Sketchup and 3d printing - any tips, pointers or success stories?

Looking at buying a 3d printer for a project, and I’m already familiar with sketchup. Through some research it looks like sketch up can be used for the design process, and just wondering if anyone here has experience with the program for the function.

Somewhere to start.

In general, enclose the raw geometry (edges and faces) in a component or a group. Make sure that the component or group is “solid” - a water-tight shape with no holes and no interior walls or partitions, and that all visible faces are the front of the face (not the back of the face). The Solid Inspector2 extension from @thomthom can be a great help. Here is a small example that I modeled from a real-life object and then had commercially printed a few years ago:


I’m using it for 3D printing and laser cutting.

For 3D printing the key is Tom mentions, ensure the mesh is manifold, and that the faces are pointing in the correct direction.

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To avoid problems with excessively small faces that SU can have trouble with, model in metres as if they were millimetres or inches.

STL output files are unitless, so tell the slicer software to use mm or inches as appropriate, or scale the model back down to real world size if it won’t accept that.

In several recent versions of SU, export only selected components or groups was bugged -export all worked though - or copy/paste individual components into a new file before export as a workaround. I think this was fixed in 2021.1 but haven’t tested that myself.