Create Google Sketchup Files That Can Be Printed on a 3D Printer

About: From solder to zip ties, lead acid batteries and LEDs, and especially Legos, putting things together has always fascinated me. The more challenging the better, because whats the fun of putting something toge...

Before I ever had access to, or knew what a 3D printer was I used sketchup for various reasons to build things, and while I know there are better programs to use to build 3D designs its simplicity mixed with my experience covered all of my possible 3D needs. Once I found out about 3D printers, though, there were a few files, that I thought would be really need to convert into real physical objects. The problem was that sketchup did not provide a solution to convert my files into an accessible format for 3D printers. After some searching on the web, I found some software that I would like to share with you so that anyone with a knowledge of google sketchup can create their own 3D prints. 

The only software aside from google sketchup is a program called 'topescope which lets you view your completed files before you send them off and spend money on the prints.

Supported formats are stl, dxf gts, nff, q3o, obj, off, ply, tri, uo

I have also attached the ruby files needed for sketch (see next step). There are two of them and I will explain where they need to go.

Step 1: Add Files to Sketchup

There are 2 ruby files that need to go inside the sketchup applications folder. Afterward restart the program. You can access the files from my google docs with this link since I can't seem to upload ruby files onto the Instructable website.

The files should go right inside the Google SketchUp (your version) folder.

There are 3 files in the photo but you only need 2. One of them is another unrelated ruby file.

Step 2: Exporting

After you have made your fantastic 3D model it is time to export it. Go to Tools> Export to DXF or STL > Export Entire Model > Select your units (please let me know if you have a 3D printer that prints in terms of meters) > Format (try stl first) > and save the file. By default it seems to want to save the file at the root of the HD which is not always a great idea. Try putting it into your documents folder or on the desktop.

You will probably get an error message of some kind. Generally curved surfaces do not export well, but your model should be fine. That is why we check it in the 'topescope before spending it to be printed, though.

Step 3: Viewing and Checking

Download and install the 'topescope program first. Then go to file>open>your file and see if it looks like what you want. This is how the 3D printer will interpret the file when it prints it. 



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    11 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    FYI, there's a STL Export plugin available for Sketchup now, works flawlessly.

    pfred2Hammock Boy

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I like drawing on paper. I have an extensive collection of drafting instruments too. Now that I'm thinking about it I've had some of that stuff since before the IBM PC even existed. Heck my favorite pencil I might have even gotten before the Altair! It is a really nice pencil. I'm looking at it right now. It is really old! Technically it is a lead holder. I think this is it:

    I can only say think because all of the markings have completely worn away on it now. I have a bunch more different pencils but that model is by far my favorite. Eight bucks and change might seem like a lot to spend on a pencil but hey if the thing lasts you 100 years I mean what computer software can compare?

    I like Staedtler Mars lead the best though. I have a lifetime supply of it now. Perhaps a few lifetimes even. Mostly I like Mars equipment the best and I even have some of their lead holders too but I got to admit my Koh-I-Noor pencil is the best by a long margin.

    Some stuff is just perfect, and it is. So far I haven't used the perfect computer software yet. Not even close. Now that I'm thinking about it I cannot hardly even remember a time in my life when I didn't own that pencil. Man I ought to get buried with it or something.

    If I ever lost it I'd have to buy another one! I have lost a lot of stuff but I've never lost that pencil, like ever! Whenever I need it I can always find it. Excuse me but this is freaking me out. That pencil and me it is like fate, or destiny or something.

    have you actually sent this to a 3d printer yet? I've tried importing sketchup generated stls into 3d printing software and 123D Make and had issues with tiny discontinuities in the model. Maybe your ruby files alleviate this problem though.

    4 replies

    it;s not stls files that are the problem, it;s the stls that sketchup generates, they are full of holes for some reason.

    Right. Sometimes the walls of my sketches go missing which is kind of weird, but that is why I review them first to make sure that everything exported properly.

    it;s not stl files that are the problem, it's the stls that sketch up generates, they are full of holes for some reason.