Large Assemblies, Subassemblies and Components

I am a long time CREO/Pro/E user for my professional work so I am quite used to large assemblies with parts and subassemblies where I can work on a part or subassembly as approriate and changes are reflected in the top assembly

Is there anything like that with Sketchup of which I am pretty new to?

As far as I can tell when work on a smaller thing and bring it into a bigger assembly I lose any associativity to the original smaller model/file

Perhaps an extension?


You are sort of right. If you edit a sub-component of an assembly drawing that is itself held as another drawing, it will not automatically update the assembly drawing. But it can be done manually.

To demonstrate, I made a drawing of a door and frame. The door is on one drawing, the frame on another, and both are brought together in a third, assembly, drawing. Then I edited the door drawing. If you know you have done that and want it reflected in the assembly drawing, you can select the component, right click, and choose Reload. The component will then update.

It would be more usual in SU to use Components that are only part of the assembly drawing and do not have separate external files. Then you edit in situ and the changes are made immediately.

Maybe I misunderstood your problem but couldn’t that be done using nested components ( components inside components)?

I don’t know, can it? I am used to working on smaller models, say like a drawer, use that drawer any number of times in a larger assembly. When I want to change the drawer I work on the smaller drawer file and see the updates in the larger assembly. At least that’s what I am used to, trying to find out what SU can do as close to that as possible.

I just tried that and reloaded but that seems more like reinstalling vs updating. Maybe that’s the best I can do.

I would definitely use nested components for your example.
Let’s say you want to model a cabinet that contains three exact drawers inside. First I would model the general cabinet and would turn it onto a component, let’s call it cabinet. Then, doble click onto that component to go inside it, and model one of your drawers, select just the drawer and turn it into a component and call it drawer. Now copy the drawer two more times and place them whenever you need.
If you want to make a change to your drawers, you just need to edit one of those and automatically the rest of them will update. I find this workflow way faster than using different files.

@jespizua’s suggestion describes what I said in my first post about the usual SU way. If I had been making a drawing of that door and frame, I would not have bothered to make external files as it just complicates things and bloats my folder. However…

There are occasions when you might want an external file. For example, suppose I wanted someone else to design the door. With an external file, they could simply produce a drawing independently of me which I could import into my assembly drawing. Multiple drawings makes it easier for collaboration.

Whe I double click the general cabinet component in your example (a good one) can I import a file at that stage with the component activated?

Yes, there are various ways of introducing geometry to an already created component. The most immediate way I’m aware of is by copy/paste in place. So imagine you have a new part of your cabinet, let’s call it base, that you have created outside of your already existing cabinet. First, select your new base component and cut it (edit menu>cut), then doble click inside your cabinet and paste it(edit menu>copy in place). Done!
Another way of doing it would be using the Outliner window. The outliner is a very handy tool to control the hierarchy of your model. You can drag parts and place then inside/outside of other groups/components.

Here you can play with a simple example to illustrate what I said.
Cabinet.skp (90.7 KB)

What sort of models are you planning to do in SketchUp and how will they be used. From what I’m reading, it sounds like the workflow you are asking about and what is being suggested more complicated than it needs to be.

Do you find my workflow complicated? How would you approach it with my example?

You have been very helpful.I had trouble finding the outliner but I see it now and that should help

I was relating how I am used to working and how best to get SU to accomplish that.

You have been very helpful. Thanks but I cannot find that outliner box you show. Took me 15 minutes to find layers were changed to tags in 2020.

Understood. Best wishes.

Hi @greatwhitewing, the outliner should be located in the window menu, maybe is minimised somewhere on your screen?