My student's file won't export to .stl or download as .skp. Thoughts?

Teaching in an elementary school, we’ve been designing in SketchUp for years and printing kids’ files. We switched to SketchUp for Schools last year. I have been loving it, especially the inclusion of Solid Inspector.
I have a 5th grader who completed assignments and went home and built his own Millenium Falcon. I was not able to guide him with grouping sections or checking solid inspector along the way. The end result is a sweet looking design with a LOT of errors. I’m also assuming the file is so big or corrupt? that we are having issues loading, exporting, and downloading. Specifically, when I try and export as an .stl file I get the error, “An error occurred while creating the STL file.” When I try and download the file I get the error, " An error occurred while downloading the model." I can open and modify the file. sometimes the file ‘freezes’ and I have to reload the webpage. First time I’ve ever had this issue. We build and I review hundreds of files yearly on my MacBook Pro.

Short of having him start over, does anyone have suggestions of what I could do? I no longer have a desktop version of SketchUp. I was hoping to try and get the .stl file so I could at least see what would print.

@mgrobbel Can you share the file with me to take a look? My guess is that the model may be missing faces or be drawn at a crazy scale (too big or too small) for SketchUp to export successfully.

Just to be sure, did you mean share via Trimble Connect? If that’s the case, there are options for sharing to anyone who has the link.

I only mention it because downloading a skp to share won’t work.

Yeah, I would love to share the file with folks, but it won’t download or export. What’s the best way to share it with folks to take a look?

So does clicking on the File folder icon and then Download not allow you to save the file to the computer?

Screenshot - 2_12_2020 , 12_38_56 PM

For the first time in 20 tries, it downloaded. I have the .skp now. Still won’t export as a .stl file. Millenium Falcon.skp (2.7 MB)

It might be because that the group isn’t reporting as a solid. At least it wouldn’t be 3D printable even if you did get the .stl file.

There are a number of places where there is bad geometry that will get in the way of this printing correctly. For example, the top and bottom halves of the main part of the hull don’t align properly nor does the added bit for the cockpit.

From the top you can see that the sides on the arcs and circles on’t align on axis. You can see this well at the rear of the ship This makes it difficult to get things lined up correctly.

By the way, for a 5th grader, this is a pretty good model. It has room for improvement but they did a nice job of adding the details.

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When I opened this file with the desktop version, SketchUp found a tremendous number of defects, many of them involving duplicated edges (ones joining the same two points). After letting SketchUp fix the issues, the model exported successfully to stl - though as @DaveR noted, because it is not a SketchUp solid, a 3d printing slicer might not like it.

Here’s the export viewed in Meshlab:

Edit: a couple of additional points:

  • Your student placed this model a rather large distance from the origin (about 6’) compared to its size
  • The model is pretty small (about 1 5/8" across), which can lead to issues because SketchUp doesn’t deal well when you draw things very small. It would be a good idea to draw it much bigger and then scale it down when it is complete. Small geometry can exist in SketchUp, but there are issues when you try to originally draw it that small.

Thank you for all the help and input. I really appreciate it. I’m with you, for a 5th grader I thought this was fantastic. I wasn’t able to guide him with axis placement, grouping, etc. What do you think my next steps are? Can you send me the “fixed” version you have? I would love to just try and print whatever is possible.

Thank you for your help and input also. I do appreciate it. My problem is that Sketchup for Schools does not really like dealing with this file, it gets laggy and gives me errors. Wish I had the desktop version to try and fix these issues. Thank you again. Is there a way you could send me the “fixed” version you ran through Sketchup desktop?

I haven’t repaired it yet. I could work on it and try to make a printable solid, though.

It’ll take me awhile, though.

I’ll leave it to @DaveR. He’s about 20 times faster than me anyway!

I’m sorry. I misspoke. I didn’t want you to have to repair everything. I was just hoping you could send me the file that had been run through Inspector or whatever you did to see the numerous errors. I realize, fixing students projects all the time, the amount of work that is. I don’t want you to have to do that. I was just hoping to get it so that I can manipulate the file in SfS because I don’t have the Pro version.

I didn’t do anything to the students model except select the main hull group and run Solid Inspector 2. That didn’t make any actual changes to the model.

FWIW, I’ve been plugging away and redoing the model. I have a little way to go, though.

I think the SketchUp for Schools version includes Solid Inspector (lowest button on the right.) and you might run that to see what you get.

Thank you so much again. SfS does have Solid Inspector. They added it last year. I find it invaluable. The problem is that it only inspects groups, so I usually group my students work that isn’t yet grouped. For this model, the lag, and the nested groups didn’t allow me to easily fix through Solid Inspector. Usually (on this project), things just lagged out, not allowing me to continue. I also find that if I group all the groups, Solid Inspector skips a lot of errors. In other words, if I inspect individual groups I may find 276 short edges on the cockpit and then 19,000+ short edges on the fuselage group, but when all grouped together there are a total of 111 short edges and then 9 nested groups.

It’s generally best to select groups one at a time to check with Solid Inspector. the cannons were solid if that’s any consolation. :slight_smile: I reused them.

I’ve been combining components as I go to make sure the model remains as a solid. (I prefer to use components over groups for a number of reasons.) I haven’t combined the cannons or the vents yet. Many slicers will handle the separate solids just fine without combining them so your students could probably make small bits as solids and place them together.

Going back to part of the original problem, can this same student save other SketchUp models?

As a side note, the cannons and the dish thing (never seen starwars) would be probably be better printed separately and stuck on.

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This student didn’t have problems saving to my knowledge. I have them turn in the .skp file and then I inspect it. After that I export to .stl and print. My issue was inspecting the model and how SfS wasn’t able to export, save consistently, and not lag out. I really think the file had too many errors, was too small in scale, and bigger than Chrome wanted to handle.
Curious why you prefer components over groups? I generally teach my students that if something is unique they should make it a group and if they will be repeating/reusing something it should be a component. As “Box” mentions in the next comment, we are starting to get to the point with some students who realize difficult to print projects, that are grouped, can easily be taken apart and individual pieces placed on the ‘floor’ for printing. Then we typically hot glue them together. We’re not quite there yet, but students (and myself) are improving in technique.
Again, thank you for your help. My goal was to try and get an .stl file from his project and see what we could get from printing. I’m very much about learning from attempts. I had advised him to start a 2.0 version and group different parts as he went along so that we could check solid inspector along the way.


V2.0 is a good idea and splitting it up will help.

You might be right about the file size and the tiny geometry. I saved out my version of it as shown in my last screen shot. It’s under 1 Mb. I used more segments for the curves on the main part of the hull as well as the extension for the cockpit. I suppose that thing has a name but I don’t know what it really is.