I would like to create piping schematics and need help

Hi, I am new to SketchUp and I am trying to make good schematics that include components and piping. The tutorial have gotten far enough along to create the basic components but now I would like to add piping, filters and pumps. Any suggestions as to where to turn? I am working on natural swimming pools and plant based wastewater treatment systems in their conceptual stage.


What level of detail do you want to work in?

And what’s the big picture here?. . . do you plan on doing this sort of thing a lot?, or is it more of a one time thing?

RE: Pipe modeling. . .

If you take the rough approach… then you could do a lot by simply extruding circles along a path via the ‘follow me’ tool.

If you’re looking for a detailed schematic (to include the fittings), then I think I’d spend time in advance assembling a parts library for all of the fittings that you’ll be using the most. Model them yourself, or gather them up from the 3D Warehouse.

Either way the main thing here will be to build up a component library so that all of your standard fittings are ready to go and can be brought into the model whenever you need them. [… the merits of this being conditional to how often you’ll be doing it].

I think it’s also worthwhile adding in a little jig for easy alignment and assembly between the parts. Doing so will help speed up all of the connections you’ll have between the pipe and the various fittings.

x-ray mode will make these visible, or you can assign them onto a layer which can be toggled on/off.

As far as modeling Pumps, Filters, or any of the other components you might be using. Try looking for Spec sheets on the manufacturers website. Some industries have models already drawn up for Engineers and Architects. . . if available grabbing those will be a good way to go — even if you have to convert the format around some.

And if models aren’t available, then having the drawings on the spec sheets will still be useful for reference while you model things yourself. They can be traced over and scaled, or just referenced for a model made from scratch.

That’s just a hodgepodge of ideas for now… I may actual have good advice if I can tailor it to a more specific set of goals and outcomes on your end. I’m just not sure what the quality level is here (rough vs. detailed), OR, how often it will be done.

Take Care,


You can have a look at this plugin ($) if you need this function a lot…

I’d very much endorse what JimD said. In particular, think hard about ‘what level of detail do you want to work in’?

Some pre-made components, either from manufacturers, or on the 3D warehouse, use grossly excessive numbers of segments in circles, and far too much other detail in their models. When incorporated into assembly diagrams, they bloat the model, especially if they are not made from components or groups.

Remember at what degree of close up you will be viewing your final drawings, and limit the details in pipefittings and pipework accordingly. For the pipes, you probably don’t need to model the wall thickness (simple cylinders may do the trick) and you will probably not need the default 24-segment circles for your pipes - try 12 or even 8. Make sure that the segment number is the same for all pipes and all fittings (if you draw them yourself) - it’s a nightmare to try to join, in 3D, a 16 segment pipe to a 24 segment fitting, and even if you manage to align it centrally, the junction will look wrong. Put construction points at key locations like pipe end centres, flange centres, etc.

For an example of simplification applied to standard scaffolding fittings (drawn with minimalist 8-segment circles) see my drawings at https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/model.html?id=b2c271fa-24f7-4701-ad36-354325001c44

And try TIG’s plugins PipeAlongPath or TubeAlongPath to draw the pipes more easily than just using the native FollowMe tool, as well as a Points plugin (e.g., PointTool) to make drawing construction points easy. You can get them at no cost (after free registration) from the SkectchUcation plugin store.

The big picture is; I would like to use SketchUp as a conceptual design
tool. Therefore I don’t need to have detailed components, it is just a
powerful tool to have in the conceptual design phase. Do you have any
advice on how to make the follow me tool work in open space?

Thanks for getting back to me.

Not sure what you mean by getting FollowMe tool to work ‘in open space.’

It will follow a 3D polyline or sections of arcs, lines, or any other shape, not necessarily in the same plane, so long as you select the line(s) before invoking FollowMe on a face shape (or circle, for pipes) to extrude along the line.

It does have a tendency to rotate the face depending on the direction of the lines it is following, but that shouldn’t matter much for circles. But if it does matter, there’s a plugin by Eneroth, called Upright Extruder, that deals with that. It’s on the Extension Warehouse at

FYI There are a number of tutorials on subject;

For more complex models you want to use components so you can control visibility for what you are working on.

My Take on the Follow Me tool is that it’s mostly about making good path constructions.

Two things have definitely helped out a lot. . .

  • Get the plug-in called ‘Weld’… it will join individual paths together so that they act as one. The benefit being mostly that it’s easy to select a large and complicated path after you’ve joined it all together — you only need to click on a small section of it, and the entire welded path gets selected even if it’s off of the computer screen.

  • Create a custom keyboard shortcut for the follow me tool… and for that matter maybe one for the Weld Plug-in too.

Between easy path selection, and fast tool activation — there is a surprising amount of time you can save with just these two things.

Don’t hesitate to build 3D models at times when they can help to establish a controlled path.

It can seem counter intuitive… but often the best approach to drawing a path is to rely on the results of having used the 'intersection tool upon some 3D shapes that you drew into your model space.

Equally important… Don’t forget that you can make great use of the ‘scale’ and ‘rotate’ tool for path modification. And they don’t always have to be applied to the entire path either. You can often rotate or scale just a section of the path to get some great results. Enter in the ‘Explode Curve’, and ‘Convert to Polygon’, commands (as they’re found on the right click context menu where appropriate).

I tried using su to make cutting templates for joining tubes (for a bicycle frame/brazing). The intersect tool is great for this BUT the snag is you have to flatten out the curve line made at the intersection and this is slow and tedious.

I havent found a neat way to do this yet but maybe someone knows and it would be a useful item for construction

Could you describe this in more detail please and provide an example skp file? I don’t know what you mean…

A great tutorial thx



Rather then use the intersection tool. As an (additional / alternative) method. . .

Try out the ‘Paste in place’ command in conjunction with the ‘Solid>Subtract’ command.

You can basically make a copy of the tube which you’re going to use as the cutting tube for the subtract command.

…and run the ‘paste in place’ command (after the subtract cmd) to bring back your original tube. . . from there you can do a Solid>Union or whatever else was in your normal workflow.

There will be a small amount of clean up to do on the tube which was cut into depending upon how you positioned them beforehand.

A quick pipe joint, see the curved line at the intersect. The smaller pipe has to be split
open and flattened out o make a cutting template

while im here, i couldnt seem to upload the original .skp of this? is there another way to share models?

cheers robin

i only have the fresh su2016, no extra extension yet so i dont have solid/extract too (but remember it from su8)

i dont know that it makes a difference cos the result would be the same and you still have the pain of flattened the curve so it can be printed out and used as a template to wrap around the tube (remember how this used to be done in engineering drawing classes?

The Solid tools come with Pro or the time-limited Pro-trial if you installed Make.
That might be why you can’t see them ?
If you have Pro then look in the Extensions list to check if they are activated, and the Toolbars to see if their toolbar also needs activation…
If you want to ‘unfold’ surfaces there are tools to do that - e.g.
[Get a free account to be able to download it]

According to your profile, you have SketchUp Make which doesn’t include the solids tools available in Pro. You will need to use the intersect with… command instead to generate the joint. Look up tutorials on this tool to see how it works. You should use a moderately high number of segments in the circles used for the tubes because otherwise the unrolled shape will have a smaller circumference than the real tube (SketchUp approximates circles with many-sided polygons. The perimeter of an inscribed polygon is smaller than the circumference of the circle). That’s a tradeoff - the more segments, the closer the approximation but the model will have more geometry in it and will respond worse.

Then use a plugin such as flattery to unroll the tube into a flat surface. Because the longitudinal edges of the tube (as represented in SketchUp) are straight lines, the flattening should produce a shape that has the profile of the joint at one end.

Thanx for that guys, I am so used to su8 which can do all these things and the many extensions i installed. i am waiting to untangle sketchucation cos they have misplaced my login with their new system, and i hadnt visited for several years

can anyone point to a list of comparison between make and pro and any other versions so i dont waste time looking for something thats not there

update, i found a workaround to get a proper cutout and can detail if interested, but most of you are running pro iguess so dont need it

I got sketchucation up and running, thanx Rich, and have dld Flattery, but no tips on how to make it work. it does nothing?

here’s my tube cutout

Now I have to roll it out

i will try cutting it in half which is what I would do for the manual method of flattening (tedious)

You may want to give Flattery a try.

Couple clicks and I got this:

(not tedious :grinning:)

quite right, I finally got the manual on Flattery

and it all became clear (why cant the link be put in the dl info in the first place?

I got this for a cutting template, needs a bit of smoothing perhaps withBezier, but its there and can be turned into cnc code

A proper pipe designer would do this of course $$$$

good for developable surfaces

Well there’s an afternoon gone but we cracked it.

Im gonna pose another topic on points in space

Cheers all