SketchUp models are three-dimensional models used by design professionals to showcase projects, products, and design concepts. Building and landscape product manufacturers can use SketchUp models to provide the design community with valuable product information that can be incorporated into SketchUp projects.

We met up with Justin Furtado, CAD Technician and SketchUp Specialist at CADdetails, to ask him some questions and learn more about SketchUp models for building product manufacturers.

What Drew You to SketchUp?

While there is demand for SketchUp, there are not a lot of people working with building product manufacturers to make these models available to the AEC community. I enjoy working in 3D because you can really see what the product is and how it looks. SketchUp can do a lot to help with design and planning. The world is heading in this direction, so it is essential to stay in step with the design community in order to make it easy for them to specify manufacturers’ products.

In What Easy Are SketchUp Models Flexible and Versatile for the Design Community?

SketchUp is simple and easy to use. Getting started in SketchUp is straightforward. There is less of a learning curve than Revit, making it more accessible for smaller firms. There are also plenty of third-party programs that can help you create organic shapes and details you would see within the model.  There is also flexibility in terms of the files you work with in SketchUp. You can import a variety of file types into SketchUp, and you can also export a variety of file types from SketchUp. This lets you add what you work with in SketchUp to other 3D software.

What Makes SKP a Great Marketing Tool for Visualization?

SketchUp can fill a gap in visualization when compared to BIM. BIM is more about information than visualization. You get a different visual impact from BIM than you do from a SketchUp model. With SketchUp, you can create a render for a SketchUp model to show off the details in the wood, you can show the shine and reflections from metal, and you can create the roughness of concrete. Small details and organic elements, such as grass, show up very well in SketchUp.

You Have Mentioned Caddetails Creates SketchUp Models to Scale. Why Is It Important That SKP Models Are Typically Made to Scale?

Creating building product manufacturer models to scale is important because you get the reference between different parts of the product. If you have a table that is 2 feet by 4 feet and legs that are 4 feet, everything should be relative to each other. Creating models to scale ensures an accurate depiction of products. This enables the model to communicate accurate information about the product, and the product can work correctly in a project. 

How Do SketchUp Models Work with Various 3D Design Files?

With SketchUp, you can export to 3DS, DWG, Object files, and FBX. You can encounter restrictions, however, particularly with textures. There are file types that can help overcome those restrictions. For example, Collada files separate the model and the texture. This also means you can import them and then use the same textures on another model file.

Can You Work with File Types Like Revit or 2D CAD to Create SketchUp Models?

For Revit, you would need to add an extra step rather than just importing a Revit file into SketchUp. You would export Revit into an AutoCAD file, and that AutoCAD file can then be brought into SketchUp. SketchUp cannot directly work with Revit files. 

SketchUp does work with AutoCAD files. You can also export the various views of a model and create a 2D CAD file from SketchUp while keeping all of the views relative to each other.

Do You Need to Add a Significant Amount of Work or Finesse to 2D CAD to Create a SketchUp Model?

The amount of work required will depend on what the drawing is. For example, if you are working with something like a floor or turf section, SketchUp can create the 3D geometry with the information from the AutoCAD drawing. However, a 2D daring with many pieces, like a playground system, would be much more time-consuming. This is due to the complexity of shapes and details.

What Types of Products Make the Best SKP Models?

A lot of products do great with SketchUp models. All landscape and building products make great SketchUp models.  Site furnishings, windows, doors, claddings and wall sections, exteriors, finishes, roofing, and pretty much anything can work in SketchUp. SketchUp is great for showing off systems by working with sections of products such as turf.

What Types of Products Do Not Make For Good SKP Models?

Using a lot of detail in SketchUp can create files that are too large. SketchUp files that are too large become hard for the designer to work with. Complex products with a high degree of detail can be problematic. For example, play systems can be difficult because of how complex the structures are. The files can end up too large. If we are building the SketchUp model from scratch, the details involved can be time-consuming to work with for complicated products or systems. 

Are Designers Able to Incorporate Caddetails SKP Models into Their Projects?

The SketchUp models on CADdetails are all ready to go and able to be brought into a project. It will be scaled and can just be downloaded and dropped into an existing SketchUp project.

What Limitations Should Manufacturers Be Aware Of?

Sometimes the level of detail will not be done to an extreme degree. With SketchUp, you will get a high level of detail, but you may not see small things like a screw where something attaches. Including these things can make the models too large. Manufacturers should keep in mind that an ideal SketchUp model finds a balance between the amount of detail and file size. If the file gets too large, the model takes up too much processor power and makes the program too slow. The file becomes unusable for the user, and they are unable to add such a large file to their projects. Our purpose in creating manufacturer SketchUp is to make it easier for designers to include those products in their projects. 

If you are a landscape or building product manufacturer that would like to explore SketchUp development for your products, reach out to us at CADdetails or set up a time for a demonstration!

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