123D Catch. Source: Autodesk
123D Catch. Source: Autodesk

Autodesk strives to narrow the gap between consumer 3D design and 3D printing with a new release of 123D Design for your desktop. The free software allows non-professional designers to create 3D models of just about anything you can imagine and takes the guesswork out of 3D printing your model. 

The new interface introduces a similar look and feel to the other 123D family of apps, making designing a 3D object something anyone can do. It also allows you to easily access and import your models created in the other 123D apps, including 123D Catch, 123D Make and 123D Creature. 

In addition to a fresh user interface, the new 123D Design works seamlessly with Autodesk Meshmixer. In fact, if you don’t already have Meshmixer, you will be prompted to download it when you install the updated 123D Design. Meshmixer is the software that prepares the model for 3D printing.  

Meshmixer allows you to view the model as it will be printed and perform basic functions like rotate, move, and size the model. More importantly, the software will help you optimize your object for 3D printing. For example, the analysis tool will check the model for Strength, Stability and Slicing and highlight any areas of the model that might be problematic.

There is also a repair tool that will automatically repair your model and prepare it to be 3D printed. This tool checks for a watertight mesh and wall thickness and can automatically make adjustments and repairs to your model to ensure it 3D prints properly.

In addition to the updated user interface and 3D printing functionality through Meshmixer, Autodesk added support for opening, inserting, and saving meshes in STL and OBJ formats, tools to Combine, Subtract and Intersect operations between meshes and solids, an option to import SVG files and use them as sketches or as simple extrusions, and more.

The new 123D Design is available for PC and Mac. There is also an app for iOS devices and a web app. The software can be downloaded here.