In 2006, just a few weeks after we closed our original acquisition by Google, we introduced a slimmed-down new version of SketchUp that allowed people to quickly and easily build 3D models of the buildings that mattered to them for representation in Earth. One of the biggest features we added was actually something we took away… the price tag. This new version of SketchUp cost nothing to use—and because SketchUp is SketchUp—anyone could learn how to do so in almost no time at all.
As most folks probably now know, the free version of SketchUp has been a huge success. In the past six years or so, its user base has grown into the millions and spread around the world. Today more than 30 million people a year use SketchUp in a dozen different languages, at a rate of almost 40 starts per second. Read that again if you need minute for it to sink in… SketchUp is used almost a billion times a year. And still that number is growing.
While there are certainly communities of folks who still use SketchUp as a “geo-modeling” tool for Google Earth, the reality is that that this kind of use has only ever represented a small subset of all the things people are actually doing with it.
We found that SketchUp has been used to plan structures at Burning Man. It has also been used to launch ocean cleaning drones. Not only has it become a tool of choice for 3D printing enthusiasts, it’s been used to design the printers themselves, helping to kick off a broader revolution in personal manufacturing. On top of it all, SketchUp can be used by kids to design the best pinewood derby racers ever. Truly we’re seeing “3D for everyone” playing out at a grand scale.
As it turns out, there’s now a name for this diversely creative and inventive group of folks who have been using SketchUp for years. We call them “Makers,” a term coined by Dale Dougherty and his gang at Make:. We’ve been a part of Dale’s movement since the beginning, and we’re in it for the long run. And it is in honor of the Maker movement that we’re re-launching our free 3D design tool under the new name “SketchUp Make.”
But really, there isn’t much else changing here—SketchUp Make is still free for non-commercial use, still powerful and still under active development. We’ve added a batch of new features to the 2013 release of SketchUp Make (check out our new STL import|export extension, for example) and we’re looking forward to developing and supporting it well into the future. Let’s go make stuff together!
Have questions about SketchUp Make? We'll be listening here and on this thread in our help forum.