I am writing to express sincere appreciation to the SketchUp development team regarding the 2020 release. In particular, the ability to edit Groups in context is a remarkable improvement. This capability allows you to see other components, and to snap to them while editing inside of a group.
I design a lot of 3D plastic parts, and Sketchup has never been good at that where parts need to fit together, or when printing multi-color or multi-material parts. The ability to edit Groups in context completely fixes this.
With 3D printing, many printers such as the Prusa require that you produce closed volumes for each color or material to be printed. You basically submit multiple parts that fit perfectly together. In the past, producing such parts has been almost impossible because a single surface needs to be closing each volume, and each volume must be exported individually. There has been no good way to export a portion of these Siamese twins. In short, color printing, and making parts that fit together has been horrid under Sketchup.
Now, it is easy. You create the first part and put it into a Group. Then, create a new Group on a different Tag/Layer. The new/second part can be a separate part that fits or can be a different color or material. When editing the second part you can snap-to the mating points on the original part. And, the new part has separate surfaces and lines that are distinct from the original. So you can enable displaying the one part you want to print (turn on only that layer) and then select all and then export only the selected components. You get an STL file that Prusa or other printers can accept. Repeat this for each part or material and import them as “Add parts” in Prusa slicer. What’s great is that everything fits perfectly.
I do find a few things still quite awkward, and would like these to be considered as development suggestions:
It is awkward to start a new part. You must create a new layer. Then, you must draw a “bogus” (disposable) surface, then make it into a Group. Now, you can Open the Group for editing and can create the real part, and only after creating several surfaces can you delete the “bogus” surface you originally created to form the Group.
A cleaner user interface would be to designate a Layer/Tag as “isolated” or a “Layer Group”. Turning on that option would mean that this layer was also a Group. Moving the pencil to the layer would open the “Layer Group”. It would be much more obvious and straightforward to create parts:
- Create a Layer.
- Mark the Layer as a “Layer Group” or an “Isolated Layer”. (This creates a Group behind the scenes)
- Whenever the pencil is on an “Isolated Layer” the group is opened.
In effect, this would give Isolated Layers complete isolation from other parts of the model. You could then use Layers to run on and off features, rooms, parts, etc as desired. It would fulfill the one feature long missing from Sketchup.
Before the “Editing in Context” of Groups, it was impossible to size, fit, move or precisely mimic the mating surfaces. Now, it is easy, straightforward, and a true joy to use. (But still a pain to set up.)
Adding the “Isolated Layer” or “Grouped Layer” feature would round this out, nd make it easy to get going without having to create bogus parts, etc.
There are no words to describe how this feature has made Sketchup so much better for 3D printing where parts must precisely mate.
I also do architectural work, and it will be great to be able to have rooms and elements within a room that can be sized and fitted precisely.