For many of us, SketchUp was our first encounter with 3D modeling. But what’s the latest from SketchUp?
Things have changed. Originally developed in 2000 by @Last Software, SketchUp was acquired first by Google in 2006 and then by Trimble Navigation in 2012. During the Google regime, SketchUp became massively popular as Google positioned the software as one of its many free-to-use tools that people often use.
But after SketchUp’s transfer to Trimble Navigation we wondered what might happen to the software. Who exactly is Trimble, anyway?
It turns out that Trimble Navigation is a massive and growing company focused on geo-functions of many kinds. They’re now a USD$2B+ company. SketchUp is a small operation within their conglomerate.
But SketchUp is succeeding. People still use SketchUp as their first introduction to 3D modeling and many continue to use it for advanced uses. Some of those uses include 3D printing.
Trimble continues to provide a free version as Google did, but it’s now called SketchUp Make. The pay-for version is called SketchUp Pro (USD$495 + USD$95 for support). They’re now releasing new versions annually, each with new features.
For 3D printing you might want to go directly to the Pro version, as it includes integrated 3D print features, such as solid modeling that is required for 3D printable models.
If you use the free version (which by the way no longer permits commercial usage), Trimble provides a SketchUp extension that enables the software to export STL, which can then be used for 3D printing. The extension can be tricky, but it does work; we’ve 3D printed multiple items designed in SketchUp over the years.