Building a PVC Geodesic Dome with SketchUp

Here on the SketchUp team, we’re DIYers at heart -- we like solving design problems and building things. For a while now, we’ve had a big presence at Maker Faire. We go because we truly enjoy nerding out with fellow makers and dreaming up our own design-build projects. At World Maker Faire in New York last month, we decided to cook up a pair of large geodesic domes, because, well, why not?

Who wouldn’t want to build a geodesic lair out of PVC pipe?

Actually, the point of our exhibit -- besides being a practice run for a future Burning Man trip -- was to prove that SketchUp makes planning and building team DIY projects easier and more fun. We enlisted the help of our good pal Eric Schimelpfenig of and set out to turn a pile of PVC pipe into two huge geodesic domes and some comfortable furniture. Here’s how we pulled it off:

After exploring geodesic designs on 3D Warehouse -- and a lot of discovery on Domerama -- we jumped into SketchUp for conceptual design. Satellite imagery for our site plan demonstrated that two twenty-foot diameter domes would fit perfectly, and a simple massing model proved that 3V ⅝ domes -- with their extra head room -- would provide plenty of height and floor space for people and furniture.

Once we knew the defining characteristics of our dome, we churned out the strut lengths using Domerama’s geodesic calculator and then advanced the design using Dynamic Components to create a fabricatable model. From there, we employed generate report and some spreadsheet magic to crank out a cut-list for our PVC stockpile from Home Depot.

Using the proportional math from Domerama’s 3V ⅝ dome calculator, we built a dynamic component that uses dome diameter and hub protrusion as inputs for automating a 3V dome. You can download this dynamic geodesic model on 3D Warehouse.

As our fabrication captain, Eric got to turn our SketchUp model into a collection of ready-to-assemble parts. Using some simple jigs to speed up the cutting and drilling, he churned through 1,600 feet of pipe -- about a quarter-mile of PVC -- from his workshop in Massachusetts. Rounding out the list, he ordered up the awesome purpose-built connector hubs from Sonostar and grabbed a giant bag of nuts and bolts to keep things from sliding apart. With just two days to go before assembly, he loaded 152 connectors, 322 pipes, two ladders, and a dozen hammers into a van we’re pretty sure he had permission to borrow.

2014-09-10 19.54.51.jpg
Two geodesic domes and enough left-over pipe to spit out a few of these bad boys...

On-site at the New York Hall of Science, the pipe-laden van was met by a jet-lagged assembly crew of SketchUppers who’d only ever seen the geodomes in our working model. Over the course of a few hours, we assembled the two domes according to these hilarious yet exceedingly clear build instructions, courtesy of Eric and LayOut.

Banging pipes together at World Maker Faire. See more photos of our geodesic dome build here, or watch the time lapse of our build here.

The next day, our team hammered together several pieces of SketchUp-designed PVC furniture (generously contributed by our friends at FORMUFIT), and fitted vinyl tarps to the roof. We had designed the tarps to be a modular shading system, so that we could leave some sections of the dome exposed or cover everything up in case of crummy weather.

To derive the tarps from our SketchUp model, we drew out some basic gore-like polygons over the dome component and then used the Flattery extension to derive their dimensions for printing. The tarps were manufactured with grommets that allowed us to join and secure them with zip ties.

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 9.46.20 AM.png
Our tarping system was one of those simple ideas that was meant to work, but not be perfect. We anticipated (and desired) stretching in the tarp, so we modeled our gore polygons for stretched-out coverage, then laid the geometry flat with Flattery.

Throughout the weekend, thousands of attendees -- attracted by the awesome sight of our booth and the promise of shade -- wandered through our domes, where they were pumped full of SketchUp knowledge and slapped with these bracelets before being sent, disoriented, but not sunburned, back into the Faire.

We introduced a lot of people to SketchUp and Buckminster Fuller (not bad company, right?) over the weekend, and now we have a pair of geodesic domes to keep us cool at the next team picnic.

The SketchUp team on good behavior at Maker Faire. We also did a lot of this.

Posted by Mark Harrison and Andrew Strotheide

Looking to build your own geodesic? Explore the links above, then download this dynamic component model and these build instructions to get started. Be sure to Tweet us the pics if you pull it off!

Permalink | Links to this post | 0 comments

Create instant photoreal snapshots with Visualizer

Simple, fast, fun: three adjectives we often use to describe SketchUp. They also fit pretty well for Visualizer, an extension that provides instant photographic previews of SketchUp models and exports fast, clean photoreal images. You know, delicious stuff like this:

Sydney Opera House0014.jpg
3D Warehouse model of the Sydney Opera House, processed in about 60 seconds with Visualizer.

I’ve been playing around with Visualizer since 3D Basecamp 2014, so this post is a collection of my impressions to date, and a few tips I’ve picked up on.

The first time you activate Visualizer, it feels a bit like turning on a photographic assistant inside SketchUp -- someone following your modeling work, quickly re-painting your sketches into polished scenes… while you’re orbiting and sketching. For me, it was a new -- and for sure, fun -- experience to tune into this instant feedback. (Incidentally, Visualizer costs $19.99 and starts with a 7-day free trial, so in a few clicks you can download it and see for yourself).

You’ll notice right away that Visualizer makes it one-click simple to create slick photorealistic images. We’re not talking about jaw-dropping renderings that take four hours to process in a server farm. The Visualizer team hasn’t built a rendering engine here; they’ve built, well, a visualization tool.

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 3.25.11 PM.png
Visualizer’s controls are practical and simple. Click the lock icon at the bottom to prepare an image. Once it’s processed, click the camera icon to export. (Model: Arduino Uno by Engineer Zero)

In fact, one of Visualizer’s more interesting uses is that it offers pretty quick photoreal previews of model compositions while you’re creating them. So whether you’re exporting images directly or planning to work up a high quality render in an entirely different (and probably more expensive) application, Visualizer is definitely useful for composing the SketchUp scenes you want to use and spinning up an instant photorealistic preview that may inform choices you make later on.

Sydney Opera House0018.jpg
Colors, textures, shadows: Visualizer has a knack for making them pop. (Model: Fish Pagoda by Sprucetree.)

The Visualizer window scales to any size and can quickly match SketchUp’s viewport pixel-for-pixel. It’s tricky at first to figure out the best place to situate the window relative to your SketchUp model so that it doesn’t block your workspace. Ultimately, I settled on the upper right hand of my screen. I often choose to minimize Visualizer after locking the image for processing (more on that in a bit).

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 3.48.10 PM.png
Visualizer can pin to the top of your desktop, so you can neatly preview your image while composing it in SketchUp. (Model: Wine rack unit by PFritz)

I can’t pretend to fully understand how Visualizer’s ray tracing technology works, but I can vouch for the nerdy brilliance of the Visualizer team. These guys are pretty much obsessed with making Visualizer as simple as possible, and I found that effort coming through while using it. (If you happen to be interested in what’s happening under Visualizer’s hood, check out this interesting post from their parent company, Imagination Technologies).

Chatting with James and Suguru from Visualizer at 3D Basecamp, I got the sense that they were inspired by the camera app on smartphones (something almost everyone already knows how to use). And it turns out, that’s pretty much how Visualizer works. A simple click on the camera icon captures whatever’s on your screen and exports to JPG or PNG (with an option for transparent background).

Side note: Generally, I have no clue where files get saved to on my computer, but right next to Visualizer’s camera icon is a quick link to the folder where my images live. It’s also easy to customize directories from there, so people like me can easily clutter up their desktops.

Feeling frisky? Play around with Visualizer's auto-focus and exposure settings.

A few other tips I’ve picked up on in my adventures with Visualizer:

  • Definitely use the image lock tool... a lot. For the highest quality images, it’s best to lock an image and let Visualizer decide when your image is ready. Visualizer will notify you when the image is fully baked. On my Macbook Pro, I’ve found that most images are done in two to three minutes.

  • SketchUp’s time of day slider is a secondary control panel for Visualizer. As far as I can tell, Visualizer light simulation takes its cues entirely from SketchUp shadow settings, so a lot of the nuance and warmth that you bake in Visualizer comes from SketchUp shadow settings.

  • There's even more control over Visualizer shadows in SketchUp’s Entity Info window. There, you can toggle a group or component’s ability to cast and receive shadows, and Visualizer will respect that choice.

  • Take the time to set-up and save your desired aspect ratios. It makes managing Visualizer’s window size pretty darn easy when you can immediately resize to the image dimensions of your desire.

There’s a bit more to explore in Visualizer -- you can tinker with camera focus and exposure too -- but I found Visualizer at its best when I kept things simple. Funny, SketchUp often works that way too.

Posted by Mark Harrison, SketchUp team

Permalink | Links to this post | 0 comments

Modeling with architectonic tile: a conversation with Tilelook

Based in the Veneto region of northern Italy, Tilelook is a technology services company that works with manufacturers in the bathroom flooring, coverings, and furnishings world. Now, as a 3D Warehouse content developer, Tilelook makes those products available to SketchUp designers around the world via 3D Warehouse. We spoke with Marco Rossi from Tilelook about their recent work building out the 3D Warehouse catalog for FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE tiles from the manufacturer Ceramica Sant’Agostino and designer Philippe Starck.

Ciao, Marco. Can you tell us a bit about who’s behind the FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE catalog you recently posted to 3D Warehouse?

Ceramica Sant'Agostino produces floor and wall products made of ceramic and grès, with a range that covers both interiors and exteriors for residential and public use. The company has a 50+ year history in the ceramic tile sector and a reputation for high quality, cutting edge technology, and respect for the environment.
The collaboration between the creative genius of French designer Philippe Starck, and the immense industry know-how of Ceramica Sant’Agostino, has resulted in a project called FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE.

The FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE modeling set by Philippe Starck (modeled by Tilelook)

What’s unique about FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE?

FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE represents a new vision in the tile world, brought to architects by an iconic designer. It’s a new territory, a different point of view: the wall tile leaves the two-dimensionality to “invent” the three-dimensional.

The idea behind it is to move beyond the decorative nature of tile as simply a wall covering and use it a modular element that is part of the architecture. With FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE, the wall covering takes on a totally new potential: from customary decorative element to architectonic system.

Who will be interested in the FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE tiles you’ve posted on behalf of Ceramica Sant’Agostino and Philippe Starck?

SketchUp users who are professional architects and interior designers will definitely be interested in these tiles for their designs. Students who are studying architecture and interior design will also probably be interested in using these tiles in projects. Maybe even amateur designers who are looking to explore ideas for an upcoming project will like to use these too!

Do you have any advice to SketchUp users who want to best utilize these tiles in their SketchUp model?

As Philippe Starck has said, these tiles should be treated as more than just a decorative element. Unlike traditional tile represented as a SketchUp material, the FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE models give SketchUp designers the freedom to create their own 3D tile designs. Each element of the FLEXIBLE ARCHITETURE line is represented as its own SketchUp model, so designers can combine elements to create their own unique combination and apply them to their designs.

Have you posted any other tile catalogs to the 3D Warehouse besides the FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE catalog?

In addition to the FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE catalog, we’ve also uploaded the Folli Follie catalog by Ceramiche Brennero and Tavolato by Casalgrande Padana. We’re working on posting more content soon!

Can you tell us a little bit more about your company Tilelook?

Tilelook is both a technology and services company. The Tilelook web application is our main technology. Users of it can find over 60,000 tile and bathroom products by 200 well-known brands from 23 countries around the world. They can also create and share photo-realistic rooms decorated with the authentic tile products . This is what makes Tilelook unique: it’s an ecosystem where all the stakeholders in the tile industry -- manufacturers, distributors, resellers, architects, designers and private users -- can benefit from being part of the Tilelook community.

In addition to posting content to 3D Warehouse, we’ve also created a Tilelook extension for SketchUp that accesses the Tilelook web application. Users can find this extension, along with an instructional video about how it works, on Extension Warehouse.

Finally, from a services standpoint, we’re interested in building out SketchUp models of bathroom tile, coverings or furnishings for manufacturers in Italy and around the world as part of the 3D Warehouse content developer network.

Grazie, Marco.

If you’re interested in getting your tile or bathroom products built for 3D Warehouse by Tilelook, you can find Tilelook on the 3D Content Developer page, or visit their website here.

Posted by Chris Cronin, Business Development Manager

Permalink | Links to this post | 0 comments

Details, details, details: A conversation with the International Masonry Institute

The International Masonry Institute (IMI) is a partnership between the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) and their contractors, promoting quality masonry construction. The IMI offers quality training and professional education for masonry contractors, and free technical assistance to the design and construction communities. We spoke with Scott Conwell, IMI’s Director of Industry Development and Technical Service, about the 3D Warehouse collection of masonry details that he has created and shared for SketchUp modelers everywhere.

It looks like you know your way around SketchUp. What was your first reaction to SketchUp?

I was amazed at how simple the interface was, and I loved how I could make value judgements in 3D very quickly. I only had one goal when learning SketchUp Pro: to draw masonry details. I quickly learned that SketchUp was the perfect tool for that. The type of views that SketchUp is capable of generating were ideal to show exactly what I wanted to show in my drawings. The scale of our masonry details is very appropriate for a SketchUp model. In other words, I can put as much detail as I need into my model -- wall ties, sealant joint at flashing overlaps -- and it all appears very clear in the final drawing.

What was the catalyst for deciding to put IMI’s detail models on the 3D Warehouse, and give them away for free?

There are lots of manufacturer details out there that have pretty good details; however, they are to the exclusion of other components. Masonry is a system. For example, you may find good brick drawings, but there’s more to a wall than bricks. We want to show the whole masonry system, and represent all components from a constructibility standpoint. These are reviewed and developed with input from master craftworkers that really care and are passionate about their craft; their hand is obvious in these models.

As far as providing them on the 3D Warehouse for anyone to download; well, there’s no reason not to. Our goal is to educate architects and designers about masonry, and also to highlight the skills of the trained union bricklayers and contractors.

The IMI technical team decides how to show certain components that best fit the particular detail, and thinks about how to compose the notes so they can be adapted for general use. These SketchUp models are an embodiment of ideas, and we wanted to put these ideas out there. If someone sees them, we hope they might rethink the importance of how the masonry components are put together, and who is skilled and qualified to build with these materials.

How do these details compare to traditional architectural details? Why is 3D important here?

We are not just providing a detail, we’re teaching someone how to design so an assembly can be constructed. The unique ability to modify and customize these details is powerful. For example, anyone can go into these models and copy/paste various components for use in another type of assembly.

Additionally, you have the assurance that these can be built. Unfortunately, there are plenty of 2D details out there on manufacturers’ web sites and in their literature that are not constructible! In the IMI details, you can really see how each component relates to the other in three dimensions. Until you see it in 3D, you don’t really have a good idea of what’s happening. These are not just functional; this format shows how they can be efficient to construct.

An example of a base of wall detail with the Layers window open. Note that you can turn layers on and off to get a better look at how these assemblies come together.

Who might be interested in these 3D models?

The details started out as being primarily for architects and engineers. However, we’re finding that they’re being used as teaching tools in many colleges and universities, and also in IMTEF’s (International Masonry Training and Education Foundation) apprenticeship training centers where the bricklayers, tile setters, and other masonry craftworkers are trained. We want to advocate good design and good construction practices, and each detail is created with that in mind.

Did any 3D Warehouse content aid you in creating these details?

In terms of finding useful ancillary components to go into my models; I have downloaded quite a few items that have saved me countless hours of modeling! A chair rail and crown molding come to mind, and I’ve also found some great textures embedded in the models people have uploaded. That’s where I got my plywood texture you’ll find on the sheathing of some of our masonry veneer details, as well as on some of the ceramic tile details. If I have the choice to draw something from scratch or search for it on the 3D Warehouse, I’m going to the Warehouse. Over the years I’ve painstakingly drawn many brick, block, stone components, special shapes, wall ties, anchors, you name it -- and now that they’re uploaded to the 3D Warehouse, I hope other SketchUp users find them, download them, and benefit from them.

Are there any techniques you use that you’d like to share?

In terms of style, I made the decision early on to go with an all white background, no horizon, no shadows, hard lines with no extensions, and the use of textures judiciously. This is to keep the focus on the model and the information it’s conveying, rather than a sketchy or photorealistic style. These are not meant to be photorealistic; they are details to communicate constructibility. By its very nature, masonry is a modular, repetitive element, so it only makes sense to draw a brick or a block once and then copy it. Therefore, mastery of groups and components is necessary.

IMI's Adhered Veneer - Stone Veneer detail makes good use of textures.

I always approach my models with one or two primary views in mind, so I peel back the wall’s materials strategically to optimize how the information is shown in the desired view. Sometimes a single model will generate more than one masonry detail. For example, a window jamb, window head, and window sill detail would all be generated from a single model of that window in a masonry wall -- so I make pretty good use of Scenes in SketchUp.

Do you have any advice for other SketchUp users that might want to follow your lead?

Well, I have a 15-year old son who has been using SketchUp since he was about 9. I always encouraged him to practice, and he’s actually getting very good at it. He built a model of an airplane that I was totally impressed with! His own logo on the wings, and all! I encouraged him to view the tutorials online, and I think that’s where he picked up a lot of tips.

Always respect the scale and draw things actual size. Don’t try to show too much information in your model. Keep in mind the desired view, and show just the right amount of information appropriate for that view. Have fun with textures; you’re not limited to the default textures in the Materials Browser. Try a Google Image search and download some fun ones!

Ed. note: There are a variety of other places you can explore to find textures. You can borrow textures from other models found on the 3D Warehouse (as Scott previously mentioned), use a subscription service like FormFonts, or use photos -- your own photos can be a great way to introduce the right texture/material into your SketchUp model.

Finally, have fun using SketchUp. It’s rewarding to learn new techniques and see your skills improve, and to get more efficient with your workflow. The most fun of all is the feeling of accomplishment when you’ve modeled something well, when it looks good, and it’s able to successfully graphically communicate your ideas. SketchUp makes that easy.

Posted by Josh Reilly, SketchUp Team

Permalink | Links to this post | 2 comments

Let’s have a discourse about SketchUp

“My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation...”

Jane Austen

There’s something about SketchUp that activates people. From the early days, online SketchUp communities have grown and thrived. When new platforms for discussion and sharing pop up (such as SketchUcation, Google+, and Facebook), SketchUp users seem to flock to it, wanting helpful, friendly conversation. We’ve often wondered why SketchUp brings architects, artists, educators, and others from all over the world to engage in great discussions about this simple but powerful 3D software. My theory is that SketchUp is a creative tool where the output is as varied as the unique people behind the mouse. People like to share their creations with others, and that sharing tends to evolve the conversation into techniques and solving problems. A shared passion is born.

During SketchUp’s time with Google we went through four forum platforms, each with their own set of benefits and challenges. We want to provide the very best home for the online community, but I don’t think we’ve cracked that nut just yet. That’s why I’m very pleased to announce the latest incarnation of the SketchUp Forums:

After nine years of posting in our forums, I really think we have something special here. The new SketchUp Forum is powered by Discourse, which rethinks the way online communities interact with each other. According to co-founder, Jeff Atwood, “[t]he freedom to easily one-click install and run a discussion community for a topic you love is an essential part of the wild, chaotic, vibrant “let your freak flag fly” formula of the Internet that we've always known and loved.” The philosophy behind this new forum platform is about creating open, honest, and well-mannered discussions about whatever topics come up.

The Google Product Forum for SketchUp which has served us well over the past four years will be put into an “archive” mode soon which means that no new posts or replies could be created. However, the forum will stay open as a read-only resource until mid-October.

There’s a lot more that I can say about the SketchUp Forum, but I think the best way understand what’s new is to see for yourself. You’ll find many familiar faces from the SketchUp team as well as long standing members of the community. Come on over and say “hi.” Be sure to read the Welcome Post for help getting started.

Tommy Acierno, on behalf of the SketchUp team

Ed. note: Want to kick the tires on the new SketchUp Forums? Try cutting and pasting a 3D Warehouse URL into a Forum topic thread you're creating. It's always better to show than tell.

Permalink | Links to this post | 3 comments

Using Material Extractor to grab textures from SketchUp models

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my dream cottage. I’m hoping to find a lot within a 10 minute walk of Lake Huron to build on within the next 45 years, you know, at that time of life when people build cottages. I’m not sure what this cottage is going to look like, but I do know how I want it to feel. It turns out 3D Warehouse is a pretty good place for me to dream. I sometimes browse to get a feel for different textures that might spark interior design ideas. Now, I’d just like to have all those materials  handy when the time comes to design my cottage.

As it happens, Christina Eneroth’s Eneroth Material Extractor extension is a pretty great tool for for curating textures. Christina has been modeling in SketchUp for over 10 years now, and is one of the more prolific developers on Extension Warehouse. You can check out all of her SketchUp tools here.

For now, let’s just take a look at Material Extractor. I’ll start with an inspiring living room I found on 3D Warehouse, with the goal of creating a texture palette I can re-use in the future.

Living Room downloaded from the 3D Warehouse

When I run Christina’s extension, it will grab every texture in the group or component I’ve selected. In this case, the living room is one big component, so I only have to click once to grab every texture in the model. I could be more discerning by only selecting certain objects within this component, but indeed, I would like all of the textures in this model. Now, it’s time to run Material Extractor; once installed, you’ll find it under Plugins > Extract Materials.

Plugin menu to save Materials

Automatically, the ‘Save Materials’ box opens, prompting me to save the textures from the component I’ve selected. Importing the extracted texture palette (which is saved as a SketchUp component) into any other model is the final step. I can now work with this palette by opening the materials window (Window > Materials) and selecting the ‘Colors In Model’ to apply any of these textures.

What’s so great about this whole process is that I can import this material file into any project, because it’s saved as its own .skp. Once I’ve imported this .skp into any model, those textures are handy to me in the Materials Browser.

Texture palette next to the component it was saved from.

Thanks to Christina’s extension, an entire universe of textures in 3D Warehouse is at your disposal. If you’re curious about any of her other scripts, check out Eneroth3 on Extension Warehouse.

Deana Rhodes, SketchUp Team

Permalink | Links to this post | 0 comments

Prosthetics and 3D Printing: the design thinking behind FidoHand

It’s not very often that people create things for the betterment of others they’ve never met before. We recently got wind of a San Francisco fellow who did just that. Inspired by the Robohand project, Dan Bodner created FidoHand: a six-piece 3D printed prosthesis powered by wrist movement for children missing fingers. We talked with Dan about what inspired him to make FidoHand a reality.

A FidoHand fitted to Mary in the San Francisco bay area. Check out local news coverage of FidoHand here.

Origins of a community-inspired 3D printed prosthesis

“I’m really kind of a tinkerer, I have been my whole life,” says Dan Bodner. Dan is also an avid follower of new technology, including 3D printing. He was intrigued when he heard of the Robohand project featured by MakerBot last year: “There were two players in the original design: Richard Van As, a master carpenter in South Africa and Ivan Owen, a mechanical prop maker in Washington state.”

Owen and Van As developed Robohand with two 3D printers provided by MakerBot. Parents who have children with missing fingers often contact Richard in hopes of making their kids’ lives a bit easier.

Iterating on the design

After learning about Robohand, Dan began thinking how he could design his own 3D printed prosthesis. “It all began through my friend,” he said, a friend at a local Bay Area hospital. She is a doctor who works with children in need of a solution like this.

FidoHand during 3D printing. Check out local news coverage of FidoHand here.

Dan received SketchUp files from a MakerBot designer who had done some of his own modifications to Robohand. “I stayed with SketchUp, because I started with SketchUp. I had the building blocks there,” Dan explained. He didn’t know much about SketchUp before starting the project, so he learned 3D modeling from scratch to design FidoHand. “It looked easy, but to make a printable model took a lot of practice.”

FidoHand in SketchUp.

SketchUp’s Extension Warehouse was very helpful along the way, “Solid Inspector was absolutely necessary,” says Dan, “Forget about anything if you don’t have it.” [(Ed.) Somewhere Thom Thom is doing a jig right now.] Dan also used SketchUp STL to generate STL files for his MakerBot. Dan added that a 3Dconnexion mouse helped as well: “You use the left hand to orbit/pan/zoom in 3D and the right for designing.”

Design-thinking for 3D printed prosthetics

The obstacle Dan wanted to overcome was how to distribute 3D prosthetics to people and not have to be physically present to fit them. “There is a great volunteer effort called e-NABLE that helps fit 3D printed prosthetics for children,” Dan says. But he wanted to simplify the process even further.

Dan started by simplifying the design: FidoHand went from a fifty to six-piece design over the course of eleven months of design iterations. The reduction of part numbers is important for a number of reasons: in particular fewer parts means easier assembly and better structural integrity. “I tried to keep all of the parts in a single file, just spread out,” he said when he spoke about his SketchUp file organization. Minor changes were tracked by making parts into components, copying them, and setting them to the side in the SketchUp file. When a new major change was needed, Dan made a new version of the file. He chuckled saying, “I made fifty-plus versions of the file. If I completely screw up or go the wrong direction, I can start over.”

Iterations of FidoHand. Check out local news coverage of FidoHand here.

Dan also developed his own custom fit process. Each FidoHand starts with a few easy measurements from the recipient.

What’s next for FidoHand?

A little girl in Louisiana will receive the second FidoHand in the coming weeks, so Dan is waiting to hear how that goes (and we’ll be calling back to see too). On August 5th, Dan will be speaking at the University of San Francisco in front of the Pediatric Device Consortium, which is sponsored in part by the FDA. There he hopes to gain insights and advice from an interdisciplinary team of professionals on ways to improve FidoHand. “This is really a pivotal point in the development of humankind. The combination of SketchUp and a 3D printer is so empowering for people like me that always have ideas.”

Posted by Deana Rhodes, SketchUp Team

Permalink | Links to this post | 4 comments

SketchUp Mobile Viewer: now available for Android tablets

Remember a few months back when we launched the SketchUp Mobile Viewer app for iOS? Well, today, we're happy to tell you that an Android version of the SketchUp Mobile Viewer is now available on the Google Play Store.

Say hello to the new SketchUp Mobile Viewer for Android

Version 1.0 of the Android viewer is officially available for devices with a 7-inch or larger screen size, running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or above. It is highly recommended that your device have at least 1024Mb of RAM.

So, Androiders (that's a thing, right?): the entire 3D Warehouse—artisan armchairs, double-hung windows, Hello Kitty 777’s and anything else you can imagine—is waiting for you to mutli-touch it on the SketchUp Mobile Viewer. Go ahead: orbit to your heart’s content!

Posted by the SketchUp Team

Permalink | Links to this post | 14 comments

Like it or not: ratings are back in 3D Warehouse

Today, we’re glad to announce that we’ve implemented a new, cleaner like-based “rating” system for 3D Warehouse.
Fig 1.png

Now, you can "like" models in order to upvote them and store them in your liked models tab
Model courtesy of samothrace41

As you already know, 3D Warehouse is an amazing collection of models of almost anything and everything in the world—from minions to ZZ Top. But sometimes finding the right model can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. User ratings are important signal about a model that lets you know whether other users have vouched for its greatness!

When we re-launched 3D Warehouse earlier this year, there were a few things missing. Perhaps the most commonly asked-about feature, was the old ratings system.

The task of implementing ratings on the new 3D Warehouse gave us the opportunity to re-think the measure of model quality we wanted to capture. Ultimately, when we took a close look at our old 5-star rating system we came to the conclusion that 5 stars was about 4 too many.

When we looked at the data, about 85% of the ratings were either 5-star or 1-star. By in large, people either like a model, or they don’t. This finding wasn’t that surprising since the criteria for 2, 3, and 4-star ratings probably varies from person to person. For your information, with this new like system, we also migrated all of the historical ratings. Any existing ratings that were 3-stars or better were converted into a “Like.”

Another interesting factoid: it turns out that the #1 source of abuse reports from the old Warehouse were from people who filed complaints about their models being rated 1-star. We like the idea of people using ratings to give each other a pat on the back, and acknowledge each other for uploading great stuff. We’re not as fired up about trolls and bullies who cruise around the site and harass others.

We also took into consideration the notion that star rating systems ask a lot from people. After all, your idea of a model that’s deserving of a 4-star rating is probably different than my idea of a 4-star rating. Unfortunately, the subjectivity that goes into the in between ratings often lead to an ambiguous measure of quality.

The new system is simple: you either like something, or not. Your praise for someone else’s work still helps other people find it better, and if a model isn’t to your liking, not up-voting it doesn’t -- and no one’s feelings get hurt.

Even better, liking a model now has an upside for the “liker” as well. When you sign into your 3D Warehouse account and go to your My Warehouse page, you’ll see a new tab for “Liked Models” (see Fig 2) making it easy to get to the models you like time and time again.

Fig 2.png
Fig 2. Keep track of models you like with the Liked Models Tab

You might also notice that a Likes stat has been added to the Model info panel (see Fig 3-1) – and it’s click-able. If you click the Likes link, a panel will slide out from the right side of the screen, containing the list of users who liked that model (see Fig 3-2). You can also see how many models each user has liked and click through to their profile page to see the models listed under their Liked Models tab.

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 12.59.00 PM.png
Fig 3. Find the likes stat in the model info panel. Click on “Likes” to find out which users have liked the model.

Lastly, we’ve also added Most Liked as a sort option for search results, so you can now filter your search results for model quality, as measured by the 3D Warehouse community. This is slightly different than the Popularity sort, which is based on download statistics.

We think this new system is a bit easier and maybe even friendlier for everyone, thereby encouraging more liking of more things. Hooray for love; ain’t it grand?

Posted by Mike Tadros, Product Manager

Permalink | Links to this post | 6 comments

Create natural shading with trellis components from 3D Warehouse

SketchUp’s geo-location and shadow tools make it easy to investigate sun control options that affect building energy consumption, daylighting and overall environmental impact. Building designers increasingly consider green building facades comprised of trellis systems with appropriate plants as a natural shading option. Well designed trellis systems can reduce cooling loads, create privacy screens that also look great and create lush environments that add to building aesthetics.

Modular trellis system

For over 20 years, greenscreen® has been providing an innovative modular trellis system for adding vertical landscape elements to any design. The basic building block for greenscreen® is a modular panel that can be used for endless variations of shapes and applications, including green walls, freestanding fences, horizontal shade structures, unique column forms and planter adaptations. With over 7,000 project examples, these combinations for building and landscape design are now common elements all over the world.

Find greenscreen®’s trellis system models on 3D Warehouse.

greenscreen® offers numerous variations including green walls, freestanding fences, and horizontal shade structures. 

greenscreen® called on landscape architect and SketchUp expert Daniel Tal to create its SketchUp models. By working with an industry expert, greenscreen® produced models that look great and operate smoothly while accurately representing its real-world products. Best of all, greenscreen®’s SketchUp models are completely free!

greenscreen® models in 3D Warehouse 

Each greenscreen® component comes with high-poly and low-poly models. The high-poly models are great for renderings and estimating light transmission. The low-poly models are easy to use for site planning, layout, and general modeling speed.

Visit the 3D Warehouse today to download all of the greenscreen® models and anything else that inspires you.

Posted by Mark Lauricello, Business Development Manager

Permalink | Links to this post | 0 comments