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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Interview: Version 2.0 of Trimble MEPdesigner for SketchUp Release

August 5th, 2015 by Susan Smith

When I think of where Trimble SketchUp has evolved to, from its days as a simple but celebrated sketching tool for designers, I’m amazed at its versatility and application to so many important aspects of the AEC marketplace.

Trimble MEPdesigner V2 Cable tray with condulets and bendable conduit

Trimble MEPdesigner V2 Cable tray with condulets and bendable conduit

Trimble announced version 2.0 of Trimble MEPdesigner for SketchUp, a cost-efficient and easy-to-use 3D CAD solution that allows MEP contractors and engineers to quickly and easily design and model electrical and plumbing systems.

The new version extends the software’s capabilities with an improved electrical construction materials catalog, expanded component patterns, and a new bendable electrical conduit feature.  The unique bendable conduit feature eliminates the need to use a collection of components to represent a bend in the conduit, saving time and producing a more accurate 3D model and bill of materials (BOM).

Brett Stacks, segment manager, Trimble – MEP Division spoke with AECCafe about the new release.

TrimbleMEPdesigner v2 - Electrical Room 04 (3)

TrimbleMEPdesigner v2 – Electrical Room 04 (3)

AECCafe Voice: How easy is it to use is the new MEPdesigner?

Brett Stacks: Simply put, it’s built in line with SketchUp. One of the challenges of software development is feature discoverability. Can the user find and use the feature without any training? The platform is arguably one of the easiest modeling applications available today because drawing in the software feels natural. While the software is widely used by novice modelers everywhere, it is also a key application for design firms and project managers for very large, complex projects. You’ll find that companies such as Turner Construction, Mortenson Construction, DPR Construction and JE Dunn use the software regularly on their projects.

Trimble MEPdesigner for SketchUp has been developed with the same core values as the SketchUp platform. There are a lot of contractors, designers and project managers who need an affordable and easy to use application that does not require a heavy investment in product and database management. The MEPdesigner product provides the SketchUp modeler tools which address the needs and workflows specific to the MEP market. Coupled with the ease of use of SketchUp, this product is expected to allow anyone to build and deliver 3D models.

AECCafe Voice: Are there other time-saving features such as the bendable conduit that users can look forward to?

Brett Stacks: Trimble has acquired many technologies and resources with proficiency in project workflows. SketchUp and MEPdesigner users should be aware that Trimble continues to invest in providing new solutions. For example, many of Trimble’s design-build-operate software products have been integrated with the Trimble Connect collaboration platform,  which enables file sharing as well as web-based model viewing. Trimble Field Points allows for modelers to quickly identify and mark locations such as hangers, sleeves and equipment layout then export those locations to Trimble’s Robotic Total Stations. Each of these can be found in SketchUp Extension Warehouse.

AECCafe Voice: How will this new version alter the workflow?

Brett Stacks: We’re very excited about the bendable conduit feature as it is rare to find in other modeling applications, despite bent conduit being key to a realistic installation representation. However, there are a number of other features within MEPdesigner which help the user save time. For example, the software introduces MEP catalogs with predefined components which speed up modeling time. MEPdesigner’s intelligent part connectivity is exclusive to the MEP components, but still supports connection to other elements within the model, allowing the user to import an electrical panel from 3D Warehouse and then model intelligent conduit from that object. The rotation compass is an example of the unique MEP connectivity behavior. The compass is highly intuitive, allowing for a fitting to be quickly placed and rotated at 90, 45, 15 or 5 degree increments. Alternatively, the compass allows the modeler to infer angles outside of the compass by snapping to other model elements. All of these tools elevate the existing SketchUp workflows.

AECCafe Voice: How will the new version integrate with existing 3D CAD and BIM models from your own software and other popular CAD and BIM vendors?

Brett Stacks: There are a number of ways that MEPdesigner models can integrate on a project. Products such as Tekla BIMsight and Navis are two of the most common coordination model review programs used and both support the models from MEPdesigner as it outputs in the standard .SKP, .DWG and .IFC formats.

AECCafe Voice: What is the cost of the product?

Brett Stacks: Trimble MEPdesigner for SketchUp is currently sold under a subscription price of $348/year as an extension of SketchUp Pro.

AECCafe Voice: Is it intended to be used only with SketchUp or can it be used with other solutions?

Brett Stacks: This is an extension of SketchUp Pro and not currently offered as a plugin for other products. We feel that SketchUp offers the best experience for modeling and that it is important to maintain parity with that experience through the extension.

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Categories: 2D, 3D, 3D PDF, 3D printing, AEC, AECCafe, apps, architecture, Cloud, collaboration, construction, engineering, infrastructure, MEP, mobile, plant design, project management, site planning, SketchUp, Trimble

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