LumberJocks Woodworking Forum banner

Switching to Autodesk from Sketchup

917 Views 15 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  gmaffPappy
My premise to change may be wrong, so correct me if I'm off-base.

I've been trying to get some new textures into my kitchen model, but I've been unable to access the 3d-warehouse. I'm a computer geek, and professionally a Enterprise Data Architect. With that framing, I really don't like working in the "cloud". These are my designs, and at the very least, they are my intellectual (I use the turn loosely) property. I want to have complete ownership and control. When/if I want to share, I will gladly share, but I know from my 26 years of Data experience, when something is put it on the cloud, it's no secure. Not to preach, but even our HIPPA data is not safe. There are a lot of companies that legally can't put data in the cloud for that very reason.

Sorry for the little rant, but I can support a local install, so why wouldn't I?

From my research, that leaves me two options: Buy Sketchup Pro for $300/year for a local install. It's not too horribly expensive, but even M$ sells the complete Office 365 for less. Or, I could learn a new platform.

I've spent a couple days with Autodesk's free offering. It's impressive, but there are some things I can't seem to be able to do. I've found videos online that walk you through how to do those things, but the menus used in the vids aren't even available in the free version I'm using. I started college as an Architecture major. I've logged hundreds of hours in other CAD software and thousands over the years in Sketchup, so I know the capabilities I'm looking for. I know these things can in Sketchup. I'm a little hesitant to switch to a new platform after only being able to test-drive a limited version. I remember Autodesk for Architecture was much more comprehensive.

Other problems with Autodesk's free offering is the limitation to Bodies. you can't only have 10, I think? That will push me to the purchased version for $500/year. That's getting to be a little steep, as I'm only designing my personal projects and not selling them….yet.

Has anyone else out there had a similar experience? All thoughts, guidance, and experiences are welcome as I search for clarity.
See less See more
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
What is it about your designs that is so special that you're concerned about their security.

I use OnShape. Its professional plan is $2100/yr, however they offer it for free with one limitation-your designs are public. Do I care if someone steals my design for a hall table or vanity? Nope.
Not at all. I'll gladly give any of my designs to anyone. I'm really an opensource kind of person. The problem I have is knowingly giving ANY of MY THINGS away to a corporation that then Profits from it. Don't get me wrong, I'm a total capitalist, I begrudge now-one their rights to engage in commerce. Through my profession as a Data Architect, I've seen how the cloud has pervaded and been a source for many new lines of revenue. I'm a big believer in everyone's rights to their digital footprint. It's ours, and if someone wants to make money from it, that's fine, but we should get our cut. I don't want to pay a fee so that someone can make money off of my activities. Ads are one thing, using my interaction data is something different. I'm philosophically opposed to paying
for someone to use my data without my consent to make more money.

As for my special designs, I guarantee that no one is interested in my hall tree designs. Maybe my blanket chests. But online software companies glean a massive amount of data, about you, as you use their platform. You'd be surprised how much a company can learn from just your points and clicks. How do you think Google go so big, so fast? It was through the data everyone gave them for free. They know how to collect it, how to use it, and how to get everyone to hand it over unwittingly without understanding it's true value. I know this, because that is exactly what I do for a living. Unfortunately, I help companies do this exact thing.

Sorry, to go on. I've been in a little battle with my conscience about this for a while now.

So, OnShape is it? I'll look at that. I'd love to contribute to a warehouse. I don't know if anyone would ever like something I publish, but maybe, someday, someone will be inspired by a curve in a chair design I put up.

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll look into it.
See less See more
I still use Sketchup 2017.
As far as textures go (for 2017) there are several sites that have plug-ins or extensions for any textures you might want.
2017 does as much as I need it to. I would never go to the cloud based program. I would switch to a different program first.

Rich, that looks to darn sophisticated for me. lol

Fusion 360 is another people are speaking of but I have never tried it.
Rich, that looks to darn sophisticated for me. lol
Honestly, you are so talented with SketchUp, I don't know why you'd switch. But too sophisticated? No way.

Fusion 360 is another people are speaking of but I have never tried it.

- LeeRoyMan
It's a different way of working. SketchUp is a surface based solids modeling concept. You know when you do something and find yourself looking down into an abyss? That was a surface you accidentally included in your selection. I will say some things are much easier in SketchUp for me.

Fusion 360 and OnShape are real 3D. You always start with a sketch plane. Doing an extrude is just like push/pull, only different.

Overall, I've found it works best for me. I can do my model and produce shop ready dimensioned drawings easily, and that's all I need.
I've been using Sketchup 2017 since they moved the free version to the web but not because of fear of the cloud. It just didn't work as well at first and it now has restricted access to some of the add-ins I use. You have to pay to be able to use them now, I think. They may have limited the use of the 3D warehouse from the old versions. Last time I tried to download something it wasn't compatible with 2017 even though it was an old design. Sketchup is really horrible for designing for 3D printing. When you have to use an add-in just to find things that don't work well for 3D printing, it is time to find another application. It's inability to handle small curves and circles really pisses me off too.

I recently tried Onshape and really like it. I don't know if it is easier to use than Fusion 360 or it is just that they have better tutorials. The parametric design approach is really great for making updates as you need to make design changes. If done right as you go , it can save a lot of time making revisions. The ability to define how moving parts interact with each other is pretty cool too. I haven't used it to design any wood working projects yet but I've used it for 3D designs for printing and CNC work and it will be my go to for those purposes.
See less See more
Been using AutoCAD since V2.17 back in the 80's. Have taught AutoCAD, in Spanish! My old version finally bit the dust when my Win 7 box died and I moved up to Win 10. (sigh)

I found NanoCAD that is a FREE AutoCAD workalike. It's different in subtle but good ways (mostly). Got a couple of minor bugs here & there, but nothing major. I use it for 2D "release" drawings.

For 3D cad I use TinkerCAD which is an AutoDesk product for KIDS learning STEM. It creates the .STL files my 3D printer's slicer program needs to make the final .gcode file to print the part.

TinkerCAD works, but it's not a drafting program (it has LEGO mode!), BUT you can port the parts into AutoDesk's Fusion360 3D program which is also FREE for non-commercial use. It can only have 10 active files at once, but so far is capable.

To recap:

  • NanoCAD
  • TinkerCAD
  • Fusion360

All Free, but with a STEEP learning curve.

Product Rectangle Font Slope Parallel

Fusion360 Adds Dimension to the TinkerCAD parts

Here is the actual part drawing:

Font Rectangle Material property Parallel Magenta

NanoCAD drawing includes inset of actual 3D printed part

I can go from a concept in my mind to TinkerCad to Slicer to Part, in minutes. Then from TinkerCad to Fusion360 to Paint.NET to NanoCAD to hardcopy while my $150 3D printer churns out the part.


See less See more
Might give FreeCAD a looksee. Maybe TurboCAD/DesignCAD since they seem to be reasonably priced. Lastly, DesignSpark Mechanical.

Do those of you who use Fusion360 pay for it, or do you find the free version is robust enough for your needs? How do you circumvent the limitation on components?

I've been working with OnShape this morning. This is really great software. I took to it naturally. Everything I've looked for was there. When you have any issues, the online help is wonderful. There's even videos that walk you through what to. As for making the projects public? I have no issues with that at all. They are more than compensating me with the completeness and education materials they provide for with their public offering. I'm already doing things faster than I would in Sketchup. I can't wait to tryout the VR addons. This CAD platform has everything I've looked for.

Thanks Rich for pointing me in this direction!
I agree. OnShape's online training tutorials are some the best I have seen.

There is an OnShape iPad app too (not sure about Android). I think you probably need an iPad with a stylus to make it easy enough to use regularly and doing complex designs from the bottom up might not be that easy but I have modified a relatively simple design using it just to try it out and it wasn't too bad. This is where the cloud storage pays off because no matter what platform you sign in on, you can access all of your designs as long as you have an internet connection. I seem to recall that it has the ability to download and work offline just in case you want to use it at the beach or something too.
I'm doing well with the free version of Fusion360. I can't justify spending on a subscription when I only need it occasionally to document what I've created in TinkerCAD. To make it close the loop you need to be able to export the dimensioned drawing as a flat .DXF but THAT is a $$$ option.
As it is I just zoom it up as far as I can get in the window, press Fn Print Screen and paste it into It's a bitmap at this point and the scaling isn't perfect but the dimension labels are correct and that's really all I need for creating an engineering control drawing.

Rectangle Schematic Font Parallel Engineering

Fusion360 really knows how to dimension. You put it in general mode and it'll correctly measure linear, radius, diameter, etc. The above was done in minutes.


See less See more
When I taught I could download any Autodesk program free so could my students. I don't know if that's still an option retired 7 years ago. I been looking at turbo Cad I used it before the school got autodesk products (auto cad, inventor pro, and revit).
The more I use OnShape, the more I like it. There are two big issues with it though. It's probably my newness with the software, but I can't get my parts to look like Pine, Cherry, etc. There's a pretty substantial materials library. It goes very deep into detail. It even uses the specific mass to determine the gravitational center-point of an assembly, but you want to parts to look like anything but Anodized Aluminum, I may be out of luck until I learn more.

Also, with the right extensions in Sketchup, I can generate a complete cutlist for a project. From what I've seen, so far, I'll be limited to a list of parts with lengths, widths and depth.
Other than those two REQUIREMENTS, OnShape is perfect. I love it so far. Without those two REQUIREMENTS, I'll be back into the search.

If you know how to solve these issues with OnShape, please chime in. This could be the CAD I've long sought for.
Unless it was added in later version, I think that all you can do is assign different colors to parts or faces. There may be some custom apps in their apps store that will give you grain pattern or other sorts of textures but I don't think it is a native capability. There is some sort of cut list feature associated with the Parts Studio but not sure that it is the same as the SU cut list extension and have not tried using it yet.

EDIT to add: You might check out the BOM (bill of materials) tables it can create too.
It sounds like you're ready to adopt OnShape, but have you tried SketchUp 2017? It lets you create your own materials/textures from image files. I do it all the time for my models.

In this model of our kitchen, I created the rug from an image from the vendor's website, the backsplash from a manufacturer's image (and tweaking the jpeg to make the pattern repeat properly), etc.

Furniture Table Building Product Chair

For other projects, I've taken photos of actual lumber and placed them in my models.

It still looks cartoonish compared to the renderings I used to produce with MicroStation (I used to work for Bentley Systems), but they're good enough for my purposes.


See less See more
I'll look into the OnShape store. It's a pretty big Opensource community. If they haven't solved these problems, someone is most likely working on them.

As for SU 2017. I started with 2007. I like it and am pretty good with it. There's some things it can't do because it's not full blow CAD solution. I can deal with that. But, I can't deal with no Warehouse support in app. The app is too removed form their other capabilities that they are starting to sunset supported functionality. When that starts to happen, you either upgrade, or it's time to change. Pretty soon they won't have anything for free that's not cloud based, and all the back versions have already been surpassed by technology. VR, for instance, changes nearly every day. If I don't have a connection, which is often, I'm SOL with a Cloud based app.

I spend a lot of time with these apps, so I'm particular. I'd like to find one app with everything I need. I'd pay, if I can find it. The problem I've been running into is that here's no one app that has everything I'd like in the free version. It may just be an order too big for one vendor to handle, but I won't stop looking until I know: "What I want does not exist.". Thus far, the test drive apps don't have the functionality that I want to test drive. So it's hard to commit.

As of now, OnShape is looking pretty nice.
See less See more
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.