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Author : David Richards, contributor

SketchUp 3D Basecamp - A Brief Roundup

Earlier last week the SketchUp team and Trimble hosted 3D Basecamp in Boulder, Colorado. For avid SketchUp users 3DBC is a great time to network with and learn from other SketchUp users. I had an opportunity to see some amazing work from a number of folks in diffferent disciplines. There wasn't a whole lot of content directly aimed at woodworkers but there was still a lot of interest.

On Monday we heard from Trimble Sector VP Bryn Fosburgh. He oversees the SketchUp group in addition to some of the other sectors of Trimble. He offered a tiny peek at the future of SketchUp. Trimble is committed to continuing to offer and support a free version of SketchUp although he did say there would be greater differentiation between the free version and the pro versions. The next version of SketchUp will be called SketchUp2013 which leads me to think we'll see it next year. No ideas yet on what new features we'll see so we'll have to wait on that.

The keynote speech was a presentation by Bre Pettis, the founder of MakerBot, a company that sells reasonably-priced desktop 3D printers. The idea of 3D printing is intriguing to me and I can see some interesting applications for woodworkers. I can imagine printing some custom light-duty hardware and complex patterns. It could be be used to create 3D models of woodworking projects such as the one I had made by a commercial 3D printing company. Suppose you had an idea for a new tool for your shop. You could print the parts to prove the concept in the same way manufacturers such as Lee Valley do.

For those interested in creating photo-realistic renders from their SketchUp models, there were a number of commercial renderers represented in Boulder. After seeing some of the rendering shown there, I'm starting to think differently about using renders more often than I do.

Tuesday was filled with "Un-conference" sessions presented by vendors and users of SketchUp. There were too many of these sessions to be able to attend them all but there was something for everyone. I attended a session on SketchUp in Education that was quite interesting. SketchUp is being used in primary education as a tool to teach math and geometry as well as history and geography. It's also be found to be helpful with children dealing with autism.

On Wednesday morning there was a design charrette. This was an interesting exercise of collaboration between small groups of folks. The focus of this activity was to come up with ideas and concepts for utilizing computers, tablets and other electonic devices in a school setting. These ideas were then presented to a board from a local school and some of the ideas will likely be put into use.

One of the big things I got out of 3D Basecamp this year was that there are many opportunities for using SketchUp in the community. Although the focus of this blog tends to be woodworking, there are many other ways SketchUp can be used. Prehaps some of our readers might find ways they can help in their local schools.

The other thing I left with is the idea that we're just nicking the surface and we're going to see some big things in the not too distant future.


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