Popularity of Google SketchUp in the industry?


I am just wondering the importance and/or popularity of furniture designers/companies using SketchUp? When I was in school studying Product Design (2009), it was only just gaining traction as a recent release. However, now it seems to be more popular… just wondering if it’s worth using as the main 3D rendering software if I can’t get access to Solidworks?

Any insight would be helpful!


I deal a lot with space and application designers from major systems furniture companies (Steelcase/Haworth/HM/etc). While their CAD and engineering depts dont use it, the applications teams build entire floorplans with it. Also, a lot of interior designers will use it to lay out rooms and build up desking systems and typicals for consumers to get a better idea on what they are buying Unlike office depot, you purchase all parts separately, meaning that the worksurface, privacy panels, grommets, cabinet styles and even the leg variation can create thousands of options. Having a kit of parts allows them to build it in Sketchup rather quickly.

It isnt a very powerful program, and while I have seen people use it for visualization, the preferred program is still 3dsmax or similar sub-D modeling. It is much easier to have complex surfaces in programs like Max. However, Max is highly inaccurate, and doesnt really have a measuring device. We usually go by the motto “if it looks right, it is right” when dealing with Max. This can cause some inaccuracies when building consumer products.

The majority of SketchUp users I know of are using it to design spaces, such as interior designers and architects. In my experience, it hasn’t proven to be too great with product design functions.

Sketchup is in no way a competitor to Solidworks or any CAD tool. Sketchup is a space layout tool that some dedicated individuals have turned into a low fidelity polygon modeling tool (since it’s free) but it in no way is meant for product design.

I use sketchup for space layouts, or quick mockups if I need to bring a 3D interior space into Keyshot since the 3D Warehouse it has is a quick way to get free assets for simple objects like tables, chairs, TV’s, computers, etc - which all work fairly well for low res “Background” props.

All SketchUp:

I don’t use it myself, but it seems to have plenty of potential with the right plug-ins.

Like I said, some people have turned it into more than it was meant to be (I had not seen the Sub D plugin, that’s fairly new) because it’s free, but that doesn’t mean that is a workflow that anyone in this industry uses.

A few hobbies 3d guys doing some basic car designs using a smoothing plugin doesn’t really make much sense other than being “king of the sketchup modelers”.

If you want to do polygon or SubD modeling, Blender (https://www.blender.org/) is a FAR more powerful tool and it’s also free. But unlike sketchup it’s a workflow that’s properly designed for true polygon modeling, UV mapping, etc - and the skills learned there will much more easily transfer to Maya or 3D studio (which are still not ID tools - unless you only do 3D work for visualization or rapid prototyping).

Agreed Mike, I just wanted to show what is possible, but Brian, best to stick with the commonly used programs, it’ll make your future life heaps easier! :slight_smile: