SketchUp FAQ 01: Can SketchUp open a dwg file?

Loft Conversions

CI have looked at some of the things I get asked the most about SketchUp and put together a list of frequently asked questions to help out those of you that might be new to sketchup or have a few questions they want answered. First in that series is the question:

Can SketchUp open a dwg or CAD file?

Yes! SketchUp can open, or more accurately import a dwg or dxf file – but the caveat to this is that you have to own SketchUp Pro. Without SketchUp Pro it is not possible to import a dwg or dxf file.

Prepare the CAD file for import

It is important to know that it is worth taking some time to prepare your CAD file for importing into SketchUp in order to achieve the best result. Most CAD elements are supported in SketchUp, however there are a few that aren’t supported, and will be ignored when the CAD file is imported. Those unsupported CAD elements are:

  • ADT or ARX objects
  • Dimensions
  • Hatching
  • Text
  • XREFs

First thing to do is create a copy of your CAD file, so that you don’t lose any detail or data from the original file as you prepare it for SketchUp.

If your file contains any unsupported elements, it is worth delete those elements to reduce file size. Objects can be exploded and made into block entities which will then import into SketchUp as components.

Purge any unnecessary layers. A CAD file import to SketchUp continues to hold all of the layers, even if those layers are empty of any content. So, it is worth only importing the layers that are in use.

Remove any unwanted information in the CAD file.

Make sure you are only importing the lines that are necessary, and remove anything else. This will help reduce the file size and improve performance of the SketchUp model once the CAD file has been imported. Make sure the units in the CAD file match the units in the SketchUp file. Is your CAD drawing in inches, millimetres, centimetres? Is your SketchUp file in feet? If you import a drawing with a mis-matched unit of measurement havoc will ensue!

Finally, after cleaning up the drawing and removing anything unnecessary, the CAD file it needs to be saved in a format that is compatible with SketchUp. For SketchUp Pro 2018 users, they recommend saving in format of Release 13 and Release 14 – to maximise compatibility. I have saved in AutoCAD versions 2008, and 2010 and generally never have any problems.

How to import the CAD file into SketchUp

The hard work has been done, now all you have to do is import the file.

Select File > Import Find the clean and freshly prepared file in your hard drive that you want to import

From the Format drop down menu, select AutoCAD files (*.dw, *.dxf).

Select your file.

Click the Options button, for further options relating to the import.

Here you can: select whether you want to preserve the drawing origin, merge coplanar faces and orient faces consistently.

Adjust these setting as you wish, then click OK.

Finally, click Import. Voila! SketchUp has imported your dwg file ready for use!

— Watch the short video here:

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