Mechanical design for everyone: SpaceClaim 3D Direct Modeling

March 20, 2012 Gopal Shah

SpaceClaim is a solid modeling application with a goal similar to SketchUp: make a 3D mechanical design tool so easy that anyone can use it. We helped the SpaceClaim team read and write SKP files years ago, but their latest release is a big step forward for engineers who are looking to use SketchUp in their workflow.

With SpaceClaim, engineers can convert conceptual designs in SketchUp’s native SKP format (which is optimized for fast performance) into precise solid models needed for mechanical design and manufacturing. As an example, SketchUp models usually convert to CAD programs as meshes, so holes end up being made of lots of little faces. SpaceClaim uses its feature recognition technology to convert these features into exact cylindrical surfaces.

Take the model below: SpaceClaim’s SketchUp import tools automatically convert facets to precise geometry when possible. On the left is the original SketchUp geometry. The middle model demonstrates the new import capability, with no manual cleanup. And the model on the right is further improved using SpaceClaim’s manual repair capabilities.

Moving from concept to production model with SpaceClaim for SketchUp.

With this functionality, mechanical designers can directly re-use SKP files, rather than remodeling from scratch. This type of precision is important for rapid prototyping, laser cutting, CNC machining, detailed dimensioning, simulation, and photo-realistic rendering. And SpaceClaim’s process produces models that are completely compatible with other mechanical CAD systems. Another bonus: these import tools enable mechanical engineers to use the entire 3D Warehouse as a starting point for their designs.

If you'd like to try SpaceClaim, please visit their website.

About the Author

Gopal Shah is a true visionary. He's able to see the world in 3 dimensions (without special glasses). His other superpower is being able to tie his shoes and whistle at the same time. He's pretty good at SketchUp too. He's even better at admiring people who are good at SketchUp.

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