SketchUp Pro vs SketchUp Free: 


What is the difference

In the 3D printing industry, there are many 3D modelling opportunities to prepare a model before manufacturing. Some softwares are widely available in the market today, although they are not fully tailored for additive manufacturing. An example of this is SketchUp, a modelling, animation and mapping solution that has become known for its ease of use, especially in the architecture field. The SketchUp Free version is also part of our selection of 3D software for beginners. Here you get an overview of the properties of the software, its functionalities and the costs.

The first version of SketchUp was developed in 2000 and originally published by Last Software. It was then bought by Google in 2006: the American giant sold the software to the Californian company Trimble in 2012. There are 3 versions: SketchUp Pro for all professionals; Shop for manufacturers, designers and carpenters; Free which as the name suggests is the free version of the solution available directly from a web browser. In all three cases, SketchUp is based on a surface modeling principle of manipulating faces and edges to achieve the desired result. The last update was released in January 2020 and includes some improvements based on user feedback.

SketchUp Free: the basic version of the software

The free version of SketchUp Free (formerly: SketchUp Make) is completely free and only requires an internet connection. It allows all users to easily model their projects in 3D using a variety of tools. You can draw lines, arcs, shapes and all kinds of objects right from the interface. Paint, measure, and move tools are also provided, allowing you to manipulate each element. What is particularly convenient here is the fact that the generated model can be exported in STL format, which gives the opportunity to print it in 3D after a mandatory pass through the slicer. The software also offers a library of free models for those who need a helping hand, called the 3D Gallery. The free version comes with 10GB of cloud storage via Trimble Connect, allowing for easy project sharing.

SketchUp Free is for personal use only. Accordingly, it is not possible to add extensions to exploit the full potential of creation.

SketchUp Pro: the most complete version of the software

As you can see, SketchUp Pro is the most advanced solution of the software that can be used on a computer - you also have the option to connect to the web version. It consists of three different programs: Pro, LayOut and Builder. SketchUp Pro has more advanced features designed for all professionals who need a full modeler. Compared to the other two versions presented, this one allows to create dynamic components and animations, use a 2D version on LayOut or create your own sketches. SketchUp Pro also offers an STL export format for 3D printing your models.

The latest version brings new data structures and modelling techniques, with tools like Outliner and the ability to hide objects while you work. One device annual licence costs $289 (or €274). There is also a free 30-day trial version of SketchUp Pro.

You can now start your modelling projects or buy SketchUp Pro directly.

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