I need advice, pros and cons faceted polygon faces

Hi, I’ve been using Sketch-Up Pro for about a year now and use it as a hobby & project visualizer. I’m into timberframing and like to draw up my structures and joinery and play around with modifications (pitch angles, door placements, balconies, mezzanines,etc.).
I don’t really use this software professionally but I do intend on building big-lumber-swing-sets out of a plan I made and see if they sell. (beside the point)

Recently I’ve been wanting to build a model airplane out of 3/32’’ balsa wood and want to use my wife’s ‘CricutMaker’ to cut the pieces for the project. Since I’m not that adept in aerodynamics I don’t feel up for designing my own yet and want to use an existing plan. The plan I found is a .SLDPRT that can’t be opened with sketch-up without the ‘SolidWorks’ extension. I installed this extension but now it’s asking me to pay 150$ subcription to use the extension, and if I’m not mistaken, this if just to look at it and am not even sure if I’ll be able to explode the different components of the model.

So yeah… I’m wondering what are really the advantages of sketchup and of these other CAD softwares that use ‘NURBS’ instead of polygon faces. I’m also wanting to desing some moving mechanisms using gears and chains and think this is doable with SketchUp but havn’t taken the time yet to do the proper tutorial to learn about these types of dynamic parts.

I guess my questions are:
-Do I have to pay 150$/year to ‘SolidWorks’ to read a .SLDPRT file?
-When I do read it will I be able to play around until I get the flat templates i need to print/cut the wood?
-Are these other types of CAD softwares as easy to use as SketchUp and which is better for testing out dynamic parts and gearing ratios?
-If the top two work out, how would you go about exporting the individual parts of a wood plane from an assembled 3D model so they stay to scale with themselves.

Thanks, Sorry for the long post. I just want to be understood that 150$ extra of my SketchUp Pro subcription is a bit much for hobbies.

As I already replied to you, you would need to take up the question of the price of the importer with SimLab. That’s not Solidworks. SimLab is an independent company. The price of the extension is separate from the SketchUp subscription, too.

When I looked at the SimLab site I didn’t see anything that indicated the $150 price is a per year thing. It may be a one time fee. Again, contact them regarding that.

Then it sends me here:


I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be cheap. I just want to the most out of a subscription and was actually considering switching away from SketchUp for a software that can possibly load more types of files for such instances as these. As I haven’t used any other 3D Software I don’t really know the difference between these. SketchUp being ‘Google’, I thought it was just more accessible and resource friendly, I thought also that I’d have access to a bank of community made plans, which doesn’t seem to be the case.

Sketchup hasn’t been google for a long time.

You really need to look at what your end product will be and the most appropriate pathway to get there. The cricut will most likely need vector graphics, like .svg to cut from. There are various solidwork converters and viewers available, I look at some of them and see if you can get something workable from there. Then think about using sketchup for modelling ideas and something like inkscape to produce nice smooth cutting .svg files.

My mistake then. Still I ‘feel’ like trimble advertised access to community made plans, but all there is is ‘3D warehouse’. Or at least that’s what I hoped for, but I find it difficult with these ‘expensive’ softwares to know really what it’s like and what your getting access too. You know? Even with the free trials, you don’t get the “full access” until you ‘buy it’. Is there such a thing as a community of shared SketchUp plans (say for wood/metal workers) or is it only possible to share plans within the same account?

Everything in the 3d warehouse is freely available to anyone, having a pro license doesn’t change that. What you see there is what you get.
But you may be thinking about things the slightly wrong way, Sketchup is a modeling program which can be used to produce 2d plans but it is rare that you would see such plans in the warehouse.
Some people sell plans for furniture etc but that isn’t part of buying pro or anything to do with subscriptions to Sketchup.

It’s also not really the correct format for your ‘cutting’ plans as all curves in Sketchup are segmented. Which is why I think you need to ask yourself what it is you need and look for the appropriate tools to do that. It’s a bit like the old joke, can you give me directions to the village, Well I wouldn’t be starting from here.

This is not correct, the trial period of SketchUp Pro gives you full acces to the program. No restrictions…
For non commercial use you could have downloaded SketchUp Make 2017. It’s free but limited in some ways. Maybe you could get a refund.
But as @Box said maybe SketchUp is not the best program for your needs…

I didn’t quite say that, Sketchup is great for his wordworking jobs, but not really for using with the cricut machine.
I would have said Sketchup is one tool in your digital workshop along with others.

Agreed, perfectly adequate for woodworking!

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Where did you see that Trimble advertised access to community made “plans”?

No I know they didn’t, it was just my interpretation of the “sharing plans between users” that SketchUp Pro offers. Now I know that this just means that I can have a friend/employee work on the same project as I am.

I do very much enjoy designing woodworking projects and tiny houses with SketchUp, I am considering downgrading to the free ‘SketchUp Make’ and allocating the funds for ‘Pro’ towards a different CAD software. Like Box said, more tools for the digital workshop, since I don’t think I’m using it for its money’s worth. The main attraction for me was to use it without internet connection, that was mainly to show some plans to friends who live far in the woods when I’d visit, thought I suppose there are some 3D readers that can do that with .SKP files… though I don’t know if I’ll be allowed to save those files on my computer without ‘Pro’.

Question is again, if the main advantage of SketchUp the user friendliness? Would I have as much ease to make woodworking plans with SolidWorks or AutoCAD? Or is it completely different? Can SolidWorks do everything sketchup does?

Also my brother got a 3D Printer so I assume SketchUp won’t be much help with that.

Search the forum. You will find a great many people doing amazing 3D printing using SketchUp.

SolidWorks and AutoCAD do things differently than SketchUp. You could learn to “speak” SolidWorks or AutoCAD and probably get along just fine. I think Solid Works is overkill for woodworking projects.

Since you are concerned about price, you might want to check into that before you make the leap. I checked into the price of a seat of SolidWorks a few years ago. It would have cost me more than I have invested in all the tools in my workshop just to get started in SW and then there was the annual fee after that. I could pay for a Sketchup Pro subscription for more than a decade and still not come anywhere close to the price I was quoted for Solid Works.

You know what assume does.

Modeled in SketchUp this morning for a full size pattern for turning on the lathe.

Set up for 3D printing.

Just a remark about 3D printing. Most printer software eats models in the STL format. That is a triangulated format with flat facets anyway, and combined with limited printer resolution means that the output of sophisticated NURBS surfaces wont differ much from what you get from SketchUp by using an appropriate number of facets for your curved objects.

As to applications, instead of Solidworks you could take a look at Rhino. That costs more than SketchUp but is still in quite a different ballpark than Solidworks. It has an 90-day unlimited trial.

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