Structural Engineering Tool?

I looked in the Extension Warehouse for this, and I realize it may not even be possible to create, but…
Is it possible to get/create an extension that will analyze a model to see if it is structurally engineered satisfactorily? That is, is it safe, reliable under X conditions - Earthquakes, normal load, for a given projected weight of the structure, etc.?
This is not quite as crazy as it sounds since:
SU “knows” the dimensions and empty space
SU knows when something is made out metal, concrete, etc. at least so far as the coloring info reflects the inherent properties of the thing, e.g. a column, being colored, so maybe tensile and load bearing capacity can be inferred? A big leap, I know…
Perhaps the extension could be told which components are structural and even given a preset capacity, then SU could multiply that and see if there are, say, enough columns and if they are positioned correctly to support the model. I am trying to see if my large building is supportable with the columns I have placed within it, and there is no extension or built-in feature to do that, I think.


A big leap indeed and I don’t think Trimble is gonna built it as feature inside Sketchup, since they also have Tekla-software for this purpose. Sketchup (3D for everyone!) is great for concept-design and has all the built-in tools to do that job. Beyond this there is great potential with the diversity of (new build) extensions to implement features as you mention, but I think it is up to manufacturers and building companies to develop specific Extensions/Dynamic Components.
When designing a building, it is common sense to assign appropriate dimensions to columns, span etc. but they would still have to be ‘engineered’ on account for building permits and "can this be made?’
If Trimble would implement such a feature it would also has to be worldwide/all possible materials/and combinations/etc. etc.
As a result the outcome of all the designs would be a uniform (boring) model and I am convinced that one of the powers of SketchUp is that you can design ‘out of the box’ models. Let the engineers do the math!

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There have been interest in the past

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I downloaded and installed it, but there are no instructions, the website gives a 4040 error, and it is still in Alpha mode version 1.0, with limited functionality, even if it works…which it doesn’t seem to. I guess I’m stuck. :frowning:

One of the major efforts many times in the analysis is the allowables. It is not enough to just have the loads and if you get into dynamic loads the natural frequeny and q’s become another issue. I have work some programs where many man hours are spent to make model and then you also have to do something to validate you results. If you are using " standard" types of materials it is one thing but try graphite epoxy.

Analyze This! Creating Geometry for Structural Analysis in SketchUp
Tutorial by Alex Schreyer

• Application: IES VisualAnalysis

Thanks. I think this will be helpful. I watched the video, plus 3 others on VA.
What it doesn’t show you, however, and what may even be impossible in the virtual world of the computer, is how to calculate what the actual load factors will be. I suppose it’s pretty certain my building will never face more than, say, a 200mph wind (and we would all have much bigger problems if we did!), but how many tons will be on a particular frame member from the size and composition of the structure? No way to tell that form the exported DSX file that I can see, though it is nice that one can choose from a wide variety of beams and other supports with known characteristics. So, we have the supporting capacities of the model well defined, but not the input side.
Am I missing something?

You usually do not use the same values as you go through to the final design because many times you do not know what loads are until the end. We would start out at say a muff factor of say 2x at PDR design level and then down to 1.25 etc for final build and proof load test if required.

Yes, but on a 1000’ building, what would the loads actually be??

Hey there,
I know this is kind of a late reply…However, I wanted to let you know that there is an extension that allows the export of IFC Structural Analysis View (only steel constructions up to now). So you are ready to analyze your building with any FEM/ structural analysis software on the market that supports IFC. Might solve your problems in future!

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SketchUp understands even the Physics. should be very close to workout complex analysis.

I took a look at the video, but I don’t think it’ll be right for me. Neither does the host, based on his reply to me:
" TheSketchUpEssential­s

I don’t think SketchUp is going to be the right fit for that kind of thing - it doesn’t do complex structural calculations…"

Absolutely! This is a simple physics engine. It is awesome… but is not a structural design tool.

Still, tons of fun to play with!

Architect Nick Sonders works with a structural engineering firm that uses SketchUp when analyzing his home designs. They may be a place to start in steering you in the right direction. I don’t know if they’ve created any plugins for their work.

Structural Engineering is a specialized subset of general physics. It’s mostly centered on statics, where all the forces add up to zero and nothing moves (much). The fun part of MS Physics seems to be modeling the movement of dynamic systems. I don’t know whether MS Physics will give you calculations for forces and reaction between the objects.

I used to use a program called Frame Mac that could model trusses and rigid frames, but it’s so old it doesn’t run in OSX. To run it now, I have to haul out an old machine capable of running MacOS 9.