Creating a mesh of 120,000 tiny holes

I’m new to sketchup, I’m planning to 3d print some components. Part of the component is a sieve like mesh of tiny holes, I’ve worked out how to do one hole, but I can’t copy and paste it as a hole, only as a shape that then needs to be pushed through into a hole. And I’m not going to do that a hundred thousand times!

a) is what I’m trying to achieve achievable, will the computer/any 3d printer be able to cope with such a high number of shapes?

b) if so, how can I duplicate the holes?

[Yes, I know ready made mesh of tiny holes is available, I have run through many options of trying to attach mesh to various shaped things. Please assume for the sake of argument that this is not an option]


Make the main ‘slab’ bottom face only.
Draw a circle on theat face and delete its face to make one hole where you want to start.
Select the punched-hole’s edges.
Use the Move tool + Ctrl to make a copy.
Pick the center of the circle[using inference] as the start point.
Drag the copy orthogonally using the in-built axial inferences.
Type the desired spacing + enter to set the first offset.
Now immediately type NNNx + enter, where NNN is the number of copies you want in that direction.
An Array of holes should now be made in the ‘slab’ bottom face.
Select - using a fence to copy only the many holes’ edges.
Use Move again + Ctrl to copy those holes perpendicularly to the rest, typing in the desired offset etc.
Now again type in MMMx + enter, where MMM is the number of copies you want in that direction.
An Array of holes in two directions should have now been made in the ‘slab’ bottom.
Select the slab bottom and PushPull it to the desired thickness.
It extrudes making the 2d holes into 3d holes.

Try it with just a few holes in a smaller slab face, so you understand the principle…
Then apply what you have learnt to the bigger object…

Thank you TIG, that’s very helpful - I’ve got as far as duplicating my ‘holes’ horizontally, but whilst they go all the way through, i.e. I can see their circles on both sides of the slab, the middle is still filled in, I’ve copied the faces but not the actual ‘hole’. I’ll keep trying to see what I’m doing wrong, but is there something I’ve missed?

Have copied down as well, and it’s like this - the original hole is a hole, the ones to the right and below it go through to the other side but aren’t holes, and the rest of the grid is just the circle on the front face

Try creating the holes on a 2D surface. The circles (and holes) should then copy. Then pushpull the surface once the holes are created. Copying holes on a 3D block is weird. By which I mean SketchUp does not behave as you might expect when attempting to copy holes across a 3D plate.

You may want to consider making your holes as components, less geometry to create.
Some print software will recognise wrapped components as a solid and print them as one, mine does.
If not you can explode the components and a bit of cleanup and you have a solid with holes.

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I’ve edited my post to make a clearer set of instructions.
Basically I suggest you work on a single bottom face and make a hole, then use the Move+Ctrl+NNNx to array that hole across the face in the two directions.

Now PushPull the face to extrude it into a 3d slab - the 2d holes will then become 3d holes as you wish…

Also, if you need that many holes, it’s best to lower the segment count on the circle or else your mesh will be unmanageable. Depending on the diameter of the holes, 4 segments for each circle should be plenty, and the file size will be 1/6 the size. Manageable file size is important both for Sketchup and the slicing/printing operation.

Not to mention scale, sounds like a tiny face issue waiting to happen.
We’ve all kind of ignored whether what you want to do is possible.
Showing us what you are actually wanting to do would be a better way to get a full solution.

Sounds like a 3D print issue, too. If the maximum printing area of 3D printers is mostly smaller than about 300 x 300 mm, it means that Tony is trying to cram in about 1.3 holes for every square millimeter. I don’t think this kind of precision is possible.


To make really big things you have to figure out how to assemble it before making it I had a big item I made and did a pin hole and tab thing to assemble it

Hi folks.

Click in sequence on the scenes tabs of this SU file for ideas.

Beware that this will crete a large file if your circles have many segments.

Draw larger than real life to avoid problems with segments that are too small (beyond SU’s limit) then scale down to correct size when done.

Best regards.


Array of holes.skp (1.1 MB)

Thank you all for the clarification.

As to what I’m trying to do - I have some larval peppermint shrimp, their food is newly hatched brine shrimp, which are a couple of hundred microns in size, and I need to be able to flow water out of their tank whilst retaining the food. To do this I need a (relatively) large surface area of many tiny holes, otherwise the food gets sucked against the holes. Twice a day, the sieves are removed and cleaned, and replaced temporarily with a sieve of larger holes, large enough for the old food to pass through whilst retaining the peppermint shrimp larvae, then new food is added. It is this constant removal, cleaning and replacement that means a mesh stuck to something doesn’t work, eventually if always gets a tiny hole, big enough for the brine shrimp or peppermints to go through.

So what I’m creating is this

but I need to cover the four sides and bottom with 150 micron holes.

From your responses, I think square holes are going to be more practical than round ones. As to the possibility of printing, the printer I’m looking at says it has a resolution of 80 microns, am I misunderstanding what they mean by this, will it not be able to produce such fine detail?

I’m currently creating the hollow square box by pulling up a rectangle into a solid, then creating an offset and pushing it back down, this won’t work with the hole creating methods described above, I guess I need to create each side individually then find a way of putting them together?

I wonder if printing a screen or mesh would work rather than trying to print holes?

How does that differ, is a mesh not just a series of holes?

I mean like a screen on a screen door. So the printer would lay down a set of parallel beads in one direction, then the second layer would be a series of beads running in a perpendicular direction to the first set. I don’t if something like that is Printable.

You can still use the single skin idea on a box.
Array the holes on each side then PushPull the face into a slab with perforations.

The shape of the holes is academic.
At that size a square or circle will probably print the same.

The 80 micron size is the layer thickness.
Each printer will have its limitations.
I suspect that trying to make 150 micron holes is hoping against hope - at least with most high-street printers…
The nozzle size will be much coarser… perhaps 1/10 mm not microns !

Why not make the box with a much bigger mesh size, then glue a fine aquarium mesh over the insides of the sides/bottom [before gluing on the top section connector].
That way your coarser 3d printed mesh will support the fine mesh ?

Thinking outside of the box [unintended pun]…
Why not devise a cylindrical form with solid ends glued on [pipe connector on top]
Then you can simply cut a piece of fine aquarium mesh and fix it into a roll.
Then insert that inside the cylinder.
Your top/bottom parts an have a groove to hold the mesh against the inner face of the cylinder.
This’ll be easier that messing on with square pieces etc ?

You can make your cylinder in parts which when combined and exploded into one made a printable 3d-solid, which will hold the finer mesh inside…

What kind of printer are you using? The resolution number can be misleading - it may print layer heights (Z axis) of 80 microns, but if the nozzle diameter is 0.35 mm your X and Y resolution can’t possibly be smaller than that.

Correct, like using the outer shell tool.

May be possible to program the Gcode to do that, but that’s not Sketchupping :slightly_smiling:

Why use “Holes”?
Holes are gaps left between solids, so as long as the “solid” bits are greater than the 3D printing nozzle then it shouldn’t be a problem. Draw one “beam” and replicate it to form an array with the gap necessary (move one then type [x99]), then duplicate the array (paste in place) and flip it to form a mesh. Then “weld” it all together.