By Scott Cleveland

Learning a new skill can be fun or an unpleasant uphill challenge. I think a lot of resistance to learning something new is the sense of overwhelming anxiety that occurs when we are faced with  something so different it might as well be a foreign language.


Despite these feelings people do learn second languages.


My personal foreign language is CAD (computer aided design).


I literally struggle to find which end is up!


My daughter Renee, age 9, (fellow Kzoo Makers Member) wants to make robots that help people.


We all must start somewhere and in a world where powerful and advanced tools are available for free 24/7 365 days a year,  it is hard to be humble.


After all, who wants to play with children’s toys when YouTube is full of people designing and creating their own quadcopters…and making them Autonomous!


I just learned to use a 3d printer. Renee and I were content to download 3d printer ready files from Thingiverse and watch in wonder as the printer brought a screen image to life! (If you’re into 3d printing, you know what those first dozen print jobs are like!)


Renee and I have always wanted to design items and print them out. Everyone I have ever asked about this has sent me to Fusion 360…a POWERFUL and capable CAD/CAM package.


The problem is after two thorough introductory classes I still could not create a simple object and print it out.  It’s not that Fusion360 is bad…its just made for people that already get CAD!


The other confusing thing to a CAD newbie is there are so many great cad programs to choose from or in some special cases limited programs that have CAD like controls.


I have been fumbling through Inkscape, Fusion360, Aspire and Rdworks.


Another issue is most people teaching Fusion 360 are so good at it they get distracted mid lesson with some amazing feature they are excited about.


What they show us is amazing. In the beginning, however, I am struggling to be able to figure out which Axis is up (its z, by the way)   I still struggle with X and Y.


During Kzoo Makers 3d printing 101 experience, someone mentioned Tinkercad.  I never heard of it however I looked at it for about 60 second during the workshop.  It looked quite simple. Literally, like a child’s toy!


30 hours later my daughter was asking me about designing her own 3d printable objects.  My anxiety rose and my heart sank a little bit.


I just did not have much motivation or patience to tackle Fusion and teach it to my 9 year old at the same time.


I was tired and I wanted a shower.  I had an epiphany!


I sat Renee in front of Tinkercad while I took a shower…with no instructions whatsoever. When I came out this was ready for the 3d printer!

15 Minutes later….

Then 1 hour later…

We were both ECSTATIC!


When we hit print it was less than an hour before bed time so we set the printer on its fastest settings and it shows.  We are still learning (I changed the slicing engine in Matter Control.That got rid of all the strings).


The experience has left us very encouraged!


As we hit start on the 3d printer Renee stated she really did not want to try to make an object because she got frustrated when we tried to use Fusion 360.


I had similar thoughts!


We will be experimenting more with Tinkercad and I have no doubt we will run into limitations.  


These limitations will turn into motivation.


That motivation will turn into learning Fusion 360. And who knows…maybe learning Fusion 360 will even turn into robots that help people.