Open Letter to Google (Sketchup)

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11 Responses

  1. Funny, I thought you were gonna ask for less format lock-in, by permitting export to more than one filetype in the standard version. However, enhanced modelling is certainly a huge improvement and I’d love to see it reaching the community in a meaningful way. The price of the pro version really, really needs a change.

  2. You have my vote.
    I really like Sketchup. My favorite tool after OpenSCAD.

  3. Erik says:

    Built-in STL support would definitely be a huge improvement, perhaps that’s something to add to the list, though STL2.0 is in draft, and it might be better to support that right away than have another “soon to be legacy” format as an option. Collada is not that bad (though they should perhaps not obfusicate the file extension (e.g. allow you to save as .dae).
    Having a 3D printer, I think I would buy the pro version at a $ 100 price point (if it worked slightly better on Ubuntu in Wine).

  4. STL support is already available as a plugin. Download and Install and you can import and export STL.

  5. Erik says:

    Robert, you’re right. It’s not that hard. Still a shame that it’s not built in. The process from thought to print should be as short as possible, so being able to export to STL without too much trouble is definitely a benefit. But only with the CADspan plugin you can get a watertight model again, while designing it as a watertight would seem like a better option…

  6. J says:

    The BoolTools[1] plugin for Sketchup is $10 and does essentially the same thing as Solid Tools.

    You do need to model carefully, but it is it posible to create manifold models using SketchUp. The Solid Inspector[2] tool is a simple yet effective way to check a model for manifold.

    Sketchup does export directly to .dae in all versions.

    SketchUp’s biggest limitation in this areas is it’s lack of true Arc entities. Everything is exported as lines, so to get smooth curves you need to model using a higher segment count. But this adds geometry quickly, and can slow down sketchup.

    [1] http://www.smustard.com/script/BoolTools

    [2] http://forums.sketchucation.com/viewtopic.php?t=30504

  7. John Bacus says:

    Hi Erik,

    I’m happy to respond in a more formal way to your request, but I think you’re missing one key point that we could discuss briefly here. We have already included “Solids” in our free version of SketchUp 8– it is only the high level boolean operations (Intersect, Union, Subtract, Split and Trim) that we have reserved for our Pro users.

    Free users of SketchUp 8 can create “Solid Groups” and “Solid Components”, determine the volume of those entities and export them to .dae for further processing. Additionally, they can perform “Outer Shell” operations, which we judged to be the most relevant when pre-flighting a model for 3D printing.

    Additionally, we’ve exposed the two most critical functions (a manifold test and a volume calculation) through our freely-accessible Ruby API where 3rd party developers can access them when creating dedicated 3D printing plugins.

    I’m happy to discuss this in further detail if you like. We happen (also) to have an open channel for new feature requests in SketchUp available through the end of this month. The ideas you bring up here are important to SketchUp, and should be posted to “Questions and Ideas for Google SketchUp” so that others can see and vote on them.

    thanks-
    john
    .

    • Erik says:

      Hi John,

      Thank you for your reply! And for finding this post even before I sent it. It’s probably what can be expected for Google employees (You’ve got a Google Alert on your name, too?)

      I wasn’t aware of the solid features being in the free version too. This kind of makes my request mostly obsolete. Yet I think it’s really great to hear that you’re definitely keeping the DIY 3D printing community in mind.

      I will try to use the intended channel to voice the community’s other requests. Some of them will be pretty generic needs, such as being able to run more stable under wine, or even better a Linux port.

      Again, thanks for your reply, and let’s keep in touch!

      Erik

  8. Robert H says:

    I just bought alibre the other day. The personal edition is $99 and it seems WAY more suitable for designing precise 3D models than sketchup. Just my 2 cents, I’m just starting to dig in so don’t take my word for it, but something to look into. It’s not free, but neither are 3D printers.

    http://www.alibre.com/

  9. Wade Bortz says:

    I also use Alibre – it works very well for solid modelling, and the price was right.

    I’ve tried to use Sketchup several times in the past, and while it is relatively easy to model things in, I was never able to get it to export a format that I could slice with Skeinforge or the RepRap host. Without a compatible format for exchange, it’s not very useful.

    There are stl export plugins available, but none would run for me; it was easier in the end to just buy a reasonably priced package that did what I needed out of the box.

  10. Erik says:

    Alibre indeed seems like a good option. If I’m ever going to pay for something, that will probably be it. Rhino is very popular, but in the end it’s a mesh modeler, I believe. It does have scripting capabilities, though. Which I wouldn’t want to miss after having tasted OpenSCAD!