Alternative similar to TinkerCad?

Up to now, I was able to create 2 huge projects using TinkerCad. I have no need for functionalities in Blender to design items, TinkerCad suffices. Yet, it runs into problems with big files and too many polygons.

Decimating STL’s can only be done up to a point where you can actually see a decline in how the outcome looks. For my next project, I have about 20 files of ± 30MB to combine. Since TinkerCad does not allow importing files over 25MB and too many triangles, I am stuck.

I need to combine shapes, to remove parts on each object, so when printed, they fit together as one. I need to combine all objects and move them around a bit, so it looks perfect as a total, if that makes any sense. I can’t handle them well in MeshMixer to do so, and Blender is even worse.

I also imported one of those files in cuts in TinkerCad and combined them. I created a shape out of it, as that helps to work with it, a tip I got from TinkerCad helpdesk. But now I have 1 file and I need 19 more, and it already is at it’s maximum to work with. I notice as the object now has red edges and anything I do takes ages, so it’s at it’s max capability. One of my previous projects got the “failed nodes” message more than once, and I barely managed to revert back and finally finish the job, but now I am stuck to handle that much.

I looked online for an alternative which is very similar to work with, but I stumble onto a jungle of programs and so far found none which can compare. Please help!

I am using FreeCAD to import STL files and convert them to editable solids that can then be converted to revised STLs.
I’ve been using it for a while and still find it works for me in a non-intuitive way but with persistence and saving intermediate steps it can be pretty useful.

STLs with fillets or radii can have a large number of elements, and tax the best of computers.
I find it advantageous to ‘draw over’ an imported STL with simple solids, delete the STL, edit the solids and as a final step apply radii and fillets.

The new release of FreeCAD has added a lot of capabilities so for me learning it is worth the pain.

I discovered that with careful placement STLs can be combined in CURA. There is an option to slice everything on the bed so you can fuse shapes when you generate gcode.


As FreeCAD is totally different to the way TinkerCad works, I had looked into that last week, that is not an option for me.

I have still been looking for a solution meanwhile. I swear, my eyes are becoming rectangle from watching YouTube vids, lol.

Today, I searched our founding father’s channel (hope you don’t mind me calling you that, Mr. Shapiro) and stumbled upon this. Is Shapr3D the Easiest CAD for 3d Printing Product Design? - YouTube

Will try it out with a free trial, and see if it can handle my files. The way it works for me feels as easy as TinkerCad to me. Anyone here tried it too?

I should have said I have never tried TinkerCad but was trying to explain how I work around some of the problems you described. I’ll be interested to see what you select to use moving forward.
I viewed the video and wonder if the lack of features and simplicity is worth the price.
Perhaps in future companies will insert advertisements in our work spaces!

I read that one person handled a 500MB file with a semi decent computer to work on, using Shapr3D, so fingers crossed.

I did watch several of their tutorial vids before trying the free version. It has all the functionalities I need regarding my miniatures in a way similar to TinkerCad, especially on union, subtract and intersect, which I use a lot.

I tried the free version. Nice startup tutorial. Easy as pie to work with. But, that free version is VERY limited, sigh. Will have to sign up for a free PRO trial instead, which I will do as soon as I can devote 14 days full attention to it, which hopefully will be next week. I have many brain fog days, lol, I need to make full use of those 14 days!

Anyway, IF it’s useable, I will take a subscription per month. Way too expensive for a hobbyist to take it for a year and a month or 2 will suffice for this project. Honestly, I only have 1 project I need it for so far. I managed to brew parts in TinkerCad so far without problems the past year. I made computer parts for hub in it too.

Will keep an update in here.

Small update: I am amazed how much Shapr3D can muster. I divided my project in 4 groups of data, according to priority to work with. Essential was, to be able to add the entire first group, as otherwise, the project was a no-go for me.

I started, hoping I could upload about 1GB of data. That went smooth, so I added another group, and another, and finally, I finished working on adding my last files. I can’t add more, because I ran out of project files to put in, which is more than I dared to hope for. So, it can manage even more than I currently use. I am currently just over 4GB. Yep, you read that right! 4GB!

My files are very detailed, so that’s impressive! Still on the free basic tryout. Have to say, after crossing the 4GB, it’s slowed down and waiting to do any instruction takes long, but still.

Next week, I will start doing unions and subtractions of my files. If that doesn’t work well under the free version, I will make use of the 14 day trial version. After that, I will take the monthly subscription till my project is done. The free version only exports a low polygon version, so I have to switch at some point anyway.

Another update: At this point, I wanted to show my idea to hub and my best friend. Although the free Shapr3D version only exported a 5GB low polygon version, as high polygon is reserved for actual subscribers, the result to show would not be crisp, but still. I tried many free 3D viewers, but only one didn’t crash or refused to show it. It took 5 hours on a gaming PC, with the second best graphics card ever sold, to show it, wew!! I used 3Dtool Freeviewer.

FYI, FreeCAD can work exactly like you need it.

FreeCAD uses a workbench approach, which means it even can use external module to work.

However, the “Part” workbench is exactly like tinkercad. You can create cubes, spheres, cylinders, text and so on and move those around, cut/join each other with boolean operations and so on. Just like “simpler” 3D modeling solutions are doing that. The only difference is that you still can create a sketch and extrude it and there are tons of additional options and operations within the part workbench, which are not possible with tinkercad. For example does part workbench in combination with spreadsheet workbench to create parametric models.

I personally find the tinkercad approach to “simple”, to deal with complex shapes and models, but this is probably just my head not being able to think in shape combinations.

I looked at FreeCad, as I said higher up, it just wasn’t my cuppa tea.

@Pigjes Freecad is quite scary when you first look at it. But before you give up take a look at some of the videos on my channel. You may find it more approachable than you first think.

Thanks @irvshapiro1, I have seen them ? Problem is, I have MS and am terribly dyslexic. In the past, I used to be able to learn a new programming language in record times for example before 2006, lol. Ever since I became disabled, it takes an enormous effort. From 2006 to 2019, I could not even master anything new, not even as simple as Photoshop, for example. It has improved slowly and well enough to come up to a point where enormous effort works if I take weeks or months instead of days to learn something new, but some programs just don’t sink in.

If it’s not intuitive, straightforward, or user friendly, my brain can’t grasp it anymore. I just have to do workarounds and swear a lot, lol. FreeCad is one of them, I tried. Blender is another. I can do the vary basics in Blender, but no more. Not complaining, I am grateful for what is still possible, it could have been WAY worse.

@irvshapiro1, thanks, I will look into that one, see what it can offer me.

Update: I let my huge design rest a few weeks, let it brew in my head, and made it even better. I tried all the functionalities i most certainly need to finish this project and what I usually use when I fiddle with designs, to see if they worked. I then took the 14 day trial of the monthly prescription. I copied my design to have a complete version to study, before working with the other version. Can’t open either of them anymore, the program throws me out. Helpdesk has been working on it since, but in weekends, nothing happens. Not a happy camper at the moment.

I am brand new to this forum and to 3D printing. Received my Ender 3 S1 Pro yesterday, currently printing my first print as I type this, the Cat.
A few days ago i downloaded Matter Control after watching Irv’s video, and found it to be fairly simple program to create and slice. Already created my first project for myself.
That being said, I have not used it to print, yet. I have used AutoCAD for years, but in 2D mode. So in summary, using all these different 3D Cad programs takes some learning. Take a look at it, it may be what you need.

Thanks. Tried it and it can’t cope with what I want to do, unfortunately.

Very disappointed. I started over and this time started unions and subtractions early on. Shapr3D can’t do 2 consecutive subtractions, meaning: you subtract a part and keep the subtracted part. Then you try to subtract another part from it, and it refuses to do so. Apparently, this can’t be fixed with the files I use, meaning imported files. Strange. Will have to go and look for another program, sigh. I cancelled the free trial and subscription.

Apparently, I need a direct modeling mesh modeler tool. I hope this makes it clear. I had tried a few, none worked so far. I now started to work with MeshMixer. Not my favorite, not sure it will be able to handle big files, and sliding objects in place is very hard.

Having the files assembled in MeshMixer was a big help to try out programs. I decimated the assembled files to their sweet spot in Blender, meaning the point where you don’t see a difference in looks and still reduced a lot, in my case 25% in file-size, which helps tremendously.

Tried several more programs, none worked at all. It seems that most programs struggle with the same issues: subtracting and unions of large files and some programs even importing large files, which are exactly the functionalities I need to get going.

I reverted to my “arch enemy”, meaning Blender. I really hate working with it, but I warmed up to it a little, as I loathed it before. It’s hell to remember the shortcuts and the way it works in general for my damaged brain. Plus, if I did not have discover this vid, it would never have worked: 5 fixes for Exact Boolean problems in Blender: Most don't know #2! - YouTube

Once done with unions and subtractions, I need to see how to cut parts up into each color it needs to be printed, as multi filament tool is not an option yet, as I am not impressed with the current options. Either too much waste of filament, or way too expensive. Painting the PLA is no option either due to my disability. Still a few months to finish designing this project, but I am finally getting there!

Since I won’t start printing this project till we either have solar panels, or till the electricity provider makes their annual bill in summer, it will be a long time to show results, as printing it will take months as well. I will make a new topic then.

As my printer is now broken for over 2 months and will take max 2 more months before it returns, I have plenty of time to keep on working on my designs. I am appalled how badly unions and subtractions work in most programs, including Blender. I have to come up with all the ricks I can find online or come up with myself to do one sometimes, and similar others work from the first attempt. More grey hairs, lol. But, I have now gotten past the worst part of the designing, now comes the fun part.

After 3.5 months, I have my relatively new printer back. WEW!!!

I am not pleased on how they handle their helpdesk. Emails are only looked at once a week. I can’t do live chat, due to my disability.

First, they send a new SuperPinda, didn’t help. They then sent an new Einsy board, didn’t help. I had to sent the printer back to them. Lots of hassle to sent it back, many strict rules to follow, rules they don’t follow themselves when they ship it back, sigh.

Finally, I got a report, clearly a cut and paste job they seem to sent to everyone, containing items I supposedly claimed about, which I didn’t. But, not all items I actually complained about were in it, and no mention of them being fixed. If it wasn’t for the reseller’s interference to help me out, I wonder how this would have happened. A big thank you to for his excellent service!

I was seriously pissed off, as most did not apply to me. I treat my Prusa like a baby, like porcelain, as it is a very expensive item for a disabled person. I had printers before, I do know how to handle one. I might be disabled, but hub has been an IT person for over 30 years and helps me out physically as well. I used to be an IT person. I felt reprimanded like a child who didn’t take a cookie out of the jar. Blame the customer is easy right?

That said, I got it back and a lot more is done to it than stated in the report. It’s at least partially reassembled. That means, that my preassembled model was not done so well. Glad I bought that, as the whole repair deal was free of charge because of it.

I can’t believe it’s the same printer. It never printed this well from the start. I saw many people print items in a way I never could, and was a bit disappointed. It never was that quiet as it is now. Some of their parts were obviously swapped, which they didn’t tell, but I noticed. It’s much sturdier than it ever was. It has new firmware and it measures 45 points to calibrate before each print very fast. And although I thought it was pretty silent before, it’s now ultra silent. I have been able to print something already on it which always failed even from the start. They did agree on the fact that the original SuperPinda did not function well.

My initial thought when I bought this printer, was that quality differences depended on the person who assembled them even at the manufacturer, and I still believe that to be true. Whomever reassembled this one did an excellent job in comparison to before. I just wished they were completely honest about it and treating each customer alike. Some people actually are careful and follow rules.

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