How to permute a regular component across a non-regular Net?

Would really like some help with this project I’m working on - I’ve been developing a proof of concept for a patented invention thats drifting passed my modeling abilities - I’m trying to figure out what tools/extensions are out there I can use/ combine to achieve this… & perhaps find collaborators in developing this system :slight_smile: Maybe its barking up the wrong tree trying to develop this in Sketchup but have a strong affinity (& seperation anxiety) for the program!

What it is:
Its sets of 3 flat panels that structurally engage each other to form tetrahedral modules that can then link in with other tetrahedral modules to make structural forms with no additional means of fastening required. all my prototypes thus far incorporate modules with repeating similar parts, like equilateral and isocodles shaped tetrahedrons. For instance I’ve built all the platonic solids and some geodesic shapes. I have the geometry all set up CAD so that aspects of the module can be switched out for iterating different module types quickly.

What I want it to do:
I would like to build irregular structures with the same underlying connective invention - I want to layout a 3D triangular mesh/net then make it so the module gets mapped once per triangle in the mesh/net - The module distorts contingent to the vertices moving to match each irregular triangular instance on the net- so the modules mesh together along the same lines as the net layout.

From there I would need a way to layout all the planar components easily to be machined.

The one tricky detail that comes up…the panels slot and the slot gap is contingent on the thickness of the panels & the angle they join . In other words different panels need different slot widths. I would be interested in finding ways to automate it but don’t mind doing it by hand for now- and generally interested in finding other ways of modulating the form.

Thanks for considering this… I really appreciate you having a look. If your interested in photos of the prototypes or more detailed info please PM me :slight_smile: . Also I’m open to working with people that would like to use the system in there own projects- projects I can use as a precident. Am looking to establish p2p relationships on this so PM if interested-

P.S is there any other disscussion topics I can try posting this under??? is it bad form to post the same question in more than one topic?

Much Thanks,


SketchUp does not have a native “snap grid” (orthogonal or otherwise.) All it has is “glue to components” that snap onto faces (any, horizontal, vertical.)

But there are some extensions that create orthogonal construction (guideline) grids that can be used for alignment. (Perhaps you need something similar ?)

SketchUp also does not have native “glue points” (like Visio for example,) … but SketchUp’s native inferencing does like to snap vertices to vertices. But you would need to rotate the part into place as a second step.

Thanks for getting back Dan - Thats helpful I forgot the term ‘glue to’

I should mention that the 3 panels of the module are componants- so I’m trying to transform all 3 in combination each time- each panel has slotting elements with low tolerances- the slots could potentially be added back to the panels after they are tranformed for the net. I’ve tried to use freedo scale but it just creates an aproximation - I think I needsomething like fredo scaled where the shape distorts around the vertices being glued to particular points.

Maybe Im looking for something like the distort tool in photoshop but 3d and insteed of manipulating it from a binding box manipulating the form from the verticies. do the newer versions of freedo scale let you do this? the last version i used was for sketchup 7

Thanks again .

You can create one component like this:

and use a guidepoint in the center of the spheres as a reference for “snapping” (in the xray mode) …

Another variation with one component, which contains of

  • a simple triangle on its own layer
  • the complex triangle on its own layer

With this, you can layout the simple triangles as you like and change to the complex one with only changing the visible layers…