Hey SketchUp, It’s Been Awhile

When I first entered the world of 3D design over a decade ago, the one tool freely available at the time was SketchUp. With my love of architecture going back to my high school years, SketchUp felt very familiar and intuitive. Start with a floor plan and build up from there. Need an elevation plan? Look at it from all angles. Need exact measurements and objects to scale? No problem.

With the arrival of 3D printing in schools, I first looked to SketchUp, as it was what I knew. It seemed the logical choice at the time. Unfortunately, I found it lacking when it came to the actual printing of model files. There wasn’t an easy path for exporting as .STL, and I was just beginning to understand the print world as it relates to 3D. Tinkercad became my tool of choice.

After almost a year of online learning and virtually no 3D printing happening across classrooms, the idea of SketchUp has resurfaced, and the platform sure has changed. There is now a fully-functional web-based version for schools that integrates with Google Workspaces so that students can launch the product directly from the Google apps menu. Exporting files for 3D printing couldn’t be easier with an option for .STL format.

Bird's eye view of a maker space design.
Bird’s Eye View of a plan for a school maker space.

Beyond the basic design elements that I was accustomed to with this platform, I can set up scenes with virtual walk-throughs from room to room. You can see an example of scenes set up below at the right.

Set up scenes for walk through purposes.
Set up different scenes so that viewers can perform a walk-through of the space.

Sharing is simple. With the SketchUp viewer software and app, viewers can navigate your design using a computer or mobile device (iOS or Android). There are also options for Oculus and Hololens for those looking to view through VR/AR/XR. Note that the Pro level subscription is required for VR/AR/XR on these devices and on mobile.

An animated walk-through of the maker space

With students currently working remotely, SketchUp for Schools is a viable solution for 3D work, particularly as it relates to architectural design. Access is free, sharing is simple, and the learning curve is relatively flat. As with Tinkercad, the use of a mouse is helpful.

If you are a current SketchUp user and are willing to share a project idea, I would love to hear from you. Please comment below.

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