Converting Google SketchUp Models into CAD Friendly Format

In the past I’ve had the need to bring in some dummy resource geometry into my DELMIA simulation. Instead of spending time modeling it in a CAD program like CATIA, ProE, NX, or any other software, I always surf the web to see if someone has already done it. In this particular case I was looking for a CNC machine 3D model. Of course you can use this procedure for just about anything you find in Google SketchUp. If you haven’t hear about Sketchup you can lear more here. It’s basically free 3D CAD software with a built in user community so you can post and share models. You don’t have to have SketchUp installed to do this, but it’s pretty cool software if you ever need to model something quick, plus you can download other users models directly into your project.

So here are the steps…..

  • Go to the Google SketchUp 3D Warehouse here.
  • Now search for a model, and click on one that you might want. In my case I was looking for a CNC machine. So I typed CNC and found the Hurco VM1 someone had modeled.
  • Now click the Download Model button, and get the Collada .zip file and save it to your computer.
  • Unzip the file and you should get several folders and files. Your interested in a file with an extension of “.dae”. It is usually located in a models folder.

I’m not aware of any CAD programs that will open a .dae file directly, but you may want to check yours just in case. If it will then you can stop here. If not then you’ll need to convert the .dae file. In comes Autodesk to the rescue. Autodesk offers a free tool called the Autodesk FBX Converter. You can download it here. Look for the FBX Converter about half way down the page.

More steps…

  • Download and install the Autodesk FBX Converter.
  • Open the FBX Converter and click the Add… button under the Source files box.
  • Under the Destination format just leave it on FBX 2011.
  • This should give you a .fbx file. Now you are going to do another conversion.
  • Click the Remove all button under the Source files box and Add the .fbx file you just created.
  • Now change the Destination format to DXF and hit the convert button.
  • Now you should have a .dxf file.

This is where you might say… hey I recognize the .dxf file format. DXF files are fairly common and several CAD packages can read them in directly. For example I was able to read it into ProE and then use the CATIA translator module license in ProE to finally get the file into CATIA format and use it in my DELMIA simulation. This works great if you just need some dummy geometry to visualize, but the model will be tessalated and you can’t do much with it. In my case I was able to add some real geometry to it in ProE by creating some datum planes based off the tessalated data points. Here is a picture of the final model in DELMIA.

One Response to “Converting Google SketchUp Models into CAD Friendly Format”

  1. One thing to note is that you may have to try different versions of the FBX file. Sometimes I have better luck with the FBX 2006.

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