I've developed this SketchUp plugin for the enthusiast designer (somebody who can't justify expensive software for a hobby). It will allow you to use the 3D design package SketchUp (available free), along with a Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) editor like Inkscape (open source), to create 2D shapes for laser cutting or milling.
Please be aware that I'm a novice designer and Ponoko user. As I learn... you learn... Hopefully the laser cutting experts can give us novices some advice and guidance.
The Instructable - Designing for Ponoko Laser Cutting with SketchUp and Inkscape (a study in cubes) - is now available as the final installment.
Step 1: Introduction - What You Need
Let's start the tutorial process with some modest goals. We'll start with a SketchUp cube, create parts that can be laser cut, and then export these 3D parts to SVG (as 2D) by concentrating on SketchUp object faces.
The SVG file can then be imported into a Ponoko template in Inkscape, an EPS can be saved, and then uploaded to the Ponoko website for laser cutting.
You will need:
- Google SketchUp 6
- A free Ponoko account
- Ponoko Starter Kit for Inkscape
- The SVG Plugin for Google Sketchup - See the readme in the zip file, or read the Wiki for installation instructions.
- Windows (XP or Vista - 32 or 64 bit) or Mac OSX (at this stage)
Flights of Ideas