New Sketchup User & 3D Printer...Print Issues

Hi everyone, I’m new to both SketchUp and 3D printing.

First off let me say this forum has a lot of very valuable information that has helped me, I’ve also been studying other sites and video tutorials. I can’t figure out my problem though so wanted to get some input from you all on an exact piece I am working on.

I am making a small threaded insert for a car part that threads into a tank and the other end has a hose connected, it doesn’t contain fluids or high temps. Some of the air may have oil condensation so it can’t be too thin and vent openly.

In SketchUp, here is what I have:

Now first things first the wall thickness is very thin. I may have to start over because I can’t figure out a good way to increase it. If I click on the outer circle of the top in the photo above I can use the offset tool to add some thickness but I haven’t done a test print on it.

I did do a test print as the model sits above. I had some issues. For one it’s very thin as assumed. The top piece broke off with very little pressure and didn’t seem really seated right anyway. Inside of the bolt head is hollow as well as the threaded area but the underside is printed solid.

Any input on things I should be trying to make a more solid and 3D printer ready model? I have tried some extensions such as Solid Inspector and it tells me I have 30 internal face edges and 3 surface borders.

Thank you all, I look forward to learning more!


Edit: I tried to post more photos that would better show things but I’m limited to one photo right now.

Until the model reports as a solid in SketchUp’s entity info window, you are likely to have difficulties with 3D printing. You didn’t say - did you correct the flaws that Solid Inspector pointed out? These will very likely produce issues such as you describe. If you can’t figure out how to fix them, please upload your model. It isn’t possible to tell where they are from a screenshot.

Hi and thank you for the reply.I did not fix the issues that Solid Inspector said, I am not sure how. If I try to do the automatic method it won’t work.

I have uploaded the model if anyone wants to take a look, be easy, I’m new. :joy:

OilCatch1.skp (1.8 MB)

Here, try this, I capped the ends and that was about it.
Your printer software should allow you to specify the thickness.
OilCatch1.skp (767.5 KB)

Attached is a revised version. This is what I did (it is a lot easier than it sounds! I spelled out the steps in gory detail to help you. Also, there are alternatives that would work too, this just happens to be the one I tried first):

  • first of all I made all of the geometry into a component. A solid in SketchUp must be a Group or Component (the next step is why I chose Component)
  • then I made a copy of the Component and scaled the copy by a factor of 100 using the scale tool. I needed to zoom extents to get things back into view. I did this because the part is small, and SketchUp will not create edges whose vertices are too close together. Scaling up avoids any potential problems from this behavior.
  • Then I opened the enlarged component for edit.
  • next I selected the topmost circle of the tube and used the offset tool to draw another circle inset from it by an arbitrary wall thickness (you would no doubt have a sensible value).
  • then I push-pulled the circle down the length of the part until flush with the bottom.
  • on the bottom, I traced over one of the segments of the outer ring using the line tool. This provokes SketchUp to create a face between the outer ring and the circle pushpulled down earlier.
  • then I deleted the pushpulled circular face at the bottom.
  • returning to the top, I traced a segment of the outer ring there also.
  • Then I ran Solid Inspector. It reported issues involving where the tube meets the hex, but now they were of types that it could fix.
  • finally just delete the enlarged version and do zoom extents again to see the final regular-sized one.

OilCatch1.skp (2.4 MB)

1 Like

I printed your steps and putting it in my sketchup folder. I too am trying to clean up my first model for 3d printing.



New users are only able to upload one photo at a time. You can reply to your own post and upload another photo however. This is a precaution we take here :smile:


Check out our blog post about our relationship with iMaterialise and the new Printable’s feature on 3D Warehouse – and the blog post they just published here.

Thank you! I’m printing the new model right now to see how it works out, I’m also trying to replicate it based on your steps so I can try another model.

Quick question, what do you mean when you said you scaled the copy by a factor of 100?

I selected the copy, activated the scale tool, grabbed a diagonal corner handle (for uniform scale about opposite corner), moved the mouse a bit to start the tool, then typed 100.

  1. Just to play devil’s advocate, why go to expense to 3d print when you can probably buy same part for few bucks?
  2. Unless you are printing your self SU reporting solid is necessary but not sufficient condition for a commercial printer to accept for printing. Depending on their print technology they may have differing requirements on wall thickness which is more for handling safety vs stress application margin of safety. Although yours does not seem to have in situ stress issues it will be torqued with wrench. I am sure you do not want to break off at installation.
    I have not seen any info on how the design community approach these issues I am sure they are since some post allude to 3d printed parts used in cars and planes, Jay Leno has a posted video on parts build for some of his old cars.
    BTW the solid inspector flagged issues that it could not fix. However, TIG’s solid solver not 230 coplanar edges it did correct. and model is solid but you need to fix reversed faces.
    IMHO you need to address thread design also??
    I missed TIGS tool not 100% it deleted the top cylinder, that interface BTW shows problems, change back color to pink and do low angle orbit around and you will see flash should not be there. Will get back later errand now.
    BTW there are certain issues most tools will not fix and you are seeing some of the cases both inspector and solver. I will quite often use the free Netfabb plugin to help, some times finding errors especially on batch basis drives me up the wall

Hmmm…homemade parts as part of the fuel system? Not sure how good an idea that is. Another issue you will have is the forces acting on the top part that the tube attaches to. Being so small, and thin walled, there is a high probability the top will delaminate and break off. I’ve not had a lot of success with printing structurally sound very small items, even with high infill ratios. As previously mentioned, would highly recommend that you go buy the part, or make one out of brass.

Bore a hole down through the length of a brass bolt that has the right thread, then cut the head off. Use a nut to make the hex section of your design, then solder the nut to the bolt section (solder…not sodder, and hence using brass). You don’t need to worry about fuel effects on the plastic, and less likely to be used as an excuse to not pay out an insurance claim if the worst was to happen. Just as suggestion.

Simon, lazy here so just had NteFabb correct your model, then exported as stl file which then can be imported to SU. Attached are both files. Both are solid , closed and orientable, but have not converted your model to thin walls for strength and cost reduction. Both files are attached.
oilcatch1_mac1.skp (318.0 KB)
OilCatch1 - OilCatch1 (repaired).stl (516.4 KB)
Good luck

It’s not the fuel system but a vent for valve cover pressure on a race car, technically just a fitting that goes on a catch can. It’s just excess air/some oily residue.

I could just buy one (I was previously using a store bought plastic fitting) but I’m trying to learn for some future pieces. There won’t be any torque or excess heat on these, really it could just be threaded in by hand. The mockup piece I did print fit well into the actual reservoir.

Thanks for those files I’ll give them a shot! Also thanks for all the tips and recommendations.

The goal with the printer is to make small bits that may not be as easily accessible from a store all used on a race car. Nothing major or anything that should be made of another material but for example certain sized push pins, camera mount pieces, guides, etc.

As for the top piece falling off that’s a possibility, I may have to look more into that or just skip this project for something else for now.

My mistake…looks like a breather, but when you said ‘tank’ I thought you meant fuel tank LOL
If its your rocker cover vent, I’m picking it is going in where the usual crankcase vent filter used to fit, so you shouldnt have an issue with the strength. If you are worried about the hose->catchtank fitting, then I would probably make the inside diameter a bit larger then sleeve it with a bit of solid tube (PVC or copper pipe)

Oh no! haha It’s to an external catch tank from the valve cover, I think we’re talking about the same thing. Instead of the crankcase recirculating back into the intake on the race car we have it just going to a “catch can” so we don’t send oily residue into the intake.

So on the catch tank I’ll have two fittings. One will have a small filter to let the tank breathe while the other will have a hose running to it from the valve cover. It’s very simple and I could just keep using store bought parts but I’m trying to learn more about 3D printing and SU so I’m doing it “in house.” lol

Thanks you all are a huge help with this!


If ultimate goal is build parts for actual use I argue this example is so simple it will probably not give you the info to do that form a mechanical stand point , but for just working the interface with your printer. Here is link you may find interesting if you want to get up to speed on the advancement of technology. Current news on 3d printing 2015 • sketchUcation • 1. IMHO one of the great short comings is lack of info on strength of materials , allowables and FEM to support the designs. I would challenge you to try and find allowables for the material you are using for your print and what the stress would be for the simple act of installing with a wrench. The approach now seems to be try and see if it breaks. You at least want some fillites on the tube to nut interface and tube wall thickness probably needs around few mm.
Just some thoughts

Simon if you have not found this it may be of use to you;
The Free Beginner's Guide - 3D Printing Industry
Materialize also has some very good info;
Also download and use the free tool meshmixer ( It is not plugin but actual program either 64 or 32 bit). It gives you much more capability to get your model in printable shape. When you run that you will note it flags areas where you OP model has questionable strength. You can import the stl model I posted above.
Good Luck

Thanks for those links!

Really I don’t want to “see if it breaks” but this particular piece in question is literally in such a stress free environment I just don’t see it breaking. I have it printed out now and attached, it feels solid but we’ll see if anything acts on it and causes it to fail. Since it’s a race car that won’t be done until next month.