I was inspired by the question above to make this post and outline the super basics of 3D Printing and the steps.
UPDATE: I want to note that we now have a Printables feature on 3DWarehouse! Printables is a feature that makes it easier for millions of 3D Warehouse users to create, share, and print STL files. It’s built directly into 3D Warehouse, so there’s no need to download any additional plugins. Simply upload your SketchUp model to the 3D Warehouse, make it public, checkmark it Printable. From there, 3D Warehouse will hand your model off to Materialise’s Cloud Services which will analyze your model and automatically fix some of the most common issues that are known to hamper 3D Printing workflows. They will then generate a watertight STL file and send it back to 3D Warehouse where it will be available for you to download.
SketchUp can be used for 3D Printing very easily. Now I am no expert so I hope others from the Community will post here but for a beginners sake I can outline some of the general steps. There are many 3D printers, but I will outline the process with the MakerBot 3D Printer.
- Design the thing to be printed in SketchUp. There are many “best practices” to keep in mind.
- Get the latest version of MakerBot Desktop software
- Export the SketchUp design. In order to export and import .stl files in SketchUp you will need to download the SketchUp STL Extension from Extension Warehouse And/Or search through designs on Thingiverse and export the .stl file from there. (You could also import those into SketchUp to edit/redesign)
- Import/open the .stl file into Makerbot Desktop on your computer.
- Make sure your file is centered and touching on the platform. Also check the dimension/sizing. There are many “best practices” to keep in mind here in making sure you will get a good print.
- When you are ready to print click the “Export Print File” button. It will then be saved as a .thing file. The 3D Printer reads the .thing file, not the .stl file.
- Depending on the type of printer you have, you can use a cord to hook up your computer to the 3D Printer, or some sort of external hard drive that hosts the .thing file.
- Print it!
There are many little details and things to know between each point above. The type of printer depends on many things as well. Hopefully this will give you a rough idea.