The relatively simple, relatively free, CAD software SketchUp has been around since 2002, but probably didn’t begin achieving its fame until bought by Google in 2006 (although now it’s owned by a different company entirely). Bonnie Roskes, a DC-based designer, caught on to the program early on and has been writing books to teach people how to use SketchUp almost since its inception. She’s written an impressive number of volumes on the software, including the Google SketchUp Cookbook, published by O’Reilly Media. Now that 3D printing has also achieved mainstream status, Roskes has published a SketchUp Guide for 3D printing, titled Modeling with SketchUp for 3D Printing.
The 3D printing guide goes through step-by-step projects that readers can pursue to create fun 3D printed objects. The book, which can be purchased as a physical guide for $52.95 or as a .pdf for $27.95, begins with the basics, describing what 3D printing is, what types of materials home 3D printers use, and the various printing features you’ll need to be aware of when creating objects (things like rafts, support structures, and heated beds). Before getting readers into more complicated SketchUp projects, Roskes illustrates how to download 3D models and set them up for printing, including one-piece prints and multi-component prints.
Then, the author sets about instructing readers on how to create certain objects for 3D printing in SketchUp. Beginning with very basic objects, like multi-component name plates and a pencil holder, the author slowly works up to more elaborate items, such as 3D-printable tiles and puzzles. Soon the objects increase in SketchUp skill level, with Roskes going through such projects as a miniature house, lego bunk beds, a jewellery box, and a 3D-printed DNA structure.
If you’d like to learn more about SketchUp, but can’t afford one of her books, Roskes also has a blog that gives some good pointers about the software. Her company, 3DVinci, also offers some free material for instructors wishing to teach SketchUp to their students. Otherwise, you can find a number of SketchUp tutorials that involve 3D printing on YouTube. Of course, that only works if you have access to a computer and the Internet. If you don’t, you’re probably not reading this anyway.