the blog

3D Printing Day 4: Picking a Software, SketchUp

by Carlyn Maw on April 5, 2012, no comments

TL;DR  Just easy. Well, “just easy” after watching about 20-30 minutes of intro videos. Everything I wanted to be able to do, I could. With options comes complexity; I had to spend some time strategizing how to approach building the model since there were so many paths that would have worked. The plethora of YouTube videos helped. I would not plop a 6 year old down in front of Google SketchUp, but a computer user who has some familiarity with graphics packages shouldn’t have a problem. Oh, and it is a real downloaded software with which I can make files that live only my computer. Didn’t even need a login. And it’s free. They get-ya in the free version by making the import and export options incredibly lousy. But another plus is the scripting language, so there is a plugin for that.


A quick search on the internet yields up more information about working with SketchUp than anyone could possibly consume. This is the huge SketchUp advantage – it is on version 8. People have been doing this for a while.



I watched quite a few other videos trying to glean how advanced users problem solve in SketchUp. I really thought I was going to end up using the FollowMe tool – if only because of its awesome name. As part of that investigation I watched a FollowMe Tool tutorial, How to make a Doughnut Helix, and one about Cuerpos de revolución. (Yes it is in Spanish. Apparently by a guy who used to do a little Parkour. I love the internet.)

In the end, the Offset tool and the Push/Pull tool  took care of business.

My Video

Since I was able to make the shape so freaking quickly after watching the videos, I decided to make my first screen cast using a built in feature of QuickTime (Took me 25 tires in the end. Think creating a voicemail outgoing message, but 100 times worse.)

The Steps:

  1. Draw circle with a 27.5 radius
  2. Pull it up to 55 mm high
  3. Offset by  2.5 mm
  4. Pull the offset down 52 mm  (measure)
  5. Select the inner bottom edge of the cup with the offset tool, pull it in 22 mm to leave a 6 mm circle
  6. Push the hole down 3mm EXACTLY
  7. Select top outer rim with the Offset tool and pull it out 15mm
  8. Pull both parts of the face up 3 mm
  9. Delete extra circle on the top face
The Model


While google doesn’t force-publish what you do, they do encourage folks to share what they’ve done in the Google 3D Warehouse. A dialog box pops up and asks you if want to share your model the first time you close a file with anything in it. The Google 3D Warehouse is huge. There is some weirdness with my Google 3D Warehouse login – I have two google logins and I can’t seem to get either of them to show carlynorama as the contributor. Oh well, here is the link.


My model of a yogurt Cup SIP – string wick style  on the Google 3D Warehouse


The Run Down


Version 8.0.11751


Target Demographic
  • Ideal Object – A building, an chair, a bracelet, whatever.
  • Ideal User – Medium level computer user to expert


  • OpenSource – No
  • Free– Yes
  • Premium Version – Yes ($495.00, includes Layout – a presentation software, “Why Go Pro“)
  • Linux Version – Nothing native, version 8 works with Wine in Windows XP mode (reported on the Ubuntu Forum)
  • Browser Based – No
  • Requires Internet Acces – only to link to 3D Warehouse or get plugins


Privacy, Community & Learning
  • StalkerWare – No
  • Private Files – Yes
  • Official Community Repository – Yes, Google 3D Warehouse
  • Instashare – From the warehouse, Google Buzz/Reader/Blogger/+, Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Delicious, MySpace, and various embed codes. Even for a 3D model version.
  • Collaborative Editing: Yes, via the warehouse
  • Official Tutorials  Great.
  • Community Tutorials – Terrible to Excellent. There are a lot of them.


  • How many tutorials/videos to build first project – About 30 minutes worth
  • Default Bkg Color – Gray! (But you get to choose)
  • Good for Computer Beginners – Only if they are dedicated
  • Requires 3 Button Mouse – No, but can be helpful
  • Real-world units – Yes, users choice
  • Numeric controls – Yes
  • WYSIWYG– Yes
  • Scripting – Yes Ruby Script
  • Plugins & Extensions – Yes, many


  • Rasters – Free: as flat uneditable things, yes. Pro and plugins might have more tools
  • 2D Vector – No. Pro and plugins might have more tools
  • Other 3D files – Free: DAE, KMZ, 3DS, DEM, DDF  / Pro: Also DWG, DXF (STL via plugin, untried)


  • Direct to STL – Nothing native (Plugin, untried)
  • 2D Rasters: JPEG, TIFF, PNG
  • 2D Vectors: Pro Only PDF, EPS, EPIX
  • 3D Vectors: Free KMZ, DAE / Pro: Also 3DS, DWG, DXF, FBX, OBJ, VRML, XSI
  • Adjust scale on output – No, unitls pre-indicated
  • Direct to Printing Service – No