All this talk about fabricator tools has got me fired up about exploring some fabrication of my own, potentially using a Makerbot, or a send-away service like Shapeways. Though these aren't close to fully humble methods of making, they are useful steps to master on the path to a true humblefactory. As free cad packages go, Google's Sketchup is pretty great. You have decent control over meshes, and you can easily edit dimensional information. However, the limitations of the free version don't allow export to any format but Google Earth's proprietary .KMZ format, which can't be used by 3d printers, or imported by Blender for conversion. Previous recommendations of users involved using the 30 day trial of the "Pro" sketchup, which can export various formats. Amazingly, though, this extra step isn't necessary, because .kmz is just a renamed .zip archive! That's right -- renaming the extension and opening in a Zip extractor will yeild a .dae file, which can be imported by Blender using an included import script. Check out a more in-depth tutorial here. This is a huge boon for modelers looking to share files on Thingiverse, or to looking toward making their first open, humblefactured objects.


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