I need help on the free web version

This is my first time using a 3D editing software. I build model jets that I fly and I wanted to try designing one on here. Once I make a model that I like, is there a way to lay the model out flat and print it all on paper so that I can tape the paper to a material and cut it out to the right size? Ive created a full 3d model of a J10 fighter jet and I just want to lay all of the outer surface area of the jet out flat to print it.

I did my best to describe this, but a useful source that may help some understand my question is a site called -flite test- they sell boards of precut foam and you just punch the pieces out and glue them together to make the plane. That is what I want to do.


I don’t use the Web version, so I’m not sure what the toolset options are for you.

If you look behind the tape measure icon… you can find the Section Plane tool. This is a great way to create a section cut through your model from any angle and position you could come up with. In the Pro version of SU you can run a command called ‘Create Group from Slices’… and that will in turn generate a set of contour lines that match the angle and position of your section plane.

However, I can’t confirm if the Web version has this option, or if it goes by another name… but it would be my favorite goto tool for this sort of thing.

Absent of this option, you can get the same results manually, by positioning a rectangular plane (no pun intended) onto the model and running the command intersect faces.

Either way, the results should give you a nice set of contour lines that can be used as a cutting path for various machining options… BUT you’ll need to make sure that the file formats match the process you are wanting to use. and that should be pretty easy to figure out.

IF neither of these options are available, then it’s probably a good time to ditch the Web version, and download the SU 2017 version… so you can have access to a more complete toolset, and a desktop version of SU Make albeit the 2017 edition.

Thankyou so much for the long reply! Once again I am not too familiar with 3D modeling so this was a little confusing but I think I understand most of what you said. My main question is how do I run commands?

If None of the commands you provided work, would it be possible for me to make a duplicate of the plane that I have created and then take all of the pieces apart and lay them out flat to print them? If so, How would I duplicate it, and how would I print them off?

Once again thanks for the response, I appreciate it!

I wasn’t sure before, but now I know that you DO have all of best tools for this in the SU Web version. The term “command” sounds more serious than I mean it… when I say run a command it’s the same thing as ‘using a tool’.

[… in the old days of AutoCad… we all got to type in commands into the command line in order to kick off a process… I’m one of the few people who really misses the command line input system, and I guess it shows up in how I explain my workflow when using SketchUps tools :slight_smile: ]

SUWeb Section cut(w_index_keys)


The animation shows the basic process:

  1. choosing the Section Plane tool
  2. Trying to align it to a circular object… and what you probably should be looking for is an angle parallel with one of the 3 standard planes in the xyz coordinate system.

2a… use the arrow keys (on your keyboard) to lock onto a fixed direction/plane.

  • up arrow = top view — blue axis (xy plane)
  • left arrow = front view — green axis (zx plane)
  • right arrow = side view — red axis (zy plane)

if you don’t lock onto one of the fixed directions… then SU is going to auto align itself along one of the facets of your models geometry… to better see these facets turn ON the view hidden geometry settings and it will become more obvious what’s going on with the auto alignment decisions that SU is making.

  1. Use the Move tool to slide the section plane into position

  2. right click on the section plane… and select the create group from slices command.

    [ in the video here that first right click menu came up small… and didn’t include the option we needed. The 2nd right click was good but I had positioned it outside of the video frame so nobody could see it (which is an advanced animation trick that only an expert would use)… Learning from mistakes the 3rd attempt worked as it should… but you might notice that i reactivated the move tool and slide the section plane around again before trying for a 3rd time). SU for Web is buggy on my browser, which is why I know so little about it ]

  3. delete section plane (or hide it)

  4. select the new group you made from step 4 and move into an open area.

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Yes. You would group faces, copy and paste them, and then rotate them into a flattened position. Then you could move them so they are connected as you like, flat. I don’t see why section panes would be necessary in any way.

Section Plane support the Create Group from Slices command… and that lets him take cross sections from anywhere along the models geometry.

1’ increments from front to back can generate contours of all of the standard stages in his designs… and that would come into play if he ever started to need cnc cutouts for frame construction of his own designs and builds.

As it stands know, it looks like there is only one main section cut that’s needed at the moment… one that’s down the center of the fuselage… and I guess another that aligns with the wings.

I think he wants the outer surfaces of a 3D model not just the cross sections for two pieces. So section planes wouldn’t be necessary. Simply “unfolding” it might be what he’s looking to do.

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Yes, I’m not great at explaining stuff, but imagine I made a 3D box. I want to take that box and simply unfold it into 6 squares that I can print out, and then tape that paper to a piece of balsa or foamboard and cut it out and then remake that box but in real life. That is what I need to do with the plane.

Once again, I am sorry for not explaining things well.

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That’s what I figured. I recommend selecting each face, making it a group, and copy and pasting it to the side so you can rotate it flat and then arrange the pieces one by one into your final piece.

I wonder, if you made it be a component, and in the model area you had to make changes, the copy off to the side would also update.

For your style of project you would be better off installing the desktop version 2017 Make then you could use the Extension called Flattery that will allow you to unfold your models. It’s a bit fiddly but works.


There are a couple of other unfold extension, each has its foibles.


That seems like it would work, how do I print it off in that scenario? If I just took a screenshot of all the flat pieces and printed it I feel like it would mess up the shape and sizes of the pieces