SketchUp Extension Review : Solid Inspector 2
One of the best things about Trimble SketchUp is that it can extend its abilities by adding plugins or extensions to it. Today, we will talk about Solid Inspector 2, one such extension that helps in preparing your 3D model for 3D printing and other volumetric operations.
What is Solid Inspector 2
Solid Inspector 2 for SketchUp 2014 or later is a plugin or extension that you can use with a registered SketchUp Pro software. It finds and highlights the issues that are preventing your model from being a complete solid.
There are three main kinds of discrepancies that Solid Inspector 2 can detect in a given object: Model not solid, Useless face in model, Inverted face, Hidden lines.
The SI2 will highlight errors in a model and jump from one error to the next, repairing as you go. This gives the extension tremendous usability in confirming and repairing a model's solid shell. For anyone making solid models or 3D printing, this is an indispensable plugin.
The Solid Inspector 2 (SI2) extension can be found in the Extension Warehouse. The plugin is so popular, that chances are you will see it in the very first screen in the featured or most popular sections; if not, here is the link for the plugin page. The extension is also available in the GitHub repository, you can find it here.
Being an open-source development, you can download and use it for free. The RBZ is fairly small and installs fast. You would have to have Trimble SketchUp 2014 or newer in order to use the plugin. If you are using an older version of SketchUp, you can consider downloading the first version of the tool instead.
Presently the extension comes updated to version 2.4.7, which was released way back in December 2014. It is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS versions of SketchUp, and you can have it in English only.
How to use SI2
Using the SI2 extension is fairly easy. Just select a group or an object and use any of the above three methods to invoke the plugin. You also have a keyboard shortcut "I" by which you can start using it. A small window will pop up with the list of errors in your model.
In order to check if the model is watertight or not and to ensure that the model can be properly interpreted with a slicer software and 3D printers, SI2 tries to find if your model has any holes in it, if there are any inverted faces, if there are hidden lines in the model, and if there are any useless faces.
In the popup window, you can see the errors concerning the solidity of the object currently selected. You can select each error and fix them, or you can alternatively click "Fix All" at the bottom right corner to correct all the solid shell discrepancies entirely. However, it is not recommended in case of complicated large models since in that case, you should carefully evaluate the impact of each correction on the model.
Note that to use the Solid Inspector 2 plugin properly, you will need to group the faces and vertices into one object first; otherwise, you may get erroneous results.
When invoked, other than the dialog box, the extension will mark your hitherto-unsolid model with red and yellow markers. Red lines mean critical errors that are making the model not watertight, and yellow markers are denoting the "dirtiness" of it. Internal edges and faces will be marked with yellow and holes and inverted faces will go red-marked. With errors appearing on your model, you should use the extension in the x-ray view mode to be able to look inside the model. You can also use the hidden geometry option to view the discrepancies and get an idea of the overall cleanliness of your model.
After all the errors and garbage has been cleaned out of your model, you will get a cheerful smiley message in the SI2 window saying all is cool. You can also select the object and see that it?s saying it is a Solid Group. Don't panic, and remember where your towel is!
About the creator: REsiding in Trondheim, Norway, Mr. Thomas Thomassen is the developer of Solid Inspector 2. More commonly known as Thom Thom to his online patronage, he has been with the Trimble team since 2013. Thom Thom enjoys web designing, 3D modeling and traditional designing and building of objects.<