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SketchUp Case Study: André Silva

This case study comes to us from André Silva. André is a freelancer in Lisbon, Portugal who mainly works on industrial projects and technical illustrations. He’s also currently working on some architecture and archaeology projects.

I was first introduced to SketchUp about three years ago, while I was searching for simple software to model mechanical devices in 3D. My first contact with it was not very promising and I felt a bit skeptical about its real possibilities to build good mechanical models -- mainly because it seemed to be a software intended to build models for Google Earth.

However, after some days of training, I became really surprised with how easy and fast someone can model almost anything with this software. As an example of simplicity, a chain link which took me about 4 hours to model with "Mechanical Desktop" (an Autodesk application that I was using then), was done only in 50 minutes with SketchUp.

Of course, there are important differences between these softwares: SketchUp is not a CAD software, but I believe that when the problems you have to solve are simple you must always look for a simple solution and for what I need to produce in my work, SketchUp is without a doubt, the best solution.

Since those days, I'm modeling with SketchUp on a daily basis, not only to produce schemes and 3D model views for technical documents (usually for parts lists and exploded views) but also as an important helper in the development of small mechanical projects. Basic analysis about interference between machine parts or assembly sequence studies are easy with SketchUp.

A good and recent example of how SketchUp helps me in my work is the set of studies and schemes I made for a simple lifting adaptor for copper cylinders. This was a simple project entirely developed with SketchUp since the first sketch, up to the final product. All presentation and assembly schemes, and even a presentation video, were made easily and rapidly with SketchUp.

Some time ago I also started to use SketchUp in another way: as a pre-modeling tool for some architectural or "inorganic" models in Blender. Working this way dramatically simplifies the modeling work with Blender and I think is a technique that I will keep exploring.

In my humble opinion and to conclude this note, I only find one "problem" with SketchUp: the non-existence of a dedicated version for Linux. But what can we do? We all know that the world is not a perfect place.

Editor’s Note: Some Linux users have had success running the Windows version of SketchUp on Wine. The Wine Wiki provides more information.

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xavier said...

The first time I tried sketch UP I could not sleep for 3 days!
My first 3D model was my "pocket office" made of iron precast parts (boxes). I felt so sound by the 3D model that I desired to built my "office" right away.

It took me 47 nights to solve the structural issues and 90 days to buy, cut, weld and carry all parts to place (at the beach)

We assembled the 4 boxes unit in just 3 days (1 weekend) and it was sold in the first week, due to a formal request from a client!

Look at the final product here:

Thank you very much Sketch UP People God bless!


John said...

Wine is a very poor substitute for a native Linux solution. A native version of SketchUp for Linux would be incredibly useful, particularly because SkecthUp is very well documented, and while Linux has some reasonable capable CAD programs, none offer particularly good documentation or tutorials.

André da Silva said...

I agree with you John; a "wined" SketchUp is not a (good) solution. I have tried it in Ubuntu - Linux and it doesn't work at all... In fact, SketchUp is the only reason why I am still using Windows, after 18 month of contact with Ubuntu.

Brandon said...

Your work is amazing.

How do you make filleted intersections? Like on the third image from the bottom, where the pillow blocks have those vertical bolt receivers that seem to blend into the rest of the part?

Also, do you ever have problems with the zoom tool in sketchup? I would love to do this kind of work, but Sketchup just seems to have these quirks that make it difficult...?

Pedro André da Silva said...

Sorry Brandon, for this huge delay in my answer, but I didn't notice your comment...

First of all, let me thank you, your comment.

About your first question... those pillows are the result of a composition of 3 or 4 volumes and the filleted intersections are simply the result of how about SketchUp joins volumes. The vertical bolt receivers were modeled outside the rest of the pillow and then placed in their correct position. If after that, you intersect the composition (with command Intersect Faces) then Sketchup will draw the line of intersection. In this model, I didn't do it because this way it seems more real.

Problems with zoom? I didn't remember nothing special... sometimes there are some unexpected results (like if you want to extrude using Follow Me for very, very small pieces) but nothing critical...

GerryB said...

Amazing work. I am learning this software for my work in teaching. A lot of your models would be perfect examples for some of my projects, really wish they were downloadable.
I see you live in Lisbon, my wife and I are thinking about traveling there next summer.