Thanks to the efforts of Thingiverse superusers like Michael “Skimbal” Curry, Trimble SketchUp (formerly Google SketchUp) has been the tool of choice for some of the most popular items from desktop 3D Printing. (See the Gothic Cathedral Playset below.)
With its intuitive “direct modeling” style of control (you will see ideas like these explored in 123D Design) and powerful free version, new 3D designers world over often get started in the craft using this tool. This app has a training system built right into the software itself, to quickly introduce new users.
Be mindful that the output from SketchUp was initially designed for rendering only — your model might need repair before it is ready for printing. There are a number of tutorials online to help you make sure your model is manifold when you export it.
From the Trimble Sketchup site:
SketchUp users are architects, designers, builders, makers and engineers. They are the people who shape the physical world. They are important, and they deserve great tools because great tools produce great work.
Great tools are ones you look forward to using. They do one thing (or maybe two) really, really well. They let you do what you want without having to figure out how. They help with hard or boring tasks so that you can focus on being creative, or productive, or both. And they are, in their own way, beautiful.
At SketchUp, we do our best to make great tools for drawing. For our users, drawing is thinking. They draw to explore ideas, to figure things out, to show other people what they mean. They draw because they love it, and because nothing great was ever built that didn’t start with a great drawing.
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