Google Releases SketchUp 8

Nancy Anderson
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Google recently released the newest iteration of its SketchUp solid modeling package, SketchUp 8 is rich in features, and the Pro edition adds a lot of value to the presentation of your solid models. While not as powerful as most commercial packages, SketchUp 8 does offer an excellent set of features, including the most interesting (if you ask me), the 3D Warehouse.

The 3D Warehouse, as its name implies, is an online repository of solid models created and shared by other users. What’s more, it incorporates access control tools to allow secure collaboration with specified other users. This is the killer feature: No more creating models of commercial fasteners and brackets for incorporation into your model. They’re likely already in there. A quick search for the generic term ‘fastener’ turned up over 20,000 publicly available models. There are, of course, other uses, but modeling common parts is a bit of a pet peeve of mine.

The modeling itself is fairly straightforward -- Google provides a number of introductory tutorial videos through YouTube, and getting started created objects is almost trivial. My background is mostly with ProENGINEER, and it was a bit of an adjustment coming from its dimensioned-sketch orientation, but it’s an easy enough transition after you put in the time. The Solid Tools available in SketchUp Pro, however, extend into the realm of the more established packages, and offers the ability to suit your models more directly to direct digital manufacturing and 3D printing.

So, just go browse the 3D warehouse, and you’ll see that SketchUp 8 gives it users enough power to create almost anything. Watch the tutorial videos, and start making things right now, with no per-seat license fees.
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Mike Wrightly is mostly diesel fumes and duct tape; he grew up around heavy equipment, and holds a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering.

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