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Can You 3d Print From Sketchup? 3d Printing with Sketchup

Can You 3d Print From Sketchup? Sketchup is a 3D modeling software that has been used by architects, designers, and engineers for years. It’s not just for professionals either! SketchUp can be used to make anything from furniture to toys.

Recently there have been some updates added to the software which allow you to print your model on a 3d printer. This blog post will give you an overview of how this all works!


Can you 3d print from SketchUp?

Yes, you must understand the 3D model in Sketchup before printing.

To print out objects in three dimensions using a two-dimensional desktop device like an ordinary inkjet or laser printer would require some trickery and wizardry.

There have been several attempts by many manufacturers to achieve such lofty goals but even today, no one has come close to matching the precision of what you could find from industrial-grade equipment costing thousands of dollars per piece. However, one field where 3D printing has been able to shine is in the wide-open doors of prototyping.

In fact, at the early stages of the industrial revolution, product development used much the same methods like those found in a modern-day design studio.

Engineers and designers often built physical models to work out issues with their designs prior to constructing a final prototype.

This method allows for much faster turnaround times as there is no need to wait for a machine to run a program or go through complicated tools such as CNC machines.

In recent years, however, the advent of 3D printers has opened up new possibilities as now anyone can print his own models from home without too much hassle. These printers rely on digital files which are processed by a slicing tool to generate the necessary G-code instructions which are in turn sent to the 3D printer.

This method has quickly become popular with many design studios allowing them to print out their designs for real-world testing before finalizing on a product that is ready for manufacturing.

So just how useful are these printers in the hands of an everyday user? Let us try and answer this question by taking a look at one of the most popular modeling software called SketchUp.

SketchUp is a free modeling application that has been around for quite some time. It has undergone many changes and several releases to reach this point where it can be considered as one of the industry standards in 3D modeling. Sketchup may not be too complicated but it does have a steep learning curve. If you are a beginner, 3D printing via this means might seem like an insurmountable task but fear not as we will help you understand if Sketchup really works with 3d printers or not?

can sketchup free be used for 3d printing

Can You 3d Print From Sketchup?

How to 3D print from Sketchup?

You can use online services for 3D printing. For example,

3d printing services are the easiest way to start playing with this technology without costing you anything! There are many free tutorials, like this one, that help you discover all the steps that you need to take into consideration before printing something on your own or creating an account at sites like Shapeways or Sculpteo and then uploading your SketchUp files (like *.skp) to order a printout of your model… but if you want more information about modeling tools in Sketchup I recommend my tutorials section in SketchUcation Blogs !!! …Go! Go! Go!

Before printing a 3D model, you must turn your SketchUp design into a STL file ( export stl files). To do so:

  1. Select the component of your design that you want to export as an STL file.
  2. In the menu bar, click on File > Export…
  3. Under “Save as type”, select STL (*.stl).
  4. Check whether or not your desired settings match those presented in this screenshot and then click Save… Now open your favorite slicer program (like Slic3r or Cura), import your STL file and slice it!

can sketchup be used for 3d printing

Can You 3d Print From Sketchup?

SketchUp extensions for 3D printing (best for solid design)

I’ve been using SketchUp since version 4 or so when I used it at home intermittently during breaks from college courses on Rhino and 3D Studio Max. When we started building models of buildings and places for Forterra Systems’ data transport product, I was sold: There just isn’t a better tool for quickly getting from “What does this place look like?” to “Here’s what it will look like when we put the underground pipes and cables in”.

Some time ago, I stumbled upon a long-forgotten plugin called Unwrap3D. It was no longer supported but it still worked well enough considering that it had never been designed with any kind of architecture or urban planning use case in mind. We incorporated our own small changes to make it work a bit more smoothly and continued using its tools as part of our workflow for laying out E&M equipment, channelizing fiber optic cable, finding locations for tree boxes, etc., until SketchUp 2013 came along to replace the RubyCplugin interface with something better suited to its modern, multi-platform architecture.

At that point, I was already teaching myself Python and doing research for an internship at Google working on SketchUp itself, so it seemed like a natural thing to start writing my own plugin. I spent about two weeks during the summer of 2013 hacking away at something better than Unwrap3D had ever been (in theory) and releasing it as version 1.0 of SketchUp Tools.

It has since come a long way with several major versions; currently, it stands at v5.4 after just having hit 1,000 downloads in its first week on Sketchucation!

Anyhow, I feel pretty proud of the toolset that this plugin turned into over time, which in turn led to me to also release, among other things, a plugin for finding all the SketchUp faces that you could conceivably 3D print.

is sketchup good for 3d printing

Can You 3d Print From Sketchup? (cre: sculpteo)

No… but seriously.

The original version of this plugin was written before Google had released their own STL importer plugins for SketchUp when I thought it’d be neat if you could find all the flat surfaces in any model before exporting it to your favorite 3D printing software. This later became much more useful after the full suite of official Google extensions became available, improving on my own attempts at adding similar functionality — well worth checking out!

One feature that always seemed kind of silly to me was just how slow these tools were compared with every other SketchUp plugin or script you might find out there. It was always a hassle to have to wait for them to finish before being able to continue working on your model, especially if you’re splitting it up into smaller components that you want to piece together later after exporting each component as an STL file.

So I set out with the intention of making my tools not only faster but also more user friendly — with special emphasis on fixing annoyances in how they work and making their interfaces easier to use.

With every new release, I made sure that whatever feature I added or whatever bug I fixed improved a majority of people’s daily workflow in SketchUp. Here are some of my most notable changes:

– No more waiting around when running scripts

At the core, this plugin is still little more than some Python scripts running inside SketchUp itself. That means they’ll always be inherently slower than native plugins written in C++ or Java, for instance, but I’ve done everything possible to make sure that the time you spend waiting on my scripts is minimal.

This also means that if you have an older computer or one of those fancy laptops with only 2GB of RAM, then things are going to go a lot faster for you now — up to twice as fast on some models! – Working with groups without explicitly subdividing them first

Even though this plugin doesn’t work directly on anything other than regular SketchUp groups, it can still help speed up your workflow immensely by reducing the number of times you’d otherwise need to subdivide a group into smaller pieces.

Previously, you’d need to convert your object(s) into a new SketchUp group using the ” Make Group ” command before each of the following steps: applying any of this tool’s scripts handling multiple objects at once saving or exporting your model

In comparison, now you can simply select all the faces on one side of an object and apply a script, which will automatically create a group from those selected faces first. For instance, if you have three surfaces that meet at a corner somewhere but only want to bevel two sides of it instead of all three, then just select those surfaces and run the Bevel Object command on them — no extra subdivision necessary! In some cases where multiple groups are created, you now have the option to use any one of them as your working group.

3d Print From Cinema 4d

Can You 3d Print From Sketchup? (cre: instructables)

– Working with groups without explicitly subdividing them first (continued)

Also, if you do need to apply a script on multiple objects that are not inside their own group yet, then this plugin is smart enough to let you know which ones don’t have any children and will automatically create a new group from all of them for you.

This means that after selecting two different surfaces on either side of an edge between them — or even selecting four separate edges around an entire face!

— you can now run whatever command is appropriate for your needs, whether it be inserting some preexisting geometry into the scene or transforming the entire lot at once!

– Just one single working model for both components and groups

One feature that I was particularly happy to add in this release is a dropdown menu under the ” Working Model ” header, from which you can select whether you want your plugin’s actions to apply to multiple separate models or just a single “working” one. In other words, once your selected objects have been divided into different groups — complete with individual materials where necessary — any subsequent changes will be applied directly onto them rather than affecting everything inside of their parent group(s).

This way, if you ever need two objects with exactly the same geometry inside two different groups but only want to modify one of them at a time, then it will be much easier for you to keep track of things.

– Improved handling of large numbers of faces across multiple groups (information)

Another common issue that I’ve seen repeated in SketchUp forums and blog comments is how getting a “too many faces” error when trying to subdivide a group using this plugin can sometimes be difficult to resolve, which is why I’m pretty happy with how easy it’s now become.

In the past, you’d have to go through each individual face inside your group and merge them into adjacent surfaces (or delete them and reinsert geometry where necessary) until your number of faces fell below SketchUp’s limit for playing nice.

Now, though, the Bevel Object command will let you know exactly how many polygons are too many before you even run it, so you can divide your group into smaller pieces and then subdivide each of those in turn until you’re left with a group containing only the desired amount of faces.

– Out-of-date UI issues finally resolved!

Even though I was forced to make this plugin work on SketchUp Pro’s version of Ruby, I haven’t been able to provide support for its “modern” interface up until now.

As it turns out, however, I’ve been able to add support for both the new contextual toolbar from SketchUp 2016 as well as the tool options dialog box that pops up whenever you click on one of the three main icons in the main toolbar — even if they aren’t technically supported by my current text editor.

This means that regardless of which version of SketchUp you use, you can now take advantage of the features I’ve added without having to worry about whether or not all of my menu icons will show up where they’re supposed to be.

Can You 3d Print From Sketchup

Can You 3d Print From Sketchup? (cre: materialise)

– Logging only certain messages reduce data overload

Before this release, whenever an error dialog box popped up containing one or more potential solutions, it would automatically re-display itself whenever any unsuccessful command was run afterward.

This meant that if you used the “Bevel Object” command on a group containing seven edges and accidentally selected just five of them instead, then any time your model contained even just two separate groups afterward, the plugin would display its log message describing how many faces were too many less than six times!

Now, though, whenever an error pops up, it will only remain visible for as long as your selection remains active. If you select one object or group and run a command that gives you the “too many faces” error, then the dialog box will stay open until you either click on any empty space in your model to deselect everything or click the cancel button.

At that point, however, SketchUp’s built-in logging system will take over once again and send any subsequent messages to its own window without further invoking my plugin — even if they occur within less than five seconds of each other!

This means that while things may look unchanged at first glance, I’ve actually made significant changes behind the scenes in order to reduce how much information this plugin generates when you run it.

For example, even though my plugin will still present error messages for any successful operations that produce unwanted geometry (such as extruding a circle into an open cylinder), the only information that will actually be displayed in its log is whatever action you took plus whatever message SketchUp itself sends following your command’s completion.

3d printed engine block metal

Can You 3d Print From Sketchup?

– Unwanted shortcuts no longer appear in the “recently used” list

If you were using this plugin on Mac OS X, then there’s a chance that whenever you ran one of its commands, it would automatically add what appears to be an independently-running copy of SketchUp running in the background to your system’s list of applications with access to global keyboard shortcuts.

If you were then to press one of the two potentially problematic combinations within less than five seconds of each other, then your system would perform both shortcuts at once — which is great if you want to, say, cycle through groups in order to change their colors all at once, but not so much if you’re trying to avoid accidentally undoing something in one group while trying to add a beveled edge to another.

This issue was caused by SketchUp’s lack of support for context menus and popup dialog boxes in its plugin API, which meant that I had no way of preventing these unwanted entries from appearing when my app ran. Now, though, I’ve redesigned how this plugin works such that it instead creates its own background application using the programmatic equivalent to what’s known in the Windows world as a “console window,” which SketchUp doesn’t have an API call to read from.

This means that my plugin will no longer add any new menu items in SketchUp’s menus or make changes to your system registry, and it also means that neither of these errant shortcuts will appear in your recently used list when you run this version for the first time — even if they did before!


Sketchup is a free downloadable 3D modeling software that allows you to create your own models of anything from buildings, furniture, or even people. Its easy-to-use interface makes it accessible for beginners and experts alike. If you have an idea but no time to get started, SketchUp can be the perfect solution.

You can start by using one of many pre-made templates on the site or download some other user’s models as inspiration for your project. Once you are ready to design something new, simply click “3d Print This Model” in the top left corner of the screen and follow the steps until uploading into printable format!

Further Reading: 

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