I have ceased to use the regular Sketchup’s import DWG method and changed it for the “TrimBIM” method.
This method is great!
This method allows for text imports, everything is much better organized by components with layers applied instead of layers being applied to geometry, (components don’t seem to be honored as every instance of a block seems to be made into an unique component) and it looks much closer to the original, as solid hatches are converted to faces with materials applied.
This method has problems.
The results should be improved, especially as CAD blocks should be converted to instanced Sketchup Components.
However, what should be really improved and fixed, is the convoluted method that we are required to use, in order to be able to convert the DWG file to TrimBIM and then import it into Sketchup.
All the steps could be automated and become a one click solution. I don’t see why won’t you good folks at Trimble do it, as it would be an incredible upgrade for Sketchup users.
Even so, this is a huge step forward in terms of DWG import results and I never used the standard Sketchup import method since I found this one.
I hope this post helps you use this too, but I mostly hope Trimble uses this post to fix the process.
Install Trimble Connect for Windows
I’m not going into those processes in detail.
The first thing we need to do is have a Trimble Connect Account (that comes included in a Studio Subscription).
If you have it you can download Trimble Connect for Windows and, eventually Trimble Connect Sync.
Set all things so you can see your files online.
I have set Trimble Connect Sync to mirror my Desktop’s working folders online and then I have changed the process as a two way sync between the desktop and the web folders.
As long as the file shows up in Trimble Connect Web, it will also show up on Trimble Connect for Windows.
You can also import a file from windows directly to trimble Connect for Windows, but then you’ll be just duplicating it somewhere in a hidden folder of your disk, with a strange name that you won’t be able to read. A bit stupid so I don’t do it.*
How to Convert a DWG as TrimBIM and then import it into Sketchup?
The process of converting the file is a simple right click on the file in Trimble Connect for Windows and selecting the Convert to TrimBIM option.
However, having the file show in Trimble Connect for Windows and endup importing it to Sketchup is a huge process:
Have your file in your windows folder.
To have the file show up in Connect first I Sync the file to Connect or upload it directly.
I do this by either:
2.1. Syncing the file and folder via Trimble Connect Sync.
2.2. Or Creating a twin folder in Trimble Connect and drag and drop the file;
Differences in both options:
3.1 Option 2.1 requires waiting for all the files to Sync. Trimble Connect Sync can be scheduled or manual but it’s not like Dropbox and it isn’t permanently syncing. My working files have, sometimes, hundreds of Mbytes so if I perform a manual sync, the wait might be long.
3.2. Option 2.2 requires manual work. This is faster but requires you to think and navigating the web. I hate both thinking and navigating to the rigth folder, when I already did that on windows. If I type anything wrong I might endup with Syncing issues too, and might endup duplicating files.
After the file exists in Trimble Connect Web we can refresh Trimble Connect for Windows and it will also appear there.
Find the file inside Trimble Connect for Windows and rigth click it.
Choose the Convert to TrimBIM option
Choose the folder in windows where you want to save the file.
It’s interesting that you can save the file in a windows folder, but not anywhere in Connect for Windows or Web.
Importing the TrimBIM file to Sketchup
- Sketchup 2023 seems to allow for TrimBIM format to be imported so this should be easy via File > Import, navigate to the Windows folder where you stored it and import. It doesn’t work though.
- You’ll have to import the file from File > Trimble Connect > Import File
However, in order to do that, the file must exist on the cloud, in Trimble Connect Web.
If you did it right though, the file is somewhere in windows.
So you have to:
5.1. Either sync the file to web via Trimble Connect Sync (again)
5.2 Or drag and drop it to a Trimble Connect Web Folder (which might be easier if you had created the folder already in the convert step above)
Now you can go to File > Trimble Connect > Import File
This will open a web browser on top of sketchup that allows you to navigate all your projects and folders and select the file.
Wait a bit and click in the model.
The TrimBIM file will show as a component.
The origin of the TrimBIM will be the same as the DWG file and will be placed where you clicked so you might not see it in your screen.
Select all and zoom extents or zoom selected if you get lost.
You’ll be annoyed if you have to import multiple files as you will be back to navigating all your projects and folders for each time you import. Trimble Connect inside Sketchup, should remember the last folder you opened when working with a model.
Beware of DWG files that have the origin far away from the drawings as well as DWG files that have drawings all over the place. These will cause accuracy, navigation and display errors in your model.
To fix these files I recommend using a plugin called CG Adjust-N-Export | SketchUp Extension Warehouse
CG Adjust and Export will allow you to move the file so that it’s origin moves to the Sketchup model origin and it also allows you to change the origin of the Component to match the Sketchup origin.