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Published December 2010
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The age of 3D printing and personal fabrication is upon us! You'''ve probably heard of the incredibly sophisticated, yet inexpensive 3D printers that can produce almost any creation you give them. But how do you become part of that revolution?
Sandeep Singh takes you through the skills you need to learn and the services and technologies you need to know'''explaining what 3D printing is, how it works, and what it can do for you. You'''ll find yourself rapidly prototyping and learning to produce complex designs that can be fabricated by online 3D printing services or privately-owned 3D printers'''in your hands in no time.
Beginning Google SketchUp for 3D Printing starts by explaining how to use SketchUp and its plug-ins to make your design products. You will learn how to present and animate 3D models, and how to use Google Earth and 3D Warehouse to sell and market your 3D models. You'll also catch a glimpse of the 3D printing's future so you can plan ahead while mastering today's tools.
GDNet Staff Review:
Let's face facts. If you are making a game, you will inevitably want to have a genuine non-virtual representation of items in your game. You know it will happen. Every time you see an interview with the technical lead of whatever 3D game is trending, he has a plastic 3D doodad on his desk representing something important in the game-world. And if you played that game, you secretly lusted after that 3D doodad and wondered what was involved in making that.
After all, 3D in computer game parlance does not really mean 3D. When computers talk about 3D, they are talking about abstracting a scene in a computer and then rendering it to a 2D screen. It is not a real tangible 3D thing. But the advent of affordable and practical 3D printing has changed that. Suddenly 3D printers are not things cloistered in academic labs forming ragged looking items. You can actually use 3D printing to make COOL STUFF easily. And Beginning Google SketchUp for 3D Printing is an approachable guide to building practical and attractive 3D printed items without breaking the bank.
While Beginning Google SketchUp for 3D Printing is a good beginner's tutorial to using SketchUp, it is not a general 3D modeling tutorial applicable to everything from buildings to game characters. After all, most 3D you see on a screen does not have actual volume. Most 3D characters are empty shells constructed of 2D triangles with thickness of zero. The book spends some time getting you to un-learn techniques that apply to 3D but not to real-world 3D so that you can re-learn how to build 3D objects with actual volume and are constructed in a way that can be practically rendered in plastic or metal or foam or wood. After all, while overlapping or not-really-touching solids may look fine on a screen, they might not be practical for 3D printing. And you don't want your model to fall apart or flop over as soon as it is out of the box.
Beginning Google SketchUp for 3D Printing has three take-home projects. First is a simple lighthouse constructed of primitive shapes. Next is a cute wrist-wearable sundial showing how to build a more complex model. Finally, there is a military-looking car intended to show off models made of several parts. The tutorials are easy to follow and build nicely upon the techniques you learn.
My chief complaint about Beginning Google SketchUp for 3D Printing is that it is very limited in its discussion of output. While Shapeways.com is a pretty cool online service for uploading, ordering, and receiving 3D models you create, it is not the only thing out there. There are plenty of current and up-coming 3D printing technologies that are accessible to home users. There are laser cutters and CNC machines and open-source MakerBots that can construct or cut 3D models in your living room or home workshop, and for a price close to what I paid for my Smith-Corona daisy wheel printer in 1983. And the way these technologies work are different. While I do respect that this book is attempting to be an approachable 3D printing introduction for the layman, I can see the reader quickly outgrowing making custom D&D dice via Shapeways in favor of milling his own custom backyard picnic table. And while there is a thin chapter on "3D Printing Alternatives" at the end, there should be more. As it stands, it shares space with a couple of chapters that are not related to 3D printing at all, like using SketchUp's SketchPhysics module to make screen animations.
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