Virtual Prototyping with Google Sketchup

Virtual prototyping is the creation of a paper or graphic illustration to show and tell others about your ideas. This is useful because it brings ideas to life and lets other people add to them. It’s utility ranges from consumer research to internal presentations and it’s much easier than making an actual prototype.

Google has just released Sketchup – a free tool for creating 3-D models of houses, sheds, decks, home additions, woodworking projects – even space ships. You can add details, textures and glass to your models, design with dimensional accuracy, and place your finished models in Google Earth, share them with others by posting them to the 3D Warehouse, or print hard copies.

A great compliment to Sketchup is a handy little product from Japan, “Pepakura“. This tool creates a printable, origami-like pattern from which 3D models may be translated into paper “reality”.


I wonder if Sketchup can be linked to a 3-D printer – a device that fabricates a 3-D mockup from a CAD file fast enough and cheap enough to produce a prototype of a part simply to clarify design or functionality issues.

Related Posts

Paper Napkin Sketches


  1. csven said

    “I wonder if Sketchup can be linked to a 3-D printer”

    Yes. Anything 3D, including data ripped from a videostream, can be fabbed.

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