SketchUp really excels at handling discrete repeating objects. The proper term for these are ‘Components’ and they are a key aspect of SketchUp that we will be tapping into with DECAsteel.

Components in SketchUp have some very useful properties:

  • Each component must have a unique name (sounds a lot like a part number, or mark number doesn’t it?)
  • Each copy or instance of a component shares a common ‘Definition’. So if you change the underlying entities within the definition, all copies of the component will update automatically.
  • Components can exist within a hierarchy of objects and can also contain child or sub-components themselves.
  • Components can inherit the properties (eg. material) of their parent

Considering the above properties, it only makes sense that DECAsteel uses components to manage ‘parts’. We’ll be utilizing Components to generate elements such as:

  • Baseplates
  • Bolts, nuts, washers
  • Connection Plates and Angles
  • Stiffeners

Each of these parts will likely have their own special editing dialog for creating the part and adjusting the parameters of the part. Below is the current state of our Baseplate Editor.

Baseplate dialog
Early dialog for creating a simple baseplate

The dialog currently offers several important features such as selecting, naming, editing, and saving to your local library for future use. As you work with DECAsteel, you will grow your parts library so that you can re-use the various common parts in future projects. Some parts and components will also likely be included with the software.

The baseplate component becomes a sub-part of a column since it will typically be handled and tracked as one main object.

Weldments such as baseplates will be child objects (sub-parts) of the main part

When creating or editing a column, you’ll be able to choose the baseplate from your in-model library of baseplates as shown below in our early Column dialog.

Column Dialog
Early column editor dialog

When drawings get extracted to Layout, we will be able utilize Component attributes to create smart auto-text labels and create QTOs and parts lists.

What are your thoughts on components and parts management in DECAsteel? Start a discussion in the DECAsteel Community.

Baseplates, Components, and Parts Management