My thoughts on the “Google SketchUp for 3D Printing” book

After all the discussion about SketchUp at the last Wellington Makers Meetup, I thought I’d share my thoughts on a book that’s particularly relevant to lots of us makers. Its titled “Google SketchUp for 3D Printing”, so we’re the target market. And… it’s not bad. It’s not great but it does the job.

I may be being too harsh here. Back when I was a coder for a living, I worked on the internals of CAD software (Parasolid, the geometry engine that’s inside all good high end CAD/CAM/CAE tools) and I got used to having copies Solid Works, Solid Edge, and NX on my desktop to play with. So I’m starting from the high end of parametric tools and working down. If you’ve never used a CAD tool before, then this will get you going and get you printing. Hell, chapter 2 is “First 3D Printout”, so there’s instant gratification.

The book covers the whole toolchain, from starting a drawing to ordering from Shapeways. There’s wide coverage of the tools & plug-ins that help SketchUp and Shapeways, such as Google’s 3D Warehouse, Google Earth, Thingiverse, and the SketchyPhysics physics plug-in. Our favourites, Ponoko, get a mention with a tutorial to create a test-tube holder.

Like plenty of technical books, it could do with the attention of a decent editor. Some explanations are over-detailed, some have gaps to keep you on your toes. But hell, it only costs US$40, or less than US$30 for the ebook. This book won’t turn you into a SketchUp guru, but it’ll get you making.

7 thoughts on “My thoughts on the “Google SketchUp for 3D Printing” book

  1. Thanks for the review

    Thanks Jez – I had been wondering about it.

    I can’t help but think back to some of the technical books I’ve bought over the years that were quickly rendered obsolete by version changes or history (Dreamweaver3 and IIS are two examples that spring to mind from my past bookshelf).

    Given the online resources available these days, do you think the book is specific and useful enough to justify the cash vs an hour or so researching existing tutorials?


    1. Re: Thanks for the review

      It’s focused in on one particular toolchain, but given they’re talking about the market leader in free 3D CAD and the market leader in 3D printing, I think it’ll be a useful thing for a while.

      (But yeah, the lifespan of technical books these days continues to plummet, so I expect I can’t complain too much about the cheap-as-chips editing and production.)

  2. Hrm, maybe I’ll check that out. I’d like to do some more rigorous mechanical design for my projects, but last time I tried using SketchUp I found it almost unusably unintuitive.

      1. I get the feeling that a lot of these CAD packages are great if you have both infinite patience and are not planning to construct the designed object.

        What I’d like would be a package that allowed for a library of standard parts and materials (e.g. a box, 2×4 timber, sheet ply) and let you place and cut those parts/materials as if you were using tools (only faster and more reversible).

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