The Great FBX Import Materials Conundrum

The conundrum is this: When importing an object into SketchUp using FBX/3DS/OBJ format, how does one tell that imported file to use a material already in the SketchUp library? No matter what method you try, at least one duplicate material is always created.

Let’s say you have a material called ‘wood’ in SketchUp. You’ve adjusted the mat in SketchUp just how you want it. Now you import an FBX into SketchUp using your plugin of choice (for me, it’s Skimp - excellent!!). That particular object already has a material already applied from the original source 3D program (like Max) named the exact same thing: ‘wood’. The first thing that happens is that a new material is created in SketchUp called ‘wood1’. If you tweak ‘wood1’ in any way, then import the same object, a brand new material will be created called ‘wood2’. Etc…etc…

There never seems to be a way to say ‘use existing material’ - like you can in other popular 3D programs.

Is there a way around this? Perhaps a plugin to organize or swap materials? What this means, of course, is that you can never truly have a proper materials library if you follow any kind of object import workflow. Other applications such as Lumion and Twinmotion suffer from the same issue - as does Unreal when using the Datasmith workflow.

I’ll reach out to Skimp as well and see if there’s anything on their end they can do…!


If there aren’t too many materials in the model, I think a reasonable workflow to solve this issue with Skimp would be:

  • Setup your materials in SketchUp
  • Enable ‘Apply UV Texture’ in your Skimp settings
  • Import the FBX file
  • Use the Skimp Replace Texture tool to swap your imported model’s materials with your previously created SU materials. (Alt-click to sample material in model and then apply to your imported model)

Hope this helps!

More info here:

Thanks for that tip. I’ve been using the Material Replacer Plugin which does this on a global level in the model (even textures that are nested in groups). It also works with materials that just use an RGB value and no bitmap.