it kids can make things move with mechanisms!

Just as Tinkercad, Solidworks’s apps for kids collection of apps is free, the only thing you’ll need is an internet connection and a Solidworks account.

If you are interested in these tools, click here to learn more.

3DSlash - Looks like Minecraft

A screenshot of 3DSlash's user interface
A screenshot of 3DSlash's user interface Source: 3DSlash

Did you ever construct something in Minecraft? Then you know how to operate 3DSlash. 

3DSlash is CAD for kids. It’s available online and offline, compatible with Linux, Windows, macOS and even the Raspberry Pi (which is cool). 3DSlash is not totally free, you can register and use the free version, but if you want to save and use all the features, you’ll need to choose one of the plans available (from $2/mo – $20/mo).

The user interface of 3DSlash is nicely designed, with instantly recognizable icons which results in the ease of use. The most important thing about 3DSlash is the way models are built or destroyed. The visual effects of blocks flying around make 3DSlash a very fun CAD, which is ideal for kids. 

3DSlash is integrated with Google Drive which means you can instantly share your creations. Besides that, when you finish your model, 3DSlash shows you various options for file export, which is intuitive and great for 3D printing as .STL is supported.

When the user opens 3DSlash, a set of tutorials will be displayed to instantly introduce the user to the user interface. The tools you can use inside 3DSlash are machinery-like, such as a hammer, trowel, chisel, and drill.

If you decide to use 3DSlash, you definitely won’t make a mistake; it’s a great CAD with fun visual effects which makes using it a great experience. 

Click here to find out more about 3DSlash.

BlocksCAD - Drag & Drop CAD

BlocksCAD user interface with 3D text saying ALL3DP for demonstration purposes
BlocksCAD user interface with 3D text saying ALL3DP for demonstration purposes Source: BlocksCAD

BlocksCAD is a drag & drop CAD which is very simple to use. The user interface of this software heavily reminds of the one used for programming Makeblok’s STEM robots, which is great, especially if kids experienced drag & drop software before. BlocksCAD enables the user to download an STL file of their creation which is compatible with 3D printers. 

A great thing about drag & drop software like this is that kids just need to place blocks which represent objects, which is both fun and easy to use. This is a good example of a software which kids can start using seconds after launching the program, and the best thing is, it’s free!

To make the learning process even easier, BlocksCAD even provide free tutorials on their YouTube channel.

If interested in using BlocksCAD, click here to start using it.

SketchUp Free - Web-powered CAD

SketchUp Free's user interface
SketchUp Free's user interface Source: SketchUp Free

SketchUp Free is, as its name suggests, a free version of SketchUp, a renowned tool for 3D modeling. SketchUp Free is a web-powered CAD and it’s rather simple to use. The first time you open SketchUp Free, a tutorial pops on the screen to introduce you to the software. 

SketchUp Free is a great tool because models are firstly made in 2D and then executed to 3D using the push/pull tool which basically pulls a 2D blueprint into 3D.

The user interface is well organized and simple, which is very important for kids. SketchUp Free is, obviously, a 100% free CAD, you’ll only need an account to log in and that’s it.

SketchUp Free is arguably the most advanced tool when compared to previous CAD’s for kids we described above. It offers lots of tools which kids can relatively easily learn how to use and start making some intricate shapes!

If interested, click here to sign up and start using SketchUp Free.

License: The text of "CAD for Kids – 5 Best CAD Software Tools for Children" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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