Can I increase export stl file resolution?


Autodesk 123D is shutting down. I had been using 123D Design for my 3D modelling, but I don’t want to continue learning an abandoned software platform. So I’m trying Sketchup, to see if it can work. I’ve installed the stl extension from extension warehouse, and it does generate STL files. However, curved sections are rendered very crudely, at very low res. For example, spheres are made up of plainly visible triangular sections. Tubes and curves are made up of plainly visible short, straight lines. That won’t work for what I need to do. I need finely rendered curves and spheres.

Is there any way to increase the stl export resolution, so that spheres will print as actual spheres?

Thanks - Charlie


SketchUp approximates curved edges with short line segments and curved surfaces with small faces. You can control how smooth those curves are when drawing the model by adjusting the number of segments used. For example, with the sphere, you can increase the number of sides the circles have so you get a smoother surface. This will translate into the “higher resolution” you want in your STL export.

There are size limitations. SketchUp won’t create line segments of less than about .001 in. so for smaller models, you might need to work at a larger scale.


Thanks, Dave - that’s encouraging. You state that I can adjust the number of segments used. How do I do that? Thanks - Charlie


For a circle or an arc, select the tool and before starting to use it, type the desired number of sides and hit enter. You’ll see the default number in the Measurements box and the number will change to the value you type. (Do not click in the measurements window. If it’s possible to change the number displayed there, simply typing will change it.)


Thanks, Dave - I’ve tried that, but wasn’t able to make it work. When I
select a circle, the number in the lower right says 24. When I type 100,
the number in the lower right box changes to 100. I then click on the
mouse to set the circle position, move the mouse to set the radius, and
click again. That leaves a circle on the screen. I then grab the
push/pull tool, click on the circle, and drag it up to create a cylinder.
Unfortunately, that cylinder only has 24 sides. I’m using the free version
of sketchup2017, running on a win7 64 bit platform.

Sorry to be a pain in the butt, Dave. Any ideas?

Thanks - Charlie


Hi, Dave - never mind. I think I’ve got it working now. At least, I’m
getting more segments than I was before. I may have been forgetting to
press enter after entering the number of segments. At least, I’m getting
some action now, so I’ll continue to play with it. Thanks for all your
help! >Charlie


There is a practical limit to the number of sides you can or need to use. If the radius is too small the program will limit the number. In most cases 100 sides is likely overkill to. No matter what, I find it best to use a number that is a multiple of 12.


Hi, Dave - thanks, I’ve got it working now. I’m not sure sketchup is right for what I want it to do. I’m working with various components, measuring from about 4 mils to 100 mils in size. If I choose a number of sides that will work for a 4 mm curve, then it’s too rough for a 100mm part; and if I choose a number that will work for a 100mm part, then it craters when I try to build a smaller part. Trying to guess at an appropriate number of facets for each individual curve is quite time consuming (and frustrating). For all its faults, 123D design had this one solved; exporting as an STL brought up a dialog box where you selected the quality, and then 123D design did all the calculating for you.

Sigh. I’m definitely missing 123D. I’ll take a look at some of the other 3D programs out there. Maybe I’ll wind up back here. At any rate, thanks for your help. Take care! >Charlie


Have you looked into Fusion 360? It’s 123D’s big brother, and they’ve tried to make it easy to convert your old files:

Fusion is much better than Sketchup for small and curvy models.


hey, d12dzr - yes, I looked at fusion, and I might well wind up there. My
big complaint with fusion is that you can’t save files locally; they’re
stored on Autodesks computer, and you can’t change that. That’s also true
of stl files; you cannot save an stl file locally. Instead, you tell
fusion what slicer program you want to use, and it delivers the file
directly to the slicer without your involvement. The only thing you can
save is the file from your slicing program.

There is the option of working off line with fusion, but your files are not
accessible; they are stored within fusion, and deleted after 90 days.

I don’t like the big brother aspect to this, so I’m looking for an

And I don’t understand why it’s so dammed important to Autodesk that you
store your files on their computer, anyway. It bothers me a lot.

So, that’s why I’m looking for an alternative.

Take care! >Charlie


Charlie, I know what you mean about big brother, sadly most companies are going the ‘cloud’ route. On the plus side, it is nice to never have to worry about losing files in a hard drive crash.

Regarding saving files, maybe they’ve changed some things since you last looked - it is possible now to save files locally.

For STL’s it’s very simple - right click the part in the feature tree, and “Save as STL”, or uncheck the “send to slicer” button.

For saving the native file, you can export an archive, like this:

Hope that helps…if not good luck :slight_smile:


YES!!! D12dozr, that works beautifully! I can now save fusion files locally, and save STL files locally, as well. Tried it, tested it… it works. Fantastic.

Okay, I think my search is at an end. I’m going to commit to Fusion. The DNA of Fusion is similar to 123D Design, so not all of my learning will be wasted. And the ability to maintain control of my own work has been preserved.


Thanks a lot, guy. You just saved me a lot of time!

Keep rockin! >Charlie


If this is for printing I’m sure the print software can scale the model at the last step. Which means you could work with a much bigger version, and not run into the problems you get with tiny geometry. Make it be 4 metres instead of 4 millimetres.


Glad to help, buddy! :wink:


you may want check the MeshKit plugin for remeshing purposes.


Hey, I came in here looking for help with this topic (which thanks again everyone, helping someone else end their nightmare). Fusion 360 does actually let you save stuff offline, it’s just a different way of doing so for the drawing files; you do a “Save as” file, and you can choose where it goes.

as for saving .stl files in fusion 360, you do “File” -> “3D print” instead of the “make” button. A dialog box appears that has a set of drop downs. The two important ones here are the ones that say “refinement options” and “output”.

Immediately uncheck the box that says “Send to 3D print Utility” under “output”, and this will do two things. The first thing is it will unlock two greyed out boxes under “Refinement options” and the second is it will let you save your .stl to your computer. As for the refinement options, the defaults should be good, though I recommend setting “surface deviation” to .0002mm and maximum edge length to .005mm; this will result in a .stl file that is gorgeous, but not needlessly oversized.


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