Sketchup is the one tool that I use consistently for designing parts to cut out with my CNC. One of it’s limitations, however, is that there is no useful exporter built into the free version, which means that there is no simple way to get the parts out of Sketchup and into a CAM program. Or at least there wasn’t until now.
To work around this problem, I wrote a simple plugin for Sketchup which will add a menu option for exporting a CamBam file. It’s a pretty straight forward process, and you can probably figure out how to use it without even reading this page, but I will go ahead and give some instructions anyway.
Update: (8/21/09) If you’re having trouble renaming the exported file, simply add .cb to the end of it. For example, “CamBamExport” would instead be “CamBamExport.cb”. A big thanks to Travis on the forums who gave me a heads up about this problem. I had never noticed before because I have my file extensions turned on in Windows, so the fact that you have to add .cb to the end of the file was obvious to me.
Installing the Plugin
The first thing that you want to do is download and install one of these two plug-ins. They are both essentially the same except for the units. One exports in inches while the other exports in millimeters. If you want, you can install both of them and use them side by side.
To install, place the plugin(s) in the following directory
For a PC it’s C:\Program Files\Google\Google SketchUp 7\Plugins
For a Mac it’s /Library/Application Support/Google SketchUp 7/SketchUp/Plugins (I don’t know if it will do you any good to install it on a Mac because CamBam is for PCs, but, then again, what do I know.)
Using the Plugin
In the above picture, you can see a random assortment of geometric shapes that has been selected in Sketchup and is ready to be exported.
To export, click “Plugins” on the menu bar and then click either “CamBamExport-inch” or “CamBamExport-mm” depending on which of the two plugins above you installed.
After that, a window will pop up which will give a choice to change either the name or the location of the file. Once save is clicked, you will then have a CamBam file ready for use. Below, you can see the same geometry opened in CamBam.
Update: (8/21/09) If you’re having trouble renaming the exported file, simply add .cb to the end of it. For example, “CamBamExport” would instead be “CamBamExport.cb”. A big thanks to Travis on the forums who gave me a heads up about this problem. I had never noticed before because I have my file extensions turned on in Windows, so the fact that you have to add .cb to the end of the file was obvious for me.
1. Make sure that all the edges you want to export are selected. Only the edges are exported, not the faces. In fact, the faces are automatically deselected when the file is exported, so you don’t even need to create a face if the part you are designing doesn’t need it.
2. It doesn’t matter what units the Sketchup model has been drawn in. If you are using the “CamBamExport-inch.rb” plugin, then inches will be exported regardless of the Sketchup model’s units. Same goes for the “CamBamExport-mm.rb” plugin except that the exported file will be in millimeters.
This is especially helpful if you are using a model downloaded from the 3D warehouse which could be drawn in any one of the many different types of units used.
3. Make sure that the faces being exported are on z = 0. In the picture below, you can see a circle that has been drawn above the ground.
It should be moved onto the ground before being exported to CamBam. If not, it will load into CamBam in the same position as it is in Sketchup. This will most likely cause a multitude of problems when you try and generate the toolpaths. Note: Make sure to double check that the part is actually on zero and doesn’t just look like it is.
4. Make sure that only faces and edges are selected. For example if you select a group and try to export a file, that file won’t work. The same goes for guides and probably some other things also that I can’t think of.
If you do need to export a part that is grouped, explode it first. (right click > explode)
5. This isn’t really a tip, but it does look interesting. In the picture below, you can see an assortment of objects in Sketchup.
Here are the same objects in CamBam. As you can see, it is able to load the 3D edges right along with the 2D edges. I don’t know if there is anything you can really do with this, but there might be something useful that can be done with the 3D aspect of this plugin. Note: There are no faces exported, which means that this won’t be of any use for creating 3D parts in the plus version of CamBam, so don’t get too excited : )