Schooling with SketchUp: Modeling the Future with 3D

Bonnie Roskes is the creator of 3DVinci, a company that offers training in SketchUp and other application tutorials to beginners and professionals and everyone in between. Roskes is a professional structural engineer who loves teaching others how to use great modeling applications. Her “Google SketchUp Cookbook” was a Graphic Design Amazon Bestseller in 2009.

In The Beginning

3DVinci was an innovation born out of necessity. “I wrote the first tutorial for SketchUp in 2001, when SketchUp wasn’t at all mainstream. There were no other tutorials on the market, and people needed guidance on how to use the software. In 2006, when Google bought SketchUp, there was a free version that teachers were flocking to, but weren’t sure how to use, so I wrote tutorials for the education market as well.”

SketchUp for 3D Printing

“I started creating tutorials on SketchUp for 3D printing in 2013, while I was writing K-12 projects,” explains Roskes. “Having a 3D printer is really fun. I have five kids, and when their friends come over, they stare at my Afinia 3D printer for hours. The whole neighborhood loves it and people ask me to make things that will fix little issues that they have!” Roskes uses her creativity to find solutions to all sorts of problems. “I got the idea to design hooks to install a curtain for privacy on my kids’ bunk beds and I created holders for painted wall tiles.”

Afinia: Above the Rest

“When it came to choosing a printer, I thought the Afinia 3D printer’s ability to switch colors was fantastic. It is a great feature that I use all the time! The Afinia can create some amazing pieces that wouldn’t look nearly as good in one color. Other printers have the multi-color option, too, but required G Code programming. If you’re a serious maker, you can do it, but teachers cramped for time aren’t going to mess with it.”

Schooling with SketchUp

Roskes says, “My book, Modeling with SketchUp for 3D Printing, has sold several hundred copies so far. It is a great book for educators and contains step-by-step projects for students.

Cover: Modeling with SketchUp for 3D Printing

A lot of the ideas I Include in my books actually come from my kids. One of the models that draws the most attention from teachers is the DNA strand,” explains Roskes. “It’s a really cool design to look at. It’s printed out in pieces, so it is very tactile. Math and geometry teachers also really like the Escher tiling projects. These are great because the math concepts that are difficult for students to understand become completely clear when they can create it in 3D. I’ve found that SketchUp and 3D printing can be used for nearly any subject ”

A key piece that is missing from the desktop 3D printing ecosystem is the ability to convert an idea or product into a 3D model. Desktop 3D scanners are not generally ready for prime time yet, so it’s important for printer owners to have some knowledge of SketchUp or another design application.

Roskes explains that when people begin 3D printing, they should download something small to print, to make sure everything works. “That part isn’t particularly rewarding. But if you can find a model and modify it in SketchUp, actually make physical changes to it, that’s great. That’s the first step.” Roskes’ book takes individuals from the beginning stage to a very highly creative and innovative level.

Student Development

“SketchUp and 3D printing do amazing things for students’ spatial relations development. It’s important to begin this at a young age so later they can apply it to higher-level concepts. If I had SketchUp or a 3D printer growing up, it would have been much less intimidating going into a technical field. With this technology, kids in middle school are doing things we didn’t do until college,” admits Roskes.

“I think after school clubs will be a big area for 3D printing and hopefully more students will get involved with these programs. That is where the real innovation is going to start.”

Click here for more information on Bonnie’s book Modeling with SketchUp for 3D Printing.