SketchUp (formerly Google SketchUp) is a free 3D drawing program that
can be used to easily create printable models. However, there are often issues that need to be addressed before the models
can be printed. Some of the most common issues are discussed below.
Basic Requirements for 3D Printing:
- Water-tight Model
- No Paper-Thin Surfaces
- Minimum Wall Thicknesses and Feature Sizes
- Outward-Facing Surfaces
Each model needs to be completely enclosed, as if it could hold water in the interior space
without spilling out. That means that all nearby lines and vertices need to come to a common
point, rather than being "close enough." See the example below:
To fix this model, you could either move the stray vertex to the main vertex, or you could
fill in the gaps with new faces by drawing lines.
No Paper-Thin Surfaces
A common problem, especially with artistic models, is having paper-thin features. These features
will not be printed because there is not a measurable amount of material there.
See the example below:
To fix this model, you could extrude the surface to give it a thickness, or simply delete it.
All 3D printing systems have minimum requirements for wall thicknesses and feature sizes. These
ensure that the model will print correctly and not break immediately. For PolyJet printers, the
minimum is about 0.6 mm or 0.024 inches. See the example below:
To fix this model, you could extrude the surface a little bit more, or simply delete it.
Another common problem is having surfaces facing the wrong direction. Printing software needs to
know which side of each surface to print on. See the example below:
To fix this model, right-click on the bad face and select Reverse Faces.
To identify reversed faces, open the Styles window, click the Edit tab, then the Face Settings
box and change the Back Color to a bright color such as green.
Convert to STL Format
Most 3D printers require models to be in the STL file format. There are multiple ways to convert
your SketchUp file to an STL file. One of the best free converters to use is the
SketchUp to DXF or STL Plugin
To use it, deselect your model. Then click Tools...Export to DXF or CAD...Export Unit = Inches...Export To = STL.
Your file is now ready for error checking.
Check for STL Errors
It is important to check your SketchUp STL files for geometry errors, as they are very common and
will cause problems such as delays or nasty features on your printed models.
Please view our tutorial: How to Fix STL Errors
Request a Quote for your SketchUp file now!