Is Sketchup Really a Mainstream MCAD Tool?
Rick Stavanja posted on September 25, 2012 |

It's been interesting watching the maker industry and it's rapid evolution over the past few years. It has brought technologies such as 3D scanning and printing to the masses, and introduced concepts such as custom manufacturing to previously un-served niche consumer markets. Beginning amongst hobbyists and technology enthusiasts to produce low-volume products on their own, we're now seeing entirely new businesses emerging applying the same technologies to spawn smaller, more nimble manufacturing operations able to better serve niche markets across the world.

Traditional 3D CAD tools that actually carried price tags didn't resonate as well with the early maker market as did free 3D CAD tools such as SketchUp.  Although originally designed as a easy to use tool for the architectural industry, it has been adopted as the tool of choice by many makers to design products traditionally addressed by MCAD tools.  Since its tool set lacks many of features necessary for uses such as that, add-ins such as Khamsin (a CFD add-n for SketchUp that adds the open source OpenFOAM solvers) have started to spring up that help users address their needs.

This was something I certainly didn't see coming.

Although the mainstream CAD market is now responding to the maker industry, I'm curious to learn more.  I’d like to hear from users as to how non-traditional MCAD tools such as SketchUp and/or other tools are being applied today, and better understand the momentum they've achieved.

Will we continue to see non-traditional CAD tools like SketchUp continue to evolve?  Will that trend die out as new tools from vendors such as Autodesk emerge?  We'd love to hear your thoughts, stories, and opinions.

Chime in and make yourself heard…


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