Autodesk Offers Free Software for 3D ‘Makers’


As the second annual Week of Making begins with President Obama calling for a nation of ‘makers,’ Autodesk has responded with the creation of the free and open learning platform Project Ignite, which offers students hands-on experience with design in the areas of 3D printing and electronics.

The project will focus on the entire education spectrum, from kindergarten through the 12th grade, incorporating the custom design software offered by Autodesk through a variety of step-by-step projects, in addition to hardware options that can be purchased by individuals or educational institutions.

“Bringing 3D design and literacy into the classroom is an important step in preparing our next generation to be innovative and creative thinkers,” Autodesk PR Manager Jennifer Gentrup explained to us. “Project Ignite encompasses every aspect of the design experience and available options include free design software, step-by-step projects and hardware purchasing options including 3D printing and electronics kits.”

Teachers will be able to set their classes up inside the program through the web platform.  A class profile can be created online, ready-to-teach 3D printing, 3D modeling or electronics projects can be chosen, and the simple web interface allows for easy management.

The platform can be used through Autodesk’s free software Tinkercard and 123D Circuits, as well as optional for-purchase hardware such as MakerBot 3D printers and Circuit Scribe pens/modules.  It can also be used by parents at home for a weekend project in an effort to transform the educational experience.

Other companies such as Pearson, Arduino, Microsoft and Electoninks Writables also plan to support the initiative by bundling their hardware for schools in order to help educators use the program faster, writes Brian Krassenstein for

“Project Ignite has been a wonderful addition to the classroom and I love what it does for my students’ excitement, engagement and overall interest with design and 3D printing technology,” said Kim Coyle, educator at Middle School of Plainville, in a prepared statement. “Our goal is to inspire and prepare the students to be the next generation of innovators, so we’re expanding Project Ignite into other grade levels and looking into creating a makerspace next year to provide an environment that nurtures the students’ curiosity and creativity.”

The 3D design software offered through Autodesk is used in thousands of schools and maker communities across the country.  The company, who has been interested in 3D printing lately, views technology as not only a use for manufacturing, but also as an essential tool for learning.