How to export a model from SolidWorks to Google SketchUp

While Google SketchUp is not a professional CAD tool it has the advantage of being free and, because of that, it is used by a large number of people. Recently, some of my customers were asked by their own customers to supply SolidWorks models for review in SketchUp format.

There is one problem with this request – none of file formats that SolidWorks can export to are on the SketchUp import list. There are commercial converters from SolidWorks to SketchUp but they come at a cost.

SolidWorks to Google SketchUp Process

Fortunately, we found a way to exchange data between SolidWorks and SketchUp – just follow this workflow:

1. Save your SolidWorks model as ACIS (.SAT extension).

Save as ACIS

Note: Make sure that the Options are set as per this image:

Save As Options

Save As Options

2. Open DraftSight. If you have not installed this free 2D Editor, please use this link for doing so: Download DraftSight

3. In DraftSight’s command line type: “IMPORTSAT” and press <ENTER>. Locate the ACIS file you saved at step #1 and import it in DraftSight.

Import the ACIS file into DraftSight

Import the ACIS file into DraftSight

4. Save this file again in DWG format.

5. Open SketchUp

6. Import the DWG file you saved at STEP #4.

Import DWG into SketchUp

7. That’s all. You have successfully imported your SolidWorks model into SketchUp.

Congratulations! You did it!

Become a SolidWorks Expert

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Comments

  1. Philip says

    Thank you very much for this tip! I wanted to design a sheet metal enclosure in Solidworks and then verify that all the components (already made in Sketchup) fit inside nicely. This is exactly what I wanted, thanks a lot!

    Cheers,
    Philip

  2. says

    Glad you liked it. Since I posted it I noticed that in the new version 8, this workflow works only for the Sketch-up Pro. Looks like Google removed the DXF/DWG import option from the free version of the Sketch-up. :(

  3. george says

    thank you very much!
    a great tutorial for worldwide user groups.
    an excellent and practical advice indeed.
    keep working!
    best of luck

  4. Lucienz says

    You can actually do this without downloading DraftSight or any 3rd party plug-ins.

    In Solidworks Save assembly or part as SAT file.

    Open DWGeditor which is a separate program that comes bundled with Solidworks for processing Autocad docs.

    In DWG editor select File>ACIS in…
    Select your SAT file.
    File>save as>DXF

    In Sketchup pro
    File>import>select your saved DXF

    Everything should come in grouped by part and solid body. If you have curved surface and want to get rid of all the additional complex surface line work just select the sub component/group, right click>smooth/soften edges and set it to something under 89.

    done and done…

  5. Todd Wells says

    Well, this doesn’t work… got me to download the software though… Really wish I could try with the DWG Editor, unfortunately I am on an educational version of SW.

    If I can just say, I understand the need to drive traffic so that programs can be tested, marketed, etc., but I just spent 4+ hours trying to make this happen for a project and have nothing to show. Not super cool… I am jus sayin’. I hope I am wrong here…

    Todd William Wells

  6. says

    Hi Todd,

    I can tell you that the workflow presented in the article worked for me on March 15th when I posted it. I found this solution in order to help another user and I thought I will share it with everybody else.

    Can you tell me what steps of the procedure did not work for you? If you are right, I will update the article right away.

    Thanks,

    Alin

  7. says

    Hi – i am having trouble importing the .sat file into “draftsight”. After i have typed “importsat” the “model” tab is empty but the remaining 2 tabs are ocupied by unwanted elevation “sketches” of the model. Any help would be great, cheers.

  8. Franek says

    Hi and thanks a lot. It did work for me (sketchup 8 pro)
    You just made my evening after 2 hours of wondering around.

    Merci
    Franek

  9. says

    After some tests… this technique has worked with simple drawings, but I read an article that suggests files larger then 15mb may cause a crash upon importation to Sketchup (I can confirm this happening to me with files of 25mb)… here is the posting… http://support.google.com/sketchup/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=38578

    I am not a CAD user, I don’t make the drawings, someone else does…

    My Question: Can I use DraftSight to “reduce” the detail of a drawing and thus reduce its output size? I am using this for animation purposes so hidden geometry is not required for 99% of my projects… I just need to show the drawings from the outside…

  10. mark says

    Great tip! I have used this technique many times and it works great. Once you turn the “smoothing” up a bit in sketchup the models look like they were natively built in sketchup.

  11. Blake says

    Worked for me with Solidworks 2010 and Sketchup Pro Version 7. When saving the .DWG file in DraftSight, I had to use the 2007-2009 DWG version, instead of the newest. Sketchup would not import otherwise. The tip about smoothing surfaces is really handy.

  12. Blake says

    I’ll also say that once it is Sketchup my models tend to be the wrong size. Use the tape measure tool to measure a known measurement on the model. Then without clicking anything else, type the correct measurement and hit enter. It will ask if you want to resize your model. Click yes, done.

  13. Benji says

    Hi, seem likeagood tutorial…..but does anyone else’s SketchUp not have a .dwg option when u goto import?? I think i am using the latest of second latest version.

  14. Julien de Charentenay says

    I ran into this post as I am trying to get an assembly from SolidWorks in SketchUp (but do not have SolidWorks).

    As an alternative to using SAT files with DraftSight in between, you can also export from SolidWorks to STL and import the STL file in SketchUp (you need to install stl4su.rb – stl4su.sourceforge.net – in SketchUp). It works in both free and pro versions.

    The downside is that the model will be converted into triangles, and expect a bit of playing around. Use ASCII STL file if you can.

  15. Jozeff says

    Hi Alin, this is perfect, thank you very much for sharing this. I used to use this technique very ofter until I switched to Mac. SketchUp Pro on Mac seems to have a problem importing the DWG, even though it finishes importing 100%, the final SK file is empty. Importing same DWG to SK Pro in Win works just fine.
    Has anybody else had this experience ?

  16. Thomas says

    Having the same problem as Jozeff. SK file is empty when importing on Mac – Works fine on PC. Any ideas why?

  17. MAC says

    Is there a way to make it on the mac (the help says type “importsat”)…

    In which field?

    I am under the impression that this as well as the online help as usual only describes the win version.

  18. Chris says

    Why can i not load into sketchup???? It loads all the way up to 99% then never fully loads. I’ve done everything, step-by-step. Using SketchUp Pro.

  19. Sven says

    Hello,
    I just read your article about exporting a model from solidworks to sketchup.
    In my case I have to export an SketchUp file into an .sat file that has to opend with solid works.
    Will the routine work just the other way round?

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