Printing my model (Problems)?

Hey guys!
New to this forum but need a bit of help as time is somewhat crucial for this project.
I’ve made quite a simple design that I’m supposed to send for printing.
Was wondering if anyone here could have a look at the SketchUp-file to give some input as to how “printable” it is and if I need to change anything before sending it for print?

The file is available here:

Thanks in advance!

That link doesn’t really work, or more to the point nobody wants to sign up to some website to look at your file.
Attach it directly here using the upload button at the top of the message box, or simply drag it into the message box.

Sorry my dropbox was full and Copy was maybe not the best choice.
changed the link however so please try again :smile:

At first pass, everything looks fine. The finer detail will depend on the type of printing that will be done. The MakerBot slicer seems happy with it:

So hopefully exporting it as an -STL will do?
What is preferred while exporting as an STL?
Ascii or the other choice?

Is that text printable? What would support it, at the base of the letters?

I exported it as a binary millimeter STL file. If you’re not printing this yourself, you should check to see if the print shop has any special preferences or restrictions.

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But now I too started wondering if the text actually is printable?
I have no clue as to how 3d printers actually works.

If printing with a MakerBot, the printer will provide support where necessary (in theory, at least):

In practice, I don’t think it will end up looking like it should.

Each 3D print technology has different limitations. That’s why I noted:

You need to determine what type of material you want it to be made from and then work backwards to make sure that any geometry you create can be suitably printed. Most print shops and printer makers provide quite a bit of detail concerning do’s and don’ts.

As Colin noted, the lettering will likely be problematic in many cases.

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If you can get it done with stereolithography the printing would be fast, and the letters should be ok. But I don’t know what the costs are like.

I have no clues as to what this would even cost to print! Or more the horror of needing 3 of them :smiley:
Anyone got a price range I would be looking at?

You can upload the STL-file to shapeways or i.materialise e.g. and see the price for all their available materials at once…

Your model should print reasonably well in laser-sintered nylon. Shapeways quotes $119.04 for your model:

Some of the thinner parts of the lettering may not be filled completely. I’ve had good luck with 3D printing text by using the Arial Rounded MT Bold font with all capital letters (must be 1/4" or taller). The almost constant stroke width produces consistent results:

Here’s a pretty good video from the University of Texas that shows the laser-sintered nylon process:

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I played around a bit with this over the weekend. $119 sounds kind of spendy, so I tried reducing the front-to-rear dimension (assuming that the existing slot dimensions may be needed for signage or some such). I also removed quite a bit of material from the bottom of the holder area. The side walls are already a good thickness, but the walls along the slot could easily be thinned by 25% or so (as well as the cylinder walls and base):

Even with these changes, however, the ShapeWays print cost is upwards of $95. You still need quite a bit of material and machine volume to make this part. The MakerBot example predicts almost 16 hours of print time (or 48 hours for 3 parts). At a nominal $5/hr run charge, this ends up being about $80 plus material per part. 3D printing is economical compared to the many other ways to fabricate this model, but that doesn’t always translate into low-cost.

The lettering is a separate issue. If you’re not opposed to gluing and painting, I would suggest printing the lettering horizontally on a thin substrate and then gluing it to the sides. This would gives reasonably good results with a MakerBot and eliminate the support issues that Colin pointed out.


Even printed sideways, the initial font and sizes will not print properly with a MakerBot:

Stretching the “Black Cab” text almosts solves the problem, but the letters are still borderline thin in places (i.e., on the order of 0.4-0.5mm). The Arial lettering needs to be scaled up as well, even when using all caps:

Even if you don’t have a MakerBot, you can download the software and run test prints in various resolutions and for various models of MakerBots (which is how I generated the screenshots above). If the print file looks good, then the resultant print run should turn out okay. As AlexB notes, you can also choose from a wide variety of web-based print shops to see if one can provide the part and material(s) and (optional) finishing that you need (at a cost you can afford, of course).


Check out Materialize, Shapeways or 3D Hubs – they can help 3D Print your designs…

Whoa! Thank’s a bunch guys!
Guess I’ll ditch the lettering in all. cutting the material costs a little further I suppose…

I’ve uploaded a new model with a few material cuts but iMaterialize is saying something’s wrong?
Care to take a look anyone?

I don;t know what iMaterialize us, The model you posted might be hard to print. It would be somewhat easier if it was upside down.

The trouble may be with the lettering. Also the lettering was a nested group.

See if this works.

Base004 ss.skp (735.5 KB)


3D Warehouse offers a service where you upload a SKP and we send the model to Materialise to produce the best STL possible. Just check the “Make this printable” checkbox when you upload.