Using Civil 3D to Bring 3D Models Into Infrastructure Modeler

For those who saw my last blog on Infrastructure Modeler and Civil 3D:  you probably noticed the cool 3D car models that I had posted in the blog. You may have even wanted to know how you could take similar content and bring it into your own Infrastructure Modeler projects. Well, if you fit that category, then this is the blog for you!

There are a few things we need to do to be able to accomplish this. The first thing, is to go into Civil 3D and get it set up for importing from the Trimble 3D Warehouse. This 3D warehouse has a ton of free 3D models available for download in to various data formats. For this blog, we will strictly concentrate on Civil 3D into Modeler. To get Civil 3D set up for the import, we will need to add the “SketchUp Import” tools. To add these tools, go to upper right hand corner inside of Civil 3D and click on the Autodesk Exchange Apps button as indicated by the red circle in the graphic below.

Modeler-1After clicking on that button, you will be brought to Autodesk Exchange Apps website. Once there , go to the window where it says “Search Exchange Apps”, type in “SketchUp Import”, then click on the magnifying button as shown below.



This will bring you to the page where you can download the installer as shown below. To start the process, click on the Autodesk SKP icon and the plug in should begin to be installed in Civil 3D.


You may have to restart Civil 3D, but once installed the importer tools will show up on an “Add-Ins” tab on the ribbon as seen below.



You are now ready to begin the 3D model importing process into Civil 3D. Click on the “Get 3D Model” button, and you will be taken out to the Trimble 3D Warehouse. In the search window, type in what you are looking for and then click on the search button as shown below. In this example I did a search for construction equipment.


The search will come up with several results, and you can either download the model or view some of them in Google Earth. You would want to download the model into Civil 3D. In this example, I will download a Bulldozer model. You will be prompted for an insertion point, which I typically use 0,0,0. Then, typically, these model will come into Civil 3D in Architectural units so alot of them will need to be scaled down by 1/12. Before scaling them though, do a measurement on the model first. Once ok with the scaling, you can see in the image below, I did a 3d orbit and set my visual style to realistic to get a good view of the model I just brought in.


Now that I have verified that the model is to my liking, I need to export it so that it can be brought into modeler for use in my project. To do the I will export out to FBX format. To do this, I will go to my export command and choose FBX as the format to export to. It is a good idea to pick a location where you plan to store alot of you 3d content for later use.

In my next blog, I will walk through the next steps of actually bringing the new model into Infrastructure Modeler.

Civil Infrastructure software is my main professional interest. Civil 3D, Infraworks, and Recap are what I work with mostly. I have been with CADsoft Consulting for over 10 years now. I got my start using Softdesk and AutoCAD R12 in DOS. My wife and I have four children and I am a die hard Red Sox fan.