Goodbye Tinkercad. Hello Airstone?

When I saw the email just a few hours ago with the title, “Announcing Airstone and the closure of Tinkercad” in my inbox, I didn’t click through immediately. I thought perhaps it was just a renaming of Tinkercad to Airstone. I mean, Tinkercad’s popularity has been growing in leaps and bounds, and it was certainly the best web-based 3D modeling software. It was just last October that they excitedly announced their Shape Scripts API. What else could it be?

To my dismay, and I’m sure to the huge disappointment of tens of thousands of users, “the closure of Tinkercad” is accurately worded. It’s closing. Here’s the announcement, I received, which also now sits on the site’s home page:

Announcing Airstone and the closure of Tinkercad

When Mikko and I founded our company in 2010, our core idea was to leverage a web browser UI and high performance computing to disrupt computer-aided design and engineering. Our vision was that a software platform created specifically for supercomputers would let us build some very exciting applications. In early 2011 we launched Tinkercad on this platform. It was the first cloud-based 3D CAD ever built and has grown to be a successful product in its category.

In parallel with Tinkercad, we continued development of the core platform. In October 2012, we launched a scripting interface for one of the key components, the Gen6 geometry modeling kernel. And finally, in late 2012, we had several major breakthroughs in our research work on the core platform that opened up application possibilities we had never imagined possible.

In response to these breakthroughs, I’m excited to announce an updated roadmap. There are two major parts to the new roadmap: 1) we are working on an innovative new simulation environment called Airstone, and 2) we will be discontinuing development of Tinkercad. You can read more about Airstone in the official announcement.

To help the engineering team focus on Airstone, I have made the decision to pull the team off Tinkercad. Aside from emergency maintenance, there will be no further feature development work and we will eventually turn the site off.

The Tinkercad shutdown timeline will be:

  • Effective immediately we have closed sign-ups for new users
  • April 30 2013 – All free accounts will be changed to read only
  • August 31 2013 – All academic accounts will be changed to read only
  • December 31 2013 – All paid accounts will be changed to read only
  • June 31 2014 – Read only access for all users will be discontinued

There is an FAQ with additional details that we will keep updating as questions arise.

It was a hard decision for the team to stop working on Tinkercad. However, I can speak for everyone when I say we are very excited about the potential of Airstone. If you are interested in a sneak peak at the future of computational engineering, visit our website at http://airstonelabs.com or shoot us an email at [email protected]

Yours sincerely,
Kai Backman

Founder & CEO

What a shame.

So what’s Airstone? I’m not going to try and sound as if I completely understand what it is they are up to, so please read the announcement below. I can tell you what it’s not: it’s not going to be a revamped, renamed Tinkercad that you should hold your breath waiting for.

Suffice it to say that it sounds like they are on to something big with their Gen6 geometric modeling kernel and have much grander plans for it than what they were doing with Tinkercad.

Announcing Airstone, an interactive simulation environment powered by a supercomputer

March 26th, 2013 — Airstone Labs is a San Francisco-based startup developing a groundbreaking new simulation product aimed at the product design and engineering markets. The company is inviting early customers to contact us, to influence product direction and reserve their spot on the 2013 supercomputing-capacity roadmap.

The Airstone simulation environment turns batch simulation into a real-time environment where the user can interactively test different product designs. The tool is based on production-tested infrastructure, and is backed by a Series A investment from leading venture capital investors.

Airstone is an integrated software and hardware service, built from the ground up to utilize massive high performance supercomputers with hundreds of thousands of CPU cores. This tight integration allows users to run complex multi-physics simulations in real-time, thereby disrupting their current product design and engineering processes by massively increasing their productivity.

The company is built on a solid foundation of two years of live production experience. The fundamental technologies of Airstone – the Gen6 geometric modeling kernel and the custom cluster management system – were key components of the very popular consumer modeling package Tinkercad. The Gen6 is the only geometric modeling kernel that scales to thousands of CPU cores, while the bespoke cluster management system enables quick scaling of simulation codes to large numbers of computation nodes.

The company is also pleased to announce that it has closed a Series A financing round led by True Ventures, with new investments from Borealis Ventures and Lifeline Ventures. “When they founded Tinkercad and set out to build the web’s leading cloud-based CAD tool, Kai and Mikko had to first build a supercomputer-scale modeling kernel. In the process of following our close friend Steve Blank’s customer development process, the team at Airstone Labs identified a far more exciting market for their groundbreaking computing platform: real-time simulation and computational engineering. We are thrilled to support such an incredibly talented team as they rush full bore into this space with tremendous technology already live. Our adventure with Airstone is just beginning, and all of us at True could not be more excited.“ says Jon Callaghan of True Ventures, who will be joining the Airstone Board of Directors.

Airstone Labs is actively hiring Engineers at its San Francisco office.

So, Tinkercaders: what software will you be using now instead of Tinkercad?

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