How well does Sketchup work for 3d printing?

Hi guys,

I want to get into 3d modelling, and I have access to a 3d printer. I don’t want to forkout a heap on SolidWorks, so i’m looking for some freeware. I’ve heard Sketchup is very popular for modelling but I haven’t seen much discussion regarding its usefulness for 3d printing. Has anyone used it to create models you would go onto 3d print? If so, how did it go?


It works great for me.

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SketchUp works very well to create objects for 3D printing. Here is a simple example:


I use only SketchUp for drawing 3D prints.
It works very well!

SketchUp does very well at my house for my 3D printing needs.

I have had very good results printing (outsource) Nylon PA12 SLS.
And even printed a piece of jewelry in Silver (ring)

You did not mention what you will be printing, but you should expect to adjust your “resolution” of circles/arcs to best match the (limits) of the 3D printers resolution. (As relates to size/scale/etc. of course)

I’m also happy using Sketchup for 3d printing, but did consider something else, in my case that was Fusion 360 as it has a Free option for hobbyists but still I prefer Sketchup for simplicity/speed.

The only downside for me is, Sketchup doesn’t have a “History” where you can return to old iterations/versions of your model; you need to manually create those before you make major changes. (at least that’s how it works on the Desktop version, don’t know if it works differently on the Web version)

How are you getting on with this?

Just saw this now thanks to Phil. If you publish your models to your Trimble Connect storage you’ll automatically get a history. Manually using Save as… to save locally is trivial. You jut have to remember to use Save as… instead of Save.


Thanks for the input. I haven’t explored Trimble Connect much, good to know it creates a history every time you publish your model.

Don’t forget to (use a plugin to) determine if SketchUp thinks your model in fact is a solid. Even if that is the case my slicer will sometimes announce that the model must be repaired before it will slice.

I know its an old post but some one else might read this.
You will need to download the “Export STL” plug in.

Only with SU2017 and earlier. After that it is built in as an export option.

Thanks. Did not know that. My skill leval on the free sketchup is not good enough to warrent getting the paid version just yet.
Even though i have seen some good extras if i did.

I use SketchUp exclusively for my 3D printing. I do have the “Creator” version of SolidWorks so I am learning that as well. It was only $79 a year so I thought that was well worth the price just to learn the program and it is pretty amazing BUT…I am not there yet…So in the meantime I am on a mission to prove the naysayers that SketchUp is a perfectly viable program.

Now some say there are too many holes in the models but there are a couple things to remember and the #1 thing would be that everything needs to be a solid. BUT even if you have some holes, the latest version of Prusa Slicer has a “automatic” solid repair tool that is really handy and makes it almost brain proof to fix your models. Also, to help with this I got a tip on the forum to change the “default reverse face color” to something like a red so these areas show up right away and you can avoid holes.

Also set up a template in mm’s and learn to draw in it so you can export a more correct model.

Lastly I learned to draw at 10 times the size I was modeling so I could radius corners easier and then scale the model back down to a working size after all the adjustments were done.

So its not the SolidWorks or Fusion 360 or OnShape or the others BUT it is easier to use for me and I can use all the plug ins that I have already purchased AND my 3D mouse helps tremendously. This is my latest…I have a impact socket set in a blow mold case that takes up sooo much room on my work truck so I took the challenge and printed up a socket tray that fit everything into a “PackOut” slim case. Much less room and I am pleased as punch with the result…might even sell them to other guys who want to do the same…check it out:

From this…

To this…

The Sketch-up free for the web is a little harder because you are using only native tools and no plugins nor a 3D mouse BUT I have tried it and it does work as well but no where near as efficiently…yea $350 a year is a lot for a hobby but I do use it for other things.

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A common practice in SketchUp for 3D printing is to set up your template in M and model using M as MM. Then there is no scaling or conversion to be done while modeling and the tiny faces limitation is avoided. Set SketchUp to export in M, and your slicer to import in MM and the scaling is done automatically for you.


Here’s an example of what @endlessfix described. This one is being printed as I type this.

The SketchUp model:

The .stl file was exported using Meters as the units. Could also just use Model Units since they are meters. Opened in the slicer the dimensions are in millimeters.

The print in process.

Lighting stinks and a pot of coffee makes it hard to hold my phone still for a sharp image.


Just for fun, here’s the completed print next to an earlier one I did with the same method of modeling in meters. The green one is printed at a lower quality setting than I used for the white one. Screw threads work on both of them, though.

Edited to add another picture because, why not. I switched to PLA and a higher quality setting.


And another great tip! Thank you!