SketchupPRO or SketchupMAKE?

I would like to learn to create objects for my model train N scale (1:160) like: bumpers, buildings, people, cars, etc.etc. using 3D printing.
At this point I’m looking for advice. Should I use SketchupPRO or SketchupMAKE?
Keep in mind I’m starting from scratch (some little experience in 2D with AutoCAD and Sketchup), that I’m going to take courses to learn the app, and that I’m doing this as a hobby and not for professional purposes.

If you are just getting started, I would recommend using the Make version. Keep in mind that you can’t legally use the results of the fruits of your labor to make any money. If you want to upgrade to Pro at a later time you can do so. I’ve been using SketchUp Make for 3D printing for several years now (along with SketchUp 8) and haven’t personally seen a need to purchase Pro … I can accomplish what I need with the Make version.

Good question @RJL! The answer can really be broken up into two parts. One based on the differences between Make and Pro on a technical level and the other on a legal level.

As for the technical part, Make has nearly all the same functions as pro. There are a few differences between them. The list can be found here:

Now as for the legal part, as long as it is for Non-Commercial use (like a personal project, say for your N-Scale model railroad) you are in the legal clear. If you plan on selling things you make with SketchUp, you will need to get the pro license. The pro license is quite expensive, I would recommend that you play around with SketchUp Make for a while to be absolutely sure that SketchUp is the right program for you and that you will in fact, need a SketchUp Pro license before you buy one.

Finally, if for some reason you do need a pro license, there are discounts available if you are a student. Not many people I have talked to know about this and on the off-chance it may be of use to you I have the link here: 3D Design for Educators | 3D Modeling Software for Students | SketchUp for Education

Granted, it still has the restriction on commercial use but if you need the tools it is there for students.


As a model railroader (inactive) myself, I’d love to see some of your models - once you start making them!

Although I’ve not (yet) explored 3D printing, reading this forum has given me a bit of general education - and you should be warned about one thing:

At N Scale, many details that you might want to model, then 3D print will have details that are too small to do with the lower end 3D printing methods. I suggest you research the resolution, spillover, and shrinkage specifications of various processes to achieve your optimal balance of cost vs detail.

I’ve used SketchUp for a few N-scale projects.

I made a card stock building by starting with a full sized SketchUp model which I unfolded and set up in LayOut at the right scale so it can be printed and then folded back to 3D. This was before 3D printing was readily accessible. (LayOut is part of the pro package)

I’ve also used it to draw track layouts from real locations using the location inserted from Google Maps.

Draw it at full size and then scale down afterward.

That can be done with Pro and Make.

Lots of ways to utilize SketchUp for model railroading. Have fun with it.

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Thank you Jim
For now, is for my personal use.
In the eventuality I could profit from my knowledge, I will not have problems purchasing PRO. Fair is fair.
Since it appears I could update from MAKE to PRO, I decided to go with MAKE to start.

Thank you C
For now, is for my personal use.
In the eventuality I could profit from my knowledge, I will not have problems purchasing PRO. Fair is fair.
Since it appears I could update from MAKE to PRO, I decided to go with MAKE to start.
I’m not a student in any credited college, so I would not be able to take advantage of the student discount.
In itself, this learning of 3D printing is a hobby. I’m 66, retired, and with the need “to be creative”.

If you have any questions, you now know where to ask them :slight_smile:

As for N scale printing [This is not an endorsement of any particular vendor]

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Thank you SJ
Thank you for the warning on the amount of detail I would be able to 3D print. As you, I’m getting a little bit of general education in this forum; it is part of having a hobby. For example, DaveR in this forum, is telling me he prints 2D buildings in card stock and then folds them into 3D; Brilliant! Another option.

Brilliant!! Dave
Your 2D card stock is a great idea. It is a very inexpensive way to have buildings in the layout. I will use it.
I will use 3D printing to make bumpers, signal posts, other accessories difficult or impossible to find.
Your idea of using Google Maps to make layouts real as the the prototype it did not occurred to me: Brilliant!


Using UV curable acrylate, you can get some amazing detail:

WOW! Amazing detailss. Thanks.