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Don't SK(i)P Rhino

SketchUp to Rhino: How to Import SKP Files in Rhino

Picture of Benjamin Goldschmidt
by Benjamin Goldschmidt
Sep 12, 2019
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SketchUp and Rhino are both popular and their files sometimes need to be transferred back and forth. Explore the conversion from SketchUp to Rhino files in this brief guide.

SketchUp to Rhino

Modeling Software

Rhino software allows you to create extremely detailed models such as this model of a wedding ring.
Rhino software allows you to create extremely detailed models such as this model of a wedding ring. (Source: cadsoftwaredirect.com)

3D modeling software, such as Rhino and SketchUp, allow users to create and alter 3D models for design and 3D printing. But their file types tend to be different. SketchUp natively uses .skp files and Rhino uses .3DM files.

Rhino files are used to describe models based on NURBS geometry. NURBS, or non-uniform rational basis spline, is a method of representing curved surfaces in models, which makes it perfect for the design and 3D printing of real objects.

On the other hand, SketchUp files, or .skp files, use wireframes to represent an object along with the ability to save components for use in multiple models. Given the difference in how these two programs represent models, a conversion is necessary to use SketchUp files in Rhino.

But why would I need to convert files from SketchUp to Rhino in the first place? SketchUp has a huge community of free 3D objects on 3Dwarehouse but you may be more comfortable editing a model in Rhino. Alternatively, SketchUp is particularly adept at bringing a model to life using images that overlay a model such as topographical images like one would see in Google Earth. Importing these into Rhino is much easier than trying to create them in Rhino natively.

So now that we know why we want to convert, what are the next steps?

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SketchUp to Rhino

What We Need

Once you have the dialog box open, you can adjust the units to design an object in light years if you really wanted to.
Once you have the dialog box open, you can adjust the units to design an object in light years if you really wanted to. (Source: Benjamin Goldschmidt / All3DP)

Opening SketchUp files in Rhino can be a straightforward process. The main thing we need to check is that units are similar from SketchUp to Rhino.

  1. In Rhino 6, go to “View”, then “Grid Options”. This will open a dialog box where you can select the units.
  2. Ensure that the units selected here match the units in SketchUp (i.e. millimeters or inches should be selected in both programs). One thing to note is that Rhino only supports SketchUp files up to version 8.
  3. Go to “File” and “Insert” to open a dialog box. Under “Insertion Point”, deselect “Prompt”.
  4. Click the folder icon and select the .skp file you want to open in Rhino. This will bring up another dialog box and under “Block Definition Type”, in which you should select “Linked” and press “Apply”.
  5. Next, press “Apply” again to bring up a third dialog box entitled “SKP Import Options”. Under these options, ensure that “Weld” is set to zero degrees so that Rhino does not change anything about your original geometry. In addition, we’ll import the faces by selecting the “Meshes” button rather than “Trimmed Planes”.
  6. Press “Import” and your model should now be displayed in Rhino.

What happens if I use trimmed planes?

The model imports similarly, but due to the mathematical conversion, trimmed planes conversion takes longer for complex models. However, the advantage is that trimmed planes are easier to edit in Rhino since this is the format that is used natively by Rhino rather than a mesh.

Why can’t I just import directly from file?

Technically, you can choose “Import directly from file”, however, this method doesn’t give you as many options during import (it only shows you the last dialog box), which can be problematic for complex models that require special options.

What can go wrong?

When importing .skp files into Rhino, one thing that many people forget is that any geometry (including hidden geometries like construction and cutting planes) will show up in the imported Rhino file. Since we selected “Linked” during our import, we can simply delete those objects from the SketchUp file, resave, and update our model in Rhino. Alternatively, the unwanted objects could be deleted directly in Rhino as well.

Overall, opening a .skp file in Rhino isn’t so difficult. As long as you keep in mind units and any construction planes you use, you should have no problems using both programs to design models and obtain the benefits of both.

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SketchUp to Rhino

Alternative Methods

The command line is located in the upper left corner of the Rhino front panel.
The command line is located in the upper left corner of the Rhino front panel. (Source: Benjamin Goldschmidt / All3DP)

A simple method exists for converting a SketchUp file into Rhino file by exporting the former as a DWG and then importing it into Rhino. This method can be done using the following simple steps:

  1. Export the model as a DWG file from SketchUp.
  2. Import the DWG file into Rhino.
    • Under the “Open AutoCAD File dialog box, do not change any values unless you are using units other than millimeters. If so, change the units to match what you used in the original SketchUp file.
  3. Use the meshtonurb and mergeallfaces commands in the command line on the models to ensure they transfer well. This conversion process may be easier to accomplish by using these commands on one model at a time.

It should be noted that there are many methods of converting a SketchUp file into other types in order to import them into Rhino, as Rhino can import .dwg, .dxf, and .stl.

The more direct import method is recommended if the time-saving method leads to less reliable results through the multiple filetype conversions. Nevertheless, with these methods, you should be able to bring SketchUp files into Rhino with relative ease.

Feature image source: blackspectacles.com

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License: The text of "SketchUp to Rhino: How to Import SKP Files in Rhino" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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