After coming back from the Maker Faire in NY, one thing that really surprised me was how popular 3D printing is becoming. These days, you can purchase a 3D printer for under a thousand dollars and actually print out a real object from your digital model. I’ve been learning a little bit about 3D printing at the AS220 labs, but I have yet to purchase my own 3D printer. Regardless, I wanted to show you how easy it is to use Sketchup to create a simple bracket that you can print out on a 3D printer.
Rapid Desktop Prototyping
While at the Maker Faire, I had the honor of meeting many of the Trimble team members who develop Sketchup. They had a few 3D printers set up at their tent so they could show people how you could model something in Sketchup, then print it out instantly on the 3D printer. At one point they were presented with an engineering challenge.
The man in charge of connecting everybody with Wifi at the faire had a problem. He was looking to mount a piece of hardware to a round pole and looked to the Sketchup guys to come up with a solution. They were able to model something quickly in Sketchup, and print it out for him so he could mount the gear to the pole. The first prototype actually snapped during a stress test, so they just made some modifications to the design and printed out another one. How cool is that?
Creating a simple bracket in Sketchup is easy. In this tutorial, we’ll model a base plate with two arms. Now, unfortunately, I don’t have a 3D printer so I won’t be printing this out. I know, that’s lame. But you can use the same concepts in the design of this bracket to make any custom bracket for your needs.
Sketchup Tutorial – Custom Bracket
Draw the Base
Starting with the Rectangle Tool (R), Click once to start the rectangle, then move the mouse out and click again to finish the rectangle. To specify a precise dimension, type in
2",2" then press
Remember, you can also type in your dimensions right after your first click when you start the rectangle. It’s your choice. I like to do it after because sometimes I’ll accidentally move my mouse as I’m typing in a number and it will clear whatever I just typed in.
Extrude the Base
Using the Push/Pull Tool (P), extrude the rectangle into a 3D object. Click once on the surface of the rectangle to start, then pull up. Click again to finish. Type in
ENTER to specify the height at 1/4″.