import step files for your models

Many mechanical parts like connectors, switches and large parts are offered as STEP models by their manufacturers. Unfortunately there is no direct way to import them into Sketchup, so we usually have to redraw them from scratch based on the datasheet and some imagination.

Lorenz wrote me a short description of his method to import STEP files. I will illustrate it with a Micro-Match connector, manufactured by Tyco. The reference of the part is 1-215460-0. Follow the link and download the STEP model (you do not need to sign in, just close the popup).

Locate the zip file on your computer and extract it. There should be a .stp file inside.

Download and install FreeCAD. This tool is multi platform. Launch it.

Import the model with File / Import .

Press ‘0’ (zero) for isometric view. Pretty realistic. It would be a lot of work to draw so many details !

Create a mesh for this model : Meshes / Create mesh from shape. Click OK in the left hand side tab.

Then click on “c_0215460_10_u_3d (Meshed)” and Meshes / Export mesh… Save as binary STL.

You can open the STL file with eDrawings to check the intermediate file.

Still looking nice ?

Now download and install Blender. This tool is multi platform. Launch it and import the STL file : File / Import / Stl…

Export as Collada (DAE).

Then Import the dae file in Sketchup. You can explode the model and edit it : add colors, re-orientate it.

A good check is to measure the component and check that the dimensions are correct (remember the scale : millimetres are now meters).

Summary : STP => STL => DAE => SKP

Feel free to share your own methods in the comments.


export your model as DXF or STL

Sketchup is a nice CAD tool but the SKP format is not the most useful. You cannot open it with many other software or share it with mechanical designers. Today we will see how to export it nicely.

Following this link you can find a plugin for Sketchup that can write DXF and STL files. Copy the RB file in your Sketchup plugins directory. This plugin works for Windows and OS X.

Then open your existing design, or run eagleUp from scratch. You can find the export plugin in the tools menu :


Choose to export the whole model, then select an export in millimeters.

Finally you can choose your export format.

  • the polyface mesh can help measurements on 2D drawings
  • the STL gives a more useful 3D model


STL is widely used for milling, printing, and other quick prototyping.

There are several free viewers available. I can recommend eDrawings. Feel free to share your experience in exports and 3D file formats in the comments.

Tomorrow in another post we will see how to import parts in Sketchup.