Need help aligning all my parts to a plane- advice appreciated

I have just started out with Sketch Up- I created my model placing each part where it belongs spatially. Now I am ready to try and create a file suitable to have all the parts cut by laser. So I am trying to get all my parts flat onto a plane so I can produce a 2d file. I am moving so slowly- trying to move each part individually. Is there an easier way? I am having difficulty learning the rotate tool… I have laboriously moved and rotated the parts onto a plane- but many of them are just slightly off.

these are my parts- they are all 3/4" thick.

When I made the model many of them were placed approx 2 1/2 degrees off the horizontal plane. I am finding it hard to get them all flat now… Is this something that can be achieved in layout? Whats the easiest quickest way? Or do I just need to perfect my orientation/rotate skills?

It seems I have gone about making my model the wrong way- is there some way I could have started where I can make my model- but have a copy side by side where all the parts are locked to a given plane? Surely one doesn’t work by creating a model made of many parts all on different planes- then set about manually rotating each and every one onto a plane for producing a cutting file?

Any help/advice at all appreciated.

can you try and upload the file? it should be possible now via icon with arrow up

I am not at home today where my computer is. May I ask why you would need to see the actual file? It’s my secret new beehive design and I am not ready to fully unveil it… :wink:

Just to elaborate- I don’t think there is anything wrong with my model as such- just user error. I am not proficient at using the rotate tool. It seems there must ab an easier way than going to a corner of every part and rotating it to hit the plane.

its much easier to figure the issues with the actual model rather than image and words. you can upload via a private message if you wish, Otherwise its kind of a guessing game where the problems lie,
At a guess, if the pieces are components then its an axis issue, If not then (in my opinion ) they should be components with axis aligned appropriately,
Objects can be moved absolutely [x,y,z] or relative <x,y,z> see IFC Model imports

If you had the professional version, and for those who do, then the dynamic attributes is a quick way to move and rotate the objects to a plane.

So maybe set up a XY plane at 0,0,0 and make it a group and lock it will suffice as a reference plane, move an object [0,0,0] then rotate to suit…too much work

There is an extension called Align created by D.Bur that will make this operation simple, but note its based on the proper alignment of a component. this can be down loaded via window menu…extension warehouse

Maybe I have been able to identify the issues you are having, if not then please send me that private message

Hi again
sometimes the most obvious solution is missed, With the model of the bee hive, make sure each piece is converted to a component with axis strategically placed and originated, properly named.

(axis and insert points can be changed via right click menu on the component if required after changing a group or whatever)

then all you need do is with the home tab selected on the component broswer, select the part definition and a new instance can be placed on a horizontal plane, its rotation already aligned to the current axis

no need for the align plugin, however you may consider a need for it, but personally I try to use the native tools and methods first

sorry- error reply

Hello there Philip,

sorry about the delay in replying and thanks for your help. I think you have identified my problems. Some of my parts are components- and some are groups- also I am thinking my apple cordless mouse is part of the issue- I get too much jumpiness when I try and use the rotate tool- I cannot get things to snap together easily.
anyhow I just sent you an email with my model in it- I would be very happy if you had a look at it for me. I am dying to take this thing from the virtual to the real world.

Where are you in Oz?

south australia

Ok. Bit too far for a house call.

perhaps you can help at distance :wink: basically I am at the point where I need to translate all the parts from my 3d model into a 2d flat file for laser cutting.

Feel free to send the model via a PM. I almost downloaded it before you deleted your email post.
But I’m on my phone at the moment. You’re an jour and a half or so behind me I think.
There is an obscure plugin that will flip everything and lay it flat but I’ll have to look it up.

thanks very much for the offer of help- done- where are you located in Aus?


Have you read the help manual on setting gluing plane and using the enitity definition in it to bulk replace like entities in you model. To start with make sure you have the drawing axis set per your requirements; secondly set the axis of you component so hey import in the orientation you desire
With out model or portion is there may be other problems we are blind too.
If you wanted a very simple say 3 component model could be made so you can post

Hi Beekeeper, I don’t know if my suggestion will help you as I dont know what sort of state your skp file is in but if all your separate parts have been created as components you should be good to follow my suggestion in the uploaded video. If your parts are all still separate, no fear just select all of the parts, right click and select create component, this way they shouldnt shift about and float all over the place when you try to set them to parallel view or parallel projection.
Hope this helps, best of luck with your Beehive!Cheers
PS if you were merely going to cut these shapes out you never should have modelled them in perspective, unecessary.
Next time just click one of the little house icons right hand side of your project , choose the one that says view your model from the top. it should be just to the right of the icon that says ISO view. This is not exactly from the top and not exactly 2d so you have to select the Camera button and choose Parallel Projection. Now start modelling on one single flat plane. I gave this explanation as I found that the video tut I was trying to upload must be too big and kept failing at 2% of the upload. will try to upload it to youtube and try to share the link, dont know if thats possible but will see what I can do. :wink:


Not sure if this will help, but you can try one of these two methods that might work for you. First would be to draw a rectangle the size of you medium that you are cutting and push pull to the thickness, then group this cube. Then set the different components or groups with in the boundaries of this group.

A second thought would be similar, draw the medium and then draw the outlines on the top face of the cube and push out all the negatives, like you would if you were to cut them in real life. As you already have all these shapes drawn, you can go into each group or component and double click the face only and make a new component. In the component options set to glue to drop down to any and set the axis to match the plane of the face. Then paste on the face of the cube, they should set themselves to the proper orientation. As I have never done this, I believe it will work as I am thinking it will, if not I am sure the others in the group will be able to adjust this work flow, as I know there is a viable resolution in here.

Hope this helps.