SketchUp Plugin: Shape Bender

An extremly useful Plugin to Bend an object to follow the profile of a curve
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Not so long ago, I wrote a post about the Rhino command FlowAlonSrf (Flow Along Surface) that allows us to bend objects to match a curved surface. At that time I thought it was something I would not be able to do with SketchUp, but again the Ruby scripting community has surprised me positively.
There us a SketchUp Plugin written by Chris Fullmer that does something very similar. It is a bit less complete compared to Rhino's "Flow Along Surface", since in this case it bends objects using a curved line, but still it is a very good tool to have on your set of SketchUp tricks. See how using this tool I bended the following text to match a curved line.

I am going to post a video soon but on the mean time see the original post by Chris that already has a quick video on how to use it. You can use that post too to download the plugin.

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AutoCAD: Select Using an Irregular Shaped Polygon

It is sometimes easier to select objects if we use an irregular polygon instead of the standard rectangular selection. And it is very easy to do.
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When yo have a drawing with a lot of objects sometimes selection multiple objects becomes tedious because using the rectangular selection window might select a lot of objects that we do no want to select.
The solution is to select using an irregular shaped polygon. This option, generally unknown is very easy to access. When AutoCAD prompts us to select objects, we enter CP and click enter. This will trigger the "Cross Polygon" mode, which means that instead of a rectangular selection window, we will use an irregular polygonal one. See this quick video to see this option in action.

It is one of those options that it is unbelievable how many of us didn't know about it. Remember Socrates, "all I know is that I know nothing".

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AutoCAD: How to Make a Block Unique

How do you turn one instance of a block into a unique block in a single an easy step? There is an easy way.
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If you are a SketchUp and AutoCAD user like me, probably you miss the "make unique" option from SketchUp when you are using AutoCAD. For those who do not use SU, Make Unique will turn an instance of a Component (Blocks in SketchUp are called Components) into a Unique one, allowing us to modify it without affecting the other instances of that Component.
I always miss this is a feature in AutoCAD, but lately I came to realize that there is a way to do the same (only for 2D blocks though). The trick is to use the FLATTEN command. If we select "Sample Block 01" and run the FLATTEN command, the result will be a flattened version of the same block called "Sample Block 01-flat1". Because the new block has a different name we can modify it without affecting the other instances of that block. So the result achieved would be the same we get in SketchUp using "Make Unique".
This, of course, only works in 2D, since the command FLATTEN flattens linework, it would turn a 3D block into a 2D one.

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SketchUp Plugins: 1001bit Tools

A Plugin with a full set of tools for Architecture to build your buildings way faster and easier
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The commercial Plugin 1001bit Tools is an awesome set of Tools to streamline your modelling of buildings. It includes tools to do almost anything you would expect to need when modelling a building. We just purchased it at work and I couldn't wait to share it here. The tools sells for only 29 dollars, which I think is a pretty good deal for the amount of features that you get with it. See this video to check some of the features of this awesome plugin.

You can download a trial version for 30 days or purchase a license for 29 dollars.

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AutoCAD: Convert a 3D Model into a 2D drawing with hidden line

Easily convert 3D models into 2D Objects. Choose if you want to show the hidden lines and how.
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If you have a 3D model and need to extract 2D drawings from it, you should be aware of the existence of the FLATSHOT command. This command converts a 3D view of a 3D object into a 2D drawing.
Set the view you want to flatten and run the FLATSHOT command. The result will be a 2D block that will be placed on the XY plane. See this quick example. We have this 3D Object, on this view. ANd we want to get a 2D drawing showing the hidden lines in a grey dotted style.

We need to run the FLATSHOT command, and on the dialog box configure the hidden line settings to match how we want to show them. You can later on edit the block, but if you want the hidden lines to show differently be sure to give them a diferent style.

Once you have run the command, a flattened version of your view will appear on the XY plane (be sure the UCS is set to world, if you have any other UCS active, it will be used to place the flattened view)

If you set the view to top again, you will get the drawing to look as you expected.

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AutoCAD: Scale Objects in one dimension only.

There is a way to scale objects only on one axis.
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I used to work with Microstation long time ago and that program has the scale in one dimension as a standard option of the scale command. Unfortunately AutoCAD doesn´t. If you need to scale objects on one dimension there is a way in AutoCAD to do it though.
You need to select the objects you want to scale and create a block out of them. Be sure to create the block with the "scale uniformly" option unchecked. Then, this block can be scaled in one direction by modifying the X or Y scale. Once you have the geometry scaled as you wanted you can explode the block.
Of course it is not as precise as using the scale command, but so far it seems to be the only way to do this.

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The CAD Addict Blog Directory
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AutoCAD Weekly Block #06: Dynamic Graphic Scale

Download this Block and learn a bit about Visibility states in Dynamic Blocks
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This week's Block is a Graphic Scale created as a dynamic block that will be fit for the following scales: 1:50, 1:100, 1:200, 1:500 and 1:1000. The block is meant to be used on paper space. Download the block or see the image below.

The Block is created using a visibility state for each scale, so only the text that fits that scale will show. On the previous image you can see how if you click on the triangular grip of the bock, the different visibility states are shown.
The process of creation is simple. Once you have the linework and text for one of the scales, create the different visibility states for each of the scales. Copy the text and change it values to the one that fits the next scale and hide hat text on the scale you don't want it to be shown. Repeat the process for each scale you want to create. For more details on how to create and modify visibility states check this older post. To summarize what it is important check the buttons related to visibility states in the Block Editor and what they are for. They are situated on the upper right corner of the block editor interface. They are the following.

  1. Toggles objects on other visibility states on and off.
  2. Makes an object visible in the current visibility state
  3. Hides an object form the current visibility state
  4. Calls the visibility states dialog box (where we will create different visibility states)

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Rhino: What to Do if Make2D Runs out of Memory?

If you are trying to turn your Rhino model into a 2D drawing but your computer crashes, you might want to try this work around.
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I was recently trying to extract 2D linework from a very large 3D model in Rhino to be used in AutoCAD drawings, but no matter what I tried, either the result was not the expected or the computer crashed in the process.
What I tried first was the Make2D command, but the computer "ran out of memory" so Rhino crashed. (see that I was doing this on a 8core, 3Gb of RAM computer, so its not an old and slow machine).
Then second option I tried was to Export to AutoCAD and then try to use the FLATSHOT command, but for some reason, the geometry exported to AutoCAD was not suitable for this command. I tried to Export from Rhino to 3Ds to import it in AutoCAD, but again Rhino would crash.
So I found myself without options involving a direct transfer. The only solution I found was to Print the view on hidden line in Rhino to a PDF with big quality, and then convert that PDF to a DXF using a PDF to CAD converter. The one I used is this one, the free trial allowed me to do what I wanted, and the results are better than using the Make2D command from Rhino.

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SketchUp Plugins: Unfold your model

Do you need to build a paper model of your Sketchup Model? There are Plugins to Unfold the model.
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If you want to build a physical model of your SketchUp model, you can do it using the Unfold.rb Plugin. This free plugin can be downloaded here and what it does is exactly what its names says. It unfolds the faces of a model to a plane that you decide.
It is a bit tricky to use, and you have to plan ahead if your model is complicated to be sure that the faces are build in a way that can be unfold. But once you get the sense of how it works you will be able to "deconstruct" your model to transform it in a series of faces laying on the same plane. See the following video for a quick reference on how to do this.

There is also a commercial plug-in called Waybe that automates this process to a single click, but it sells at $50, which I find way overpriced.

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Rhino Plugins: Paneling Tools

This is an awesome Plugin to create panels on NURBS surfaces. Another Rhino Beauty.
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PanelingTools.rhp is an awesome plugin for Rhino to Panel surfaces. You can use the standard Paneling options provided with the Plugin, or generate custom Panels from any shape. The Plugin can be downloaded from the McNeel website. See this tutorial video on how to use Paneling Tools.

After you are done learning the basics, take a look at this other video on how to use the panelling tools with custom shapes.

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AutoCAD Weekly Block #05: Dynamic Door

Download this Block and learn about Flip Parameters.
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On this week's Block we will quickly see how to use the Flip Parameters/Actions. To do that we will use a block of a 80cm door, which in metric unit system would be the most common door you would need to use.
What we want to achieve adding the flip parameters is to be able to flip the door to open to one side or the other without the need to actually using the MIRROR command. So basically we need to add two flip parameters, one to flip the door to open right or left and another one to flip the door to open in or out. Download the block and you will see what it can do.

As you can see in the image above, when the block is selected it shows two arrows. This two arrows allow us to flip the block. But lets quickly see how this arrows work. If we enter the Block Editor, this is what we see.

What I have done is to create two Flip parameters (Flip State and Flip state 1 on the image) following the two perpendicular axis of the block. Then, I added a flip action to each of those parameters, and selected the door and the arch as objects. Nothing else, simple but effective. Of course if you are a user of AutoCAD Architecture this block is useless, but for those using plain AutoCAD this might be useful.

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