I have been using Sketchup as a 3D visualization tool for over a year. For preliminary design, it has been very useful for developing ideas and allowing our management team to view the designs in a sketch format, as opposed to the finished final look of a typical 3D design package. It allows me to quickly make changes to the design or to explore other options that could also work for a given project. Once approved, the design can be quickly exported to a 3D package, as needed, to see how finishes or lighting will accommodate the design. It can also be exported to a CAD package to be sent out for bids and to manufacturers for construction of the fixtures.
This recently worked well with a project that required a very quick turn around time. This mall kiosk was designed, engineered, built, and installed in 12 mall locations in a little over 3 months. SketchUp allowed me to communicate my design ideas both to the in-house management team and to the malls for approval of the design. SketchUp also allowed me to easily create my orthogonal and perspective drawings from the 3D model so getting a set of working drawings to the manufacturer for engineering and construction was simple. All changes could be drawn up quickly and conveyed to the appropriate parties in a visual format that they understood and/or needed from the same 3D model.
I was able to take some of the same Sketchup images and put them into a desktop publishing package to quickly create an instructional booklet on the setup, function, and care of the kiosk. A separate packet was also put together to send to any malls requesting information on the kiosk design as well.
Sketchup has been an invaluable tool in a fast-paced environment. The program is easy to learn and is virtually invisible when working on a design idea, allowing me to quickly get my ideas across without having to think about catering to the needs of the program.
-Phillip Wharton www.alltel.com