Sketchup Software Class

How to learn New Apps:
  • When it’s not expressly required
  • By exploring making mistakes and solving them:
  • solving by questioning / Forums / youtube
  • If you don’t learn it and make it do what you want you’re no longer a designer.
  • Designs become program standards.
3D modelling and design software from Sketchup
Freeware > Make
Paid > Pro
Make vs Pro
Pro allows exporting to DXF and other file types as well as importing and the use of Layout for sketchup.
besides these not much, and these won’t worry us too much.
Signup > Download and play.
Sketchup uses the .skp file format and .skb for backups
Intention is to use this software for 3D Printing and design mockups… 3D printer reads code generated from 3D models / solids
Show the work achievable.
     Fishing net Bracket:



Basic interface:
     Tools left side and top > view large tool set
     Dockers and palettes open as needed.
     Menu bar at top
3D Axis
Basic tools. tool by tool.
Useful Processes:
Start with Archi / furniture in mm.
Draw by series of lines and faces and applying modifiers to change the geometry
once happy with the model we need to get it to a format that 3D printers can handle > stl (Stereolithography)
need to add an extension to do this.
for extensions we need to access some extra resources. Window > Extension Warehouse > search or STL
Useful Resources:
*Jono James 2015

3D printing 101

Quick Guide:

  1. Download a 3D file from
  2. Download Cura slicing software
    1. Open Cura and set your printer (we have the following printers at the Makerspace: Prusa i3, Makerbot Dual, Printrbot)
    2. Set your temperatures according to the plastic you plan to use (PLA: Nozzle 210°C, Bed 50°C; ABS: Nozzle 240°C, Bed 90°C)
    3. Set the nozzle size according to your print objective (we use 0.4mm and 0.8mm)
    4. Set your layer height (0.1mm high res, 0.35 low res)
    5. look at the estimated print time, and see if you want to change the scale or print speed accordingly.
3D printed hand gesture
Thats the way we like it

So you want to learn about 3D printing? Cool! 3D printing is an additive manufacturing process that creates a physical product out of a digital model. We use FDM printers because they are cheaper and more accessible. The process:

    1. The easiest way to get printing is to download a model from, youmagine or grabcad you can even customise some items on the website.
    2. You will need to save an STL file, Import it into a slicing program like Cura (easy),  Makerware (makerbot only), repetier host (intermediate) or Slic3r (advanced). Customise the settings for your print (temperatures, material types, speeds etc)
    3. Export the “gcode” file which the 3D printer you are using understands.
    4. Print: (you can use a service like 3Dhubs if you don’t have your own 3D printer, you won’t need to slice the model)

Take it to the next level:

Create your own part.

  1. You will need to draw/design a 3D model in modelling software. We use opensource/free software like tinkercadSketchup (and SDL Plugins), 123D design, 123D catch (on your smartphone), Blender. If you are a digital pro, then you already know how to use something expensive and powerful like cinema 4D, maya, Solidworks, Inventor, ProE, catia etc.
  2. Once you’ve made the part, save the model into an STL or OBJ file type.
  3. (optional step) Then you should check your STL file before going further to save yourself hours of frustration. Use a free service like Netfabb or willit3Dprint.

My 3D Hub

  1. wait (3D printing takes a long time – the printer builds the model literally 0.1mm at a time)
  2. Enjoy your creation!
  3. Repeat.

3D printing materials: FDM 3D printers melt a plastic filament usually made of ABS or PLA and squeeze the molten plastic through a thin nozzle (0.2-0.5mm). The print head moves around squeezing out the plastic like a toothpaste tubeThink about which Plastic you want to use. more background reading: wikipedia on 3D printing 3D printing: whats all the fuss about REPRAP detailed beginners guide to 3D printing


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software for makers

This is the right place to start if you are looking for software for makers

The software you need depends on what you are wanting to make, but we recommend some almost universal tools that will be a great starting place. We also believe in the OpenSource movement, so most of these tools are free and cross platform (work on Mac/Windows/Linux):

Inkscape: is an excellent open, cross platform vector editor. It exports files in DXF and those work with Laser Cutters, Vinyl Cutters and can be a base for CNC & 3D printing. Also make sure you read this: Vectors for Makers

Sketchup: simple architectural based 3D modeler, Trimble will try to upsell you from the free version, ignore them their are lots of plugins available *recommend sketchucation.

sketchucation plugins: register for a free account and browse your plugins directly from sketchup as you need them. *”export to SDL” is a plugin you will need later.

123D Design: Autocad’s free offering hoping to get you into their maker community – buggy but simple and free.

123D make: As above, but specifically for slicing predesigned models, ideal for laser cutting and 2-3 axis CNC router.

sketchchair: A cool but poorly supported software only for making chairs and tables using a laser cutter or simple CNC router.

makerware: Simple 3D printing software for makerbot 3D printers.

tinkercad: Online 3D CAD (computer aided design) software, free for now.

blender: 3D modeling software (an open source cinema 4D/Maya), steep learning curve.

kerkaythea: Render engine for sketchup (Not strictly a making tool, more a visualising tool).  free and amazingly powerful


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