Structural Reinforcement Bars (Rebar) Inside SketchUp + LayOut


I am a structural engineer in East Africa. I seek to understand how to add reinforcement bars (rebar) within the SketchUp context, at the level of good structural construction details, and for mid-rise framed building developments with lots of reinforced concrete components.

I have tried including it using native SketchUp tools, but this is incredibly laborious, and almost impossible, when things are required quickly. It seems 2D tools available even do this much faster. But I want to exclusively try to document structural engineering construction drawings inside SketchUp + LayOut. I do not intend to model as linework inside LayOut, it does not seem right at all. I much prefer to all the 3D modelling inside SketchUp and only manage lines and annotations and the usual set up in LayOut.

Any help or thoughts, perhaps based on lived experience?

All the best.

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There are plug-ins like Maj column and Maj beam that can generate elements with reinforced concrete, but for structural engineering purposes I don’t know if it’s useful all the time and there are limitations with those plug-ins, cause not all the columns are the same for every construction, the only way I can imagine of doing on sketchup is modeling every column, beam or any structural element and convert it to components, you can save them as a collection and increase the variety of elements every time you design a new one, eventually you’ll have enough elements so you can use them on different projects without having to do it again.

Though it’s a slightly different application from your needs, @medeek’s Foundation extension handles modelling rebar reinforcement well:

He’s a structural engineer himself, so he should have an accurate take on how far away from your needs his current extension is. It’s not currently designed for multi floor structures, but maybe there’s a way to use it for your purposes that at least reduces the manual work required to represent rebar in your models.

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Might be a bit of a stretch, but I would advise downloading the Trial version and giving it a go first before ever purchasing the plugin.

Also be sure to watch a few of the tutorial videos and you will quickly get a feel for the capabilities of the plugin and whether it will suit your needs:

Thank you @francisquitof @db11 and @medeek for the responses. I have tested MAJ Column and MAJ Beam. It has a place but will not work for the variety of elements to play with. @medeek’s extensions have a good place too, but will not suffice for all places based on the variety of options.

All this keeping in mind that Post-Tensioning detailing will also need to be included in the entire detailing work flow.

How I wish structural detailing was a little easier within the SketchUp environment.

To date, I have not been able to find any structural engineer or structural engineering practice that exclusively documents within SketchUp.

I hope I could find one some day, who might be open for a longer conversation so that I understand their workflow and how to do the same.

Thank you.

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Most of my engineering friends work exclusively in 2D so their weapon of choice is usually the 2D king… AutoCad. I myself still use AutoCad when it comes to 2D structural documents. The 3D is nice but is usually not necessary for most structural engineering projects or reports.

Personally I think the 3D BIM models lend themselves more to the designer, architect, estimator and for visualizations for the client. However, Clear Plan’s (Bob McCarter) work has shown that they are also very good at checking a design for clashes and other construction issues prior to actual construction.

Thank you @medeek for your thoughts. I understand it all, well. Yes, 2D still has incredible power and versatility for really quick and precise detailing, documentation.

My hope is to: A) find a good balance between 2D and SketchUp B) go fully inside SketchUp. But the second option to fully structurally document using SketchUp seems almost impossible based on the tools available.

I really like the 3D process and workflow for structural engineering purposes. This remains my biggest attraction to SketchUp. But again, I need to provide good and precise structural technical construction documents.

I am glad to know how you do it.

I am now really thinking that maybe the only other way around it all is to send everything SketchUp to the 2D world (AutoCAD LT, BricsCAD…are what I would use since their pricing is in sight) and keep all documentation in 2D. Another options is to invest in the likes of Tekla Structures, Autodesk Revit…but I need more money for these, which I do not have.

Again, thank you.

Have you tried TSD from Tekla? You can work and calculate rebars with it and import your rebars drawing in Layout.
I’m case you need 3D you can export to Trimble Connect and view both drawings Tekla and SketchUp.
SketchUp never import rears from Tekla, I don’t know why…

Tekla Structural Designer (including Tekla Structures + more) is extremely capable. Only the price tag. I guess I will eventually need to grow the business and invest in the better tools. Thank you, @rtches.

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Hi Lambert - I’m doing construction in East Africa too. I’m not a structural engineer, and I’m doing smaller single-story buildings, but I’m trying to do it all in SU/LO. As others have mentioned, it isn’t fast, but it is possible.


Hello @nmason I’m grateful that you have gotten in touch. Speed is not my interest. I really like the shot you’ve sent. I’m going to see if I could look for you since we’re in a similar region to sort of walk through your workflow.

I like the flexibility of SketchUp + LayOut. So far I’ve done very small documentation with it. For larger projects, it really takes a while. I hope to firm up knowledge and workflows and invest in some plugins.

Again, thank you.