How to Use SketchUp Make for 3D Design

Updated on March 14, 2018
eugbug profile image

Eugene is a qualified control/instrumentation engineer Bsc (Eng) and has worked as a developer of electronics & software for SCADA systems.

A 3D image of a switch designed in Google Sketchup
A 3D image of a switch designed in Google Sketchup | Source

Google SketchUp Make, a Simple to Use 3D Modeling CAD Package

There are several 3D CAD software applications available for high end, detailed design in the area of engineering and architecture. High powered software comes with a corresponding price tag which can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Examples of 3D CAD software are AutoCAD, Solid Works, and Solid Edge. Google SketchUp Make is a free software package which can be upgraded to the pro version (SketchUp Pro) for about $600. The free version is useful for simple 3D design of images, diagrams, and graphics for websites and can be used free of charge for home, personal and educational use.

While Google bought the company @Last Software which originally developed Sketchup, the application is currently owned by Trimble Navigation.

Glossary

CAD: Computer Aided Design. The use of computers and software to create a virtual design. The design could be as simple as a schematic drawing of an electrical circuit or PCB layout or a more sophisticated 3D model of a building or animated model of a machine. A CAD design can be easily modified compared to a traditional pencil or pen and ink drawing, or real world 3D prototype

3D Modeling: The process of creating a virtual 3 dimensional object within a software package.

Rendering: Adding colors and textures to the surface faces of a 3D object

Wire Frame: A technique for creating and displaying 3D objects using frameworks of lines. Wire frame images display quicker than rendered images which was important before the days of fast computer systems and graphics cards

Ray Tracing: Creating photo realistic images by simulating the effects of interactions of light rays with objects in a virtual scene

A wire frame image
A wire frame image | Source

Designing a Switch - Start With 2D and Extrude

In the video below, I draw a rocker switch. Design involves drawing primitive 2D shapes initially, and then "pushing" and "pulling" to extrude the shape into a 3D solid. Once the shape is created, it can be exported to a JPG file.

Where Can I Download Google SketchUp?

You can download it at this link http://www.sketchup.com/download

Questions & Answers

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      • Blond Logic profile image

        Mary Wickison 

        8 months ago from Brazil

        I love the fact that it looks so easy to create those models and can think of many uses for it.

        To get a commercial license, to sell the designs is quite expensive though.

      • eugbug profile imageAUTHOR

        Eugene Brennan 

        4 years ago from Ireland

        Yes it's quite useful for basic 3D CAD. It doesn't have the sophistication of Solid Works or similar fancy packages but is useful for creating graphics for websites.

      • grand old lady profile image

        Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

        4 years ago from Philippines

        This is a very interesting article and the tool is fantastic. I still don't know what to use it for, but I always see it being used on shows like Flip This House, so it's nice to know that the tool is accessible and free.

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