When do I not use components (or should I change my workflow)?

I used to never use components, just groups, but based on the forum and what I’ve read I should have been.

80% of what I’m making in SU is kitchen/bathroom cabinet design. Prior I’d make a group out of the back panel, sides, tops, toe kicks, and then nest those groups into one as the carcass. I would then make a door group and drawer group.

Now I do something similar but with nested components, even on 5pc doors/drawers … each stile and rail is a component, then I nest those components into one.

There is a lot of clicking on the “make unique” button.

Where I run into trouble is if I have to make a change to one of the nested components. When I click into a component and isolate one of the sub components sometimes I can’t click “make unique” for some reason and I’m looking at all the similar components on the model at once.

Am I using components wrong? 99% of the time I don’t need or want to batch edit geometry, where I know components come in handy.

Should I go back to nested groups for my purposes?


To make the component inside another component unique, you have to make the parent component unique first unless there’s only one of it in the model (and at the same time, make unique any copies which you also want to be different from the original in the same way).

I don’t think you are using components wrongly, but Make Unique doesn’t work the way you may think it does.

Components or groups should be used to separate geometry, and either will serve that function well.

Components have at least two advantages over groups, whether or not there is more than one instance in the model.

  1. Edit one component, and you change all instances of it at the same time.

  2. If you delete the last or only copy of identical groups, it is permanently lost from the model. If you delete the last copy of a component, the original component definition is still saved in the Component Browser, and stays there until you Purge the components (or Purge all unused elements in the model).

At worst, if the model crashes or becomes un-openable, it is often possible to recover the components in the corrupt file, even if nothing else remains visible or recoverable in the model itself. Groups aren’t stored in a recoverable form.

I do not like to nest anything. I will use components to make my assembly, then put them on a tag to control visibility. If working on an item in a crowded space, I use hide rest of model. a shortcut is assigned for the task, used alot.

I follow this kind of pattern often. Though I see @RLGL would probably not structure his models that way. Both are valid approaches, and have their pros and cons.

I tend to avoid most nesting as it just seems to get in the way of working efficiently but for typical frame and panel doors or drawer boxes, I would have each part as a component and create a nested component to make it behave as a single unit like the real thing. Case work could be nested also but I generally find it’s not useful in my modeling. If you are going to create nested components, they need to be done correctly or you just make problems for yourself.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but in my case, where I’m constantly resizing and moving drawers, doors, cabinets, etc … wouldn’t it be a nightmare to have to select each piece of the cabinet versus just one click of the nested component or group each time I want to move or resize something?

Even if I did the drag and select method, there’s always going to be so much around it that I see myself going mad trying to avoid selected what I don’t want.

Is there any benefit to having a component for stiles, one for rails, one for panel, putting those individual components in a nested group? Or even the opposite … where the stiles are a group, rails are a group, a panel group, then turn those 5 groups into a nested component called “door?”

Yes. Several that I can think of. One is that you can select the entire door with a single click to copy, move, or rotate it. In the case of a drawer, creating the nested component that includes the front, sides, back, and bottom makes it easy to select the entire drawer even though you might only be able to see the front.

Personally I don’t use groups at all in my work. Everything is a component. If you want to do it, you can make the individual parts groups and make a nested component to contain them or you could make the individual parts as components and create a nested group. It’s up to you but you should try out the different options and see which one works best for you.

Ok yes, that’s what I was trying to imply.

Where the final pieces were definitely in a nested container (group or component), but the individual pieces that made up that nested container were of the other container (smalls groups in one component vs small components in one group). But it sounds like I need to do some experimenting.

Whatever you do look for the most consistent and efficient workflow you can develop. Find a flow that makes the modeling go quickly and easily with accuracy and no errors.

When I am modeling I’m not only thinking about the next few steps but I’m also thinking about what I need out of the final product and how the model might need to change before it actually is the final product. I see too many models from others where it’s clear they were doing no forward thinking or planning and basically flew into a box canyon. Don’t do that.

Edit to add:

Here’s a model I did for construction plans. In the foreground I have the assembled model which is what I originally did for the project. There’s a copy in the background that is pulled apart for the exploded and detail views. The drawer in the assembled copy is a nested component with the parts being components, too. When I made the copy for the exploded views, I did explode that copy of the drawer component which left me with the components of the drawer parts. If I needed to do something like change the width of the nightstand including the drawer, I can edit the components in the assembled copy knowing that my changes will carry through to the components in the exploded view. If I’d made groups of the individual parts, I’d have to make sure I edit all similar groups (drawer fronts, backs, and bottoms). While that can be done, it makes more work and is more prone to errors than with the parts being components as I have them.

Since I only use components in my models there is never any question about what I’ve selected and I know exactly what will get edited and what won’t as I’m working through my model. Disclaimer: I’m only telling you what I do. It works flawlessly for me. I’m not telling you to do the same thing. Some people seem to get their knickers in a twist over that.

To avoid excessive nesting, I like to ponder the difference between “part of” and “located in”. For example, the rails, stiles and panel are naturally parts of a door. Except when making the door, you wouldn’t envision them as things you deal with separately. But a cabinet is located in a kitchen. It can be removed without breaking the physical structure of the kitchen.

I use nesting purely for part-of structural hierarchy and tags for other non-hierarchical relationships.


Ha, I understood … and the more I read the comments the more I’m thinking this is an area where the ends should justify the means (whatever they may be).

I would agree.