Home Shop Machining/CAD/SketchUp

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Trimble SketchUp for Home Shop Machining[edit | edit source]

SketchUp Make is free for non-commercial use, though there is a pro version that includes Layout. It is a direct 3D modelling system that is quite easy to use for most applications. It has a plug-in system to extend its capabilities and, with some of those plug-ins, can be quite useful for home shop machinists. However, it is not obvious that it is useful for such when first diving into it.

Advantages of SketchUp[edit | edit source]

  • It's free for hobby use.
  • The "inference engine" make it particularly quick for general use. The inference engine is simply a fancy way of saying the software attempts to guess what the user is trying to do and helps with that. For example, when moving an object near something else, it will snap to the most likely position. Another example is if you run the mouse pointer around the circumference of a circle, it will highlight the center of said for you, making it easy to choose.
  • In many ways, its operations are much like the real world. First draw the 'stock', a block or cylinder, and then remove bits of it much the way they would actually be removed.
  • It is very unstructured, to the point where units can be specified on the fly at any tolerance desired.

Disadvantages of SketchUp[edit | edit source]

  • It is fairly expensive for commercial use.
  • While it can work at any desired level of precision, this is not obvious nor enforced.
  • The inference engine can get in the way when doing atypical drawings.
  • It does not work like typical CAD programs and, as such can be hard for experienced 2D CAD users to deal with.
  • With all the snapping, it can start accumulating errors until measurements become off by an obscure level of precision and those errors can start to get in the way. Those errors can also be difficult to track down.
  • Without Layout, the paid part, it is difficult to get working drawings out of.
  • It needs additional plug-ins to work for home shop machinists.

Also See[edit | edit source]