Flattery Papercraft Tools

When you want to translate your 3D Design into something flat, you can do it manually (selecting faces and rotating them step by step), or rely on automatic routines.

This can be very useful for making a foldable form on paper or cardboard but also to prepare a 3D model for a lasercutter.

Flattery Papercraft Tools is a plugin for Google SketchUp that promises to automate this.

The video below gives a demonstration on the use of this script. While it is perfectly possible to do this without any plugin whatsoever, it is more convenient, as the plugin remembers edge connections (useful when adjusting the layout afterwards) and can do this with less clicks and with some visual feedback.

Unfold SketchUp Model with Flattery script from Stefan Boeykens on Vimeo.
This is a video-only demonstration of unfolding a SketchUp model with the free Flattery ruby-script (from http://www.pumpkinpirate.info/flattery). You have to think forward to avoid overlapping faces. The tools do offer some additional help to correct the model afterwards, but anything but straight cubes can be complex. As always, 3D insight does help a lot with this.

An alternative add-on for SketchUp is Waybe, as illustrated at http://waybe.weebly.com/learn-waybe.html
(but this is not a free add-on).

Manual unfolding?

If you don't have a plugin or want to do it the hard way, remember to group faces before rotating to ensure the edges are unconnected from the neighbours. To group a single face, first double-click it, so its edges are selected with it. This grouping is necessary to avoid seriously deforming the model, since the neighbouring faces stay connected.