Manage and export valid 3D files for 3D printing from Sketchup

Summary​

  • 1.1. Know the Material Used for Successful 3D Printing
  • 1.2. Prepare for Modeling
  • 1.3. Orient the Faces of Your Model Correctly
  • 1.4. Create Closed Volumes (Solids)
  • 1.5. Optimize Modeling with Plugins
  • 1.6. Color Your 3D Model
  • 2.1. Import a 3D File in SketchUp
  • 2.2. Analyze and Measure Your 3D Model
  • 2.3. Export Your File for 3D Printing
  • 2.4. Transfer Your File to sculpteo.com
  • 3.1. Reduce the Size of Your 3D File
  • 3.2. Remove Intersections
  • 3.3. Clean Singular Elements from the Model
  • 3.4. Reverse the Faces
  • 3.5. Fixing Solids
  • 3.6. Apply Colors and Textures to the Front Faces

When designing a model, you may need to import a 3D file from other 3D file repositories or other 3D software in order to modify it.

SketchUp Pro can import the following file formats: .DWG, .DXF, .3DS, .DAE, .DEM, .IFC, .KMZ and .STL..

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Importing and exporting .STL files is possible by installing the free SketchUp STL plugin . Use the “File – Import” menu to import the file. In the window that displays, you must choose the applicable type of STL file.

This plugin also performs an initial cleaning of the imported models. In fact, some models found on the internet are composed of faces divided into a multitude of smaller faces. Modifying the model then becomes very difficult. When importing, the SketchUp STL plugin merges all these faces into one, cleaning the edges dividing them. To do this, check the “Merge coplanar faces” box in the import options.

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Please note that .STL format only contains information about the 3D geometry. You are unable to use it to import or export colors or textures.

To measure a distance on your model, use SketchUp’s “Meter” tool by clicking on a starting point then by placing the mouse on a second point. Use the “Scale” tool to enlarge your model and ensure that all parts are printable, depending upon the material selected.

To analyze and correct your 3D model, you can activate the Solid Inspector and SolidSolver plugins. Solid Inspector will flag the various errors with colored circles. SolidSolver will be described later.

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After these operations, your model will be ready for export. 

Sculpteo accepts many file formats. To see them, please refer to the summary of 3D file formats supported by our site.

The table below includes the export formats compatible with SketchUp and accepted by Sculpteo.

Formats

SketchUp Version

Export Colors and Textures

.SKP

Free and Pro

YES

.DAE

Free and Pro

YES

.OBJ

Pro only

YES

.WRL

Pro only

YES

.KMZ

Free and Pro

YES

.DXF

Pro only

Colors only

.STL

Free and Pro (Plugins)

NO

To export your model with colors and/or textures you must use the “File/Export/3D Model” menu in the window displayed, choose the desired export file format and configure the export by clicking on “Options”.

To export in STL format, you need to use the “File/Export STL” menu.

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When exported, the formats exporting texture information generate a file containing information about the 3D geometry and a folder containing the textures used in the model. All of these files (3D model and textures) must be compressed in order to transfer your 3D model to Sculpteo.

Before transferring your file to our site, ensure that it is not too large and does not exceed 50 Mb. In the “Model Info” dialogue box, go to the “Statistics” section and purge the model (Purge Unused).

Once your file is uploaded, our algorithms will analyze it and correct any remaining modeling errors.
To learn more about this, please refer to our page explaining 3D file analysis and repair.