View Full Version : Sketchup

03-13-2006, 12:06 PM
This is a piece of software that I have found absolutely invaluable over the years. I use it for all my presentations and I spoke briefly of it at last years jamboree. It's perfect for conceptualizing your ideas....is more intuitive than Rhino (which I use and love) and now with version 5, has added some pretty neat tricks.... mainly the ability to export files in .3ds and .dxf among others. I just built and cut a complicated quoin piece for a local architectural firm....and it performed flawlessly. I recommend this program for all Shopbotters working in 3D....and even if not, it's the best presentation software I know of for selling your ideas. $499.00 at Sketchup.com....with a 30 hour real time free test drive....it's worth a look....D

03-13-2006, 10:56 PM
Darrell, I've been using Sketchup for about 2 years, and I agree with everything you have said. It is the easiest to learn design software that I have ever used. Additionally, the User Forums on the Sketchup website are very active, informative, and supportive.

Although I do not currently own a ShopBot, I am considering purchasing one. I have thought about the possibility of using Sketchup as my 3D design program, but have found very little in either the ShopBot or Sketchup forums that addresses this option. I'm encouraged that you have been able to design in Sketchup and export to your cutting software. I have experimented with exporting from Sketchup to a trial version of MilWizard, and it appears to work, but since I don't have a CNC router, I've not been able to actually cut anything. Exactly what software are you using?

I would urge anyone who designs in 3D to have a look at this software. You can download a full working version of the software and use it free for 8 hours (program time) to help you decide if it will suit your needs.


03-14-2006, 10:02 AM
Matt and Darrell,
I took a look at the Sketchup site and was curious how it worked with freeform designs. Looks good for technical illustrations and the like but if I wanted to draw a semi realistic flower or flowing ribbon or a grizzly bear will the Sketchup software relate?


03-14-2006, 10:19 AM
I have been using Sketchup for a while (versions 4 and 5) and feel that it is best suited for more abstract/conceptual drawings (it is great and very efficient at this). If you want real detail, it might be easier to create with other software.

I will look for (and post) some pictures of objects that I first "sketched" in Sketchup and then refined in Rhino.


03-14-2006, 11:00 AM
In the beginning, Sketchup was indeed more suited to abstract and primitive forms. Even at that, I thought it was fantastic for doing presentations in true 3D.....often right in front of client. (That practice went away quickly as clients began to believe there was nothing so special about working in 3D.)
Now, with version 5, Sketchup has added tools like the "Sandbox" and "Follow Me" That allow you to shape and construct complex objects like other far more complicated programs. I don't think there is much that I can do in Rhino, that I can't duplicate in Sketchup now. And, while Rhino 4 is somewhere in the future, Sketchup is growing at a MUCH faster pace.
The best thing about Sketchup is the interface....it's plain fun. While some textures such as "Hair" are not available for doing a Grizzly Bear, anything else you would need is there. A semi-realistic Flower is no problem....nor is a Ribbon.

The Banana Plant below was rendered entirely in Sketchup and is a working 3D model which can be exported in .3ds format for toolpathing. You would obviously want to disassemble it first for the best cutting strategy....not a problem!....D


03-14-2006, 12:45 PM
In an interesting aside....I thought perhaps Artcam would snap up this very innovative company....I was pretty sure someone would....someone has. It was announced moments ago today that Google has just bought Sketchup. I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.....but I'm sure it will accelerate growth and new features. I hope they don't mess it up....D

03-14-2006, 03:17 PM
Sketchup is a very good 3D modeling tool. It is easy to learn and the company provides good support and online tutorials. They also seem to conduct workshops all over the country if you are so inclined.
You can export your file as a .3ds, though this is not the default save. We import the .3ds files into ArtCam to do the tool pathing. I am pretty sure that the demo is fully functional, it just limits the number of saves that you have available.

03-14-2006, 04:41 PM
Attached are 3 drawings.
The first was done in sketchup in approx 15 mins.
The second/third were done in Rhino and took several hours.
I am much more experienced in Rhino, however find that Sketchup is great for initial concept drawings and I am sure that if I spent more time, I could use sketchup for even more detail.
Sketchup allows you to push and pull shapes, combine, twist, turn, etc, much as if you were drawing by hand.



03-14-2006, 04:49 PM
I use sketchup all the time for doing "what if" scenarios for layouts in our plant. It is a must have in my toolbox.

I also used it to draw all the required drawings for the city to build a 1200 sq ft addition to my home - ready to submit in less than a day and passed by the planning dept. first go!!

This is a jpeg pulled from Google earth with the Art In Motion buildings "pulled" up to view in relation to our surroundings - just one of a million cool things sketchup can do.

MKing (Unregistered Guest)
04-28-2006, 11:33 AM
I am interested in using Sketchup with my Shopbot. The project I am working on now requires that I "carve" out a 10" x 10" x 4.5" deep rectangular hole in an 8" thick piece of wood. The hole has a wavy bottom. I've designed it in Sketchup, and want to apply toolpaths using the software that came with the 'bot. I can't seem to figure out how to save the shape to get it to convert correctly. Should I save the "hole" as a solid shape? What fileformat should I use? To make matters more complicated, I'm desiging on a Mac.

04-28-2006, 07:59 PM
Update on Sketchup

04-28-2006, 09:24 PM
New free version: Google Sketchup, download from link.


05-01-2006, 06:15 PM
I just downloaded Google Sketchup and it seems easy to use. Since Google released the product has anyone figured out how to save a file that can be imported into Artcam? I only have the free version.


05-01-2006, 06:30 PM
Hi Terry

I use SketchUp for client proposals ...mainly because it is very easy to use, the Pro version exports DWG and DXF.


05-01-2006, 11:09 PM

Is it possible to do basic shapes in another probram and import into Pro 5?

What file extensions can you import?


05-02-2006, 12:53 PM
Sketchup will import and export DXF and 3DS Files. Most tooling softwares can work with these....Visualmill and Artcam specifically. I don't use Partwizard, so I don't know if it will import 3DS files (anyone?)....but that seems possible since it is based on Artcam. Sketchup has only just realized their value as a modeling tool for 3D Artists and that CNC users are beginning to adapt it. Look for them to add features in this direction as Sketchup 6 is released later this year. The purchase by Google is a bit alarming.....but perhaps they will not interfere too much.

Meanwhile, Sketchup should be in the arsenal of any Botter that needs to make drawings for contsruction or sales presentations. You can email the free viewer to anyone and this allows them to turn your model in all directions for inspection....but does not allow them to modify it in anyway. This is VERY effective in communication and closing the deal...D

05-02-2006, 06:32 PM
Thanks Darrell,

That's all very good information. I'm wanting to export my files as DXF from Flexi into ShetchUp, and then send one version of that drawing over to Photoshop for colors.

Photoshop really likes ai extensions. Do you think I can do this?

Much appreciation.


05-02-2006, 06:59 PM
Thank you Darrell, Joe....You can colour and render with SketchUp.