[Updated 5/15/13 with new list of plugins]
SketchUp is a great tool for doing 3D design. It has a very low learning curve and can be used to create accurate designs. Moreover, there are many plug-ins for use with the app to increase functionality and interoperability.
SketchUp is available for download from their site, but it is also available on the computers in the Technology Learning Center located on the 3rd floor of Boatwright Library.
There are many sources for tutorials for using SketchUp. The best video tutorials are the official ones originally from Google and now maintained by Trimble (visit http://www.sketchup.com/training/videos.html ). Also, there are tutorial files that can be opened in SketchUp and walk you through learning various skills. They are available through the 3D Warehouse (visit http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/cldetails?clid=36e1fa0d054a15eecc725c514c21d975 ). The University of Richmond subscribes to Atomic Learning tutorials for its community; however, those tutorials are only up to SketchUp version 7 (visit http://is.richmond.edu/training/tutorials.html ).
The plug-ins that are installed and are recommended for greatly increasing the utility of SketchUp include:
- Export to DXF or STL Plugin (source http://www.guitar-list.com/download-software/convert-sketchup-skp-files-dxf-or-stl )
- STL Importer (source https://sites.google.com/site/jimfoltz/sketchup/my-sketchup-plugins/stl-importer )
- FixSolid Version 1.5 (source http://forums.sketchucation.com/viewtopic.php?f=323&t=33471&hilit=fixsolid&start=15 )
- Solid Inspector (source http://forums.sketchucation.com/viewtopic.php?f=323&t=33471&hilit=fixsolid&start=15 )
- MakeFaces Version 1.4 (source http://www.smustard.com/script/MakeFaces )
- Stray Lines (source http://www.smustard.com/script/StrayLines )
- Unfold Tool (source http://sketchuptips.blogspot.com/2007/08/plugin-unfoldrb.html )
- Shape Bender Version 0.55 (source http://forums.sketchucation.com/viewtopic.php?f=180&t=18210 )
- Selection Toys 2.2.2 (source http://sketchucation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=14975 )
- Molecule Importer (source http://sketchucation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=39051 )
- Set Center Point (source http://www.smustard.com/script/CenterPoint )
- JF Sphere Tool (source http://www.woodworlds.com/downloads/func-finishdown/187/ )
- KML Tools Plugin 1.4.11 (source http://sketchucation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=38009 )
- Draw Helix (source http://www.cad-addict.com/2009/07/sketchup-plugins-how-to-draw-helix-or.html )
- SP Gears (source http://www.soliforum.com/topic/5564/$2/ )