3DS Max to Sketchup Issue

So I have a model of a chair that looks great in 3DS Max. But when I export it in any format that is Sketchup friendly, the import just imports a 2D circle on the floor. Can someone tell me what I’m doing wrong? Here’s the link to the 3ds Max file:


Have you looked at this?

What export formats did you try? As John says, 3DS might be the safest choice. 3D studio has some ways of creating 3D geometry like spline-based surfaces that SketchUp cannot understand so the best option is to use a format that converts everything to 3D triangulated faces.


I have, but when I do that, I’m left with a 50MB SketchUp file. That’s for nothing but a single chair. I need to put dozens of this chair in some of my renderings, and I use chair models from other sources in SketchUp all the time that are far smaller. So this may be more of a “3DS Export” question than a “SketchUp Import” question. Was just hoping someone here proficient in both can help.

Probably the 3D Studio Max model is too detailed so it converts to a zillion small triangular faces when exported into 3DS. If the 3D Studio 3DS exporter has no settings to reduce polygon count, my best advice is to re-model the chair yourself in SketchUp. This is what I have had to resort to when creating furniture. The manufacturers’ files are usually overly complicated. Use the imported file as a template but do not try to replicate all those minuscule roundings etc that probably blow up the model. For parts with arcs or circles, use as few segments as possible.


Sounds as if it’s an overly complex or over-detailed model. Can you post an image of it?

Or consider redrawing it with simplified detail, sufficient for one chair to be used by the dozen - no small details will be relevant in a larger context.

PS. Anssi got there before I posted this, but I agree with him - for a chair, I’d have thought a 1MB model excessive, let alone 50MB!

PPS. I tried to open your .../7.max link with a 3DS viewer, but it won’t open.

Can you post an image of the chair (e.g., as a screenshot from 3DS max), or a link to the imported 50MB Sketchup file, to get an idea of how complex it would be to remodel from scratch in SU?

I’ve seen cases before in which a system that was geared mainly to visual presentation covered a surface with a vast number of triangles, even when the surface didn’t seem all that complicated. The small narrow triangles let the graphics card do smooth rendering without visible edges. So long as the GC has enough memory, the application just pumps the triangles over to it and lets it fly. That’s how games get the images and performance they do. But SketchUp croaks on such models because it wants to create a database of edges and faces in the main memory and CPU and let the user interactively edit it. The edge and face database takes a lot more memory than simpler triangle representations and the CPU struggles to deal with it. These differences are why high-end gaming graphics cards are a waste for SketchUp. They don’t address the main bottleneck.

The only “fix” I’ve found is to redraw the object using SketchUp. Unless it has really necessary fine details, this will generally yield a much smaller model.

.Max files open only with 3D Studio Max, there is not even a viewer available and the format is proprietary to Autodesk.


I downloaded AutoDesk’s FBX viewer which I thought said it opened 3DS files. Must check specs - it appeared not to choke on the file, but showed only a small gridded area and no model.

I don’t have, and have never used, 3D Studio Max.

There are many ways to open .3ds files, including using SketchUp. Unfortunately, most 3DS users save as .max, which as Anssi says can only be opened by 3DS Max itself.

For SketchUp Make users who need to open a .3ds or .fbx file there is Autodesk’s FBX Converter, which can export Collada:


Thanks for the input. For those of you who had asked for other files, here you go:

Original 3DS Max file: http://www.ethosource.com/downloads/7.max

Screenshot of chair in 3DS Max: http://www.ethosource.com/downloads/chair_3ds.jpg

SketchUp file of what happens when I try to export DWG from 3DS and import into Sketchup: http://www.ethosource.com/downloads/Apex-CAD-Import.skp

Successful import of chair into Sketchup, but file is 75MB: http://www.ethosource.com/downloads/Apex-Task.skp

Here’s a sample of a small object (a caster) that is covered by an excessive amount of tiny triangle geometry. It actually isn’t that complicated and could be drawn adequately in SketchUp using a much smaller amount of geometry.