Is SketchUp Suitable for Modeling for 3D Printing?

I have been trying to learn about 3-D printing, and I came across “lo3dp complete training site”
They indicated that Sketchup is NOT suitable for modeling 3-D printing and I’d like to get your reaction to this “opinion”

SketchUp is completely suitable for modeling objects that will be 3D printed. I have done it a few times. After the model is ready and reported as “solid” by SketchUp (a very critical result), the model is exported as an STL file. The STL file can be given to slicer software to control a 3D printer, or the STL file can be uploaded directly to commercial 3D printing companies (which is what I have done).


Here is an image that compares an original object, my 3D model of it, and a 3D print of the model.


The title of the topic is not very explanatory, and should be in the ‘corner bar’ category.
If you have seen a website and want to discuss it’s content’s, it is best to add a link to it, for there are many websites out there.

I knew that and tried to add the link, but my compurereze attempt didn’t work…I’m trying to learn how to do that

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Bear with me, please, how do I submit my modeling attempt to SU for analysis for solid? When you say that the model is exported as an STL file, do you mean that it will be sent back to me as a report ?

search the webpage, click in the address bar, hit Ctrl-C to put it on the clipboard, edit the post and click on the ‘chain’ or hyperlink:

then paste the clipboard ( Ctrl-V ) in the hyperlink

I think that your instruction worked, but it ended up as a new topic…I think (yeah, right!)

I think so, too.
If anyone starts looking for ‘Clay’ or ‘Soules’ he/she might be overwhelmed with the number of topics. Remember, this forum is a public place which get’s visited by Google-bots. They remember a lot.
Maybe someone of the @SketchUpTeam could remove that last topic.

Back to the original question, Mr. Dahl indicated that SU is suitable for 3-D modeling. what would make the website that I sent to you say that it is not suitable? I am preparing models right now and would like to submit them to see if they are suitable to return as an .stl file. How do I do that?

One possibility for why a website would inaccurately state that SketchUp was not suitable to create models for 3D printing is that the website author was not familiar (enough) with SketchUp. Perhaps they tried and failed.

To prepare a model for 3D printing, put the object’s geometry (edges and faces in SketchUp parlance) into a group or a component. (Do this by selecting all the geometry, then choosing Make Group or Make Component… from the Edit menu.) Then select that group or component, open the Entity Info window (via the Window menu), and check whether the object is shown as a Solid Group or a Solid Component in the Entity Info window. If it is not shown as solid, it most likely cannot be printed. In that case, you will need to examine the model for holes, extra interior partitions, walls with no thickness, etc. There is a SketchUp extension called Solid Inspector2 which is great for helping with that inspection and repair process.

When the model consists of a solid group or component, then it is ready to be exported in STL format. How this export is done depends on the version of SketchUp. With recent versions, the File menu has an Export option with a sub-menu containing an item named 3D Model…, which will contain a drop-down list of formats. Choose the Stereolithography (STL) choice. The resulting STL file can then be sent to a 3D printing service bureau, or fed as into to a slicer program for one’s home-based 3D printer.

The OP’s profile shows SU Make 2017. So, Clay, you’ll need an extension to export to STL.

There is one, but I can’t remember its exact name.


This extension does it, and is free.

The only people who say Sketchup is unsuitable for 3D printing are those that haven’t spent any time learning to use it.
Is it different to some other software? Yes.

I’m sorry to be such a pest, but my lack of computer savy is only exceeded by my ignorance of the SU program. I’m sure that I’ll need to copy and paste the extension above into my SU Make 2017, but I’m unsure of how to paste it to the program. When I call up the program, it displays my current project ready to go to work. Where do I go to add this extension?

The SimLab extension only says it imports STL. Not sure if that is true. The one made by the SketchUp team does export as well.

To try that one, open Make 2017, choose Extension Warehouse from the Window menu, and search for SketchUp STL.

Many STL things will show up, but for now, go into the SketchUp STL one, and you can then download the extension. You may see a sign in option, if you do, you need to sign in with a Trimble ID. I think you have one of those with your Yahoo email address.

Once you are signed in, install the extension, and then look at the File menu to see the Export STL… option.

As @TDahl mentioned, Solid Inspector is the other plugin that’s almost a must have for 3D printing from SketchUp. Look for both extensions.

Just as a bit of extra info, if you open/insert your 2017 Make models in the Web Version you can then export an stl directly from there.

Thanks for the extension information, it’s being quite helpful. I did see the sign in option asking for a Trimble ID. Does this mean that I need to subscribe to trimble, or is a non-member activity? I’m not sure how Trimble is associated with my e-mail address. (?)

At some point you tried the web version of SketchUp, and you have about a week left on your 30 day trial of 2020. You used your Yahoo email for that, and you can continue to use that email as your way to sign into Trimble when using the extension warehouse. No need to subscribe to any paid product.

I’ve produced hundreds of resin 3D printed technical parts for my model making. Some are produced from objects found in the SU 3D Warehouse, most are my own creation. Objects must be solid, must not have faces without depth, all faces must be normal facing (no reversed faces).

When the object is exported as the STL you can visually evaluate it to see if there is anything missing. Drawing errors will show up as gaps or faces with nothing behind. The most difficult thing about modeling in SU is not making printable objects, it’s making organic shapes. Figures and characters are a mainstay of the 3D printing world, but SU is not the best software choice to produce them.