Autodesk's insanely fun Tinkerplay app lets you easily design your own 3D-printable action figures

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Autodesk, makers of AutoCAD design software and the Spark 3D printing platform, want to make it easier for children of all ages to design their own 3D-printed items. The company recently released a new app called Tinkerplay that makes it easy to design your own army of killer robots.

Tinkerplay lets you create your own toy from scratch or use the included character templates to customize a scorpion, ninja, or sea creature. Once the design is done you can create your own STL or .thing file to turn your 3D-printed dreams into reality.

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Autodesk's Tinkerplay.

Tinkerplay is based on Modio, an app that Autodesk acquired in 2014. Tinkerplay is available for Android, iOS, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone.

Why this matters: Tech companies want to make it easier to take advantage of 3D printing. So far they've done that by putting printers in more places and creating marketplaces where you can order 3D-printed doodads with minor customizations. But designing your own stuff from scratch (or mostly scratch) is a big hurdle since it requires knowledge of design software. Tinkerplay aims to solve that by making the design process as simple as playing with Lego Technic or K'nex.

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tinkerplay Autodesk

From app to 3D-printed reality.

Even if you don't have access to a 3D printer—they're turning up in UPS Stores and you can order 3D-printed designs through online services like Shapeways—playing around with Tinkerplay can be a lot of fun. The interface is very easy to understand and you can put together a simple toy in just a few minutes. You just pick the parts you want to use, add them to your project, and instantly see what your toy looks like.

The app also lets you take your creation out of the workshop, plopping toys in front of different backgrounds such as space or desert scenes. You can also color your figure and rotate it in 3D space to see what it will look like from all angles. Autodesk says all the parts in Tinkerplay were designed to 3D print easily without the need for rafts or support.

Tinkerplay is a free download in the App Store, Google Play, the Windows Store, and the Windows Phone Store.

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