Sketchup and 3d printing?

Thanks Geo

It seemed logical to do it in the scale I wanted it in. I can’t really control how the internals of the program choose to model an intersection. Perhaps this limitation should be broadcast loud and proud when the program sees small models. WARNING: we are not good at small stuff, and you will waste hours of time trying to get it right. Make it big and shrink it afterwards!

Thanks Barry; So what is fast, good and expensive? What is the best product out there. My three would have been; intuitive, works, cheap. Same as: easy, reliable, cheap? The 20 odd hours I did in evaluation would pay for quite an expensive licence.

Never occurred to me to scale my little 3d widget in meters, or decimeters. I think this comes under the heading of un-intuitive. You’re right, it’s not complicated, but it’s a gotcha you have to know.

For better or for worse Box, ease-of-use or intuitiveness, or learnability are one of the metrics you use to gauge the value of a product. I didn’t need to do a course, or hours of training to learn google plus, google docs, google earth. It was quicker and easier to create a model in the dinosaur that is AutoCAD, than it was in SU. With all the great stuff they do, I expected a WOW from google, rather than… Oh… it doesn’t really work that well… Unless you know lots of workarounds… And other stuff… And spend a lot of time learning it.

True, jvleearchitects. I just have to decide whether I invest my time in this product, or another. That’s what the evaluation was about.

Had you spent half of that time learning rather than relying upon intuition, you’d be light-years ahead of the learning curve.

On reading the manual…
“Users don’t read the manual. In fact, users don’t read anything.”
Joel Spolsky, CEO of Stack Exchange

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Haven’t tried SU for exporting files for 3d printing, but SU Pro didn’t work well for exporting DWGs for tool path software for CNC machining. It would export them, but they required a lot of reworking. Ended up switching to Rhino. Its less expensive than AutoCAD.

This is really an unfair statement. Ease-of-use, intuitiveness, and learnability are entirely dependent on the background of the individual. For example, you didn’t need training for Google docs because it conforms pretty closely to the behavior and UI of just about every office suite. Unless you’ve been living in a cave offline, you already spent your hours of training in the past using those other apps. If you can jump into AutoCAD and easily create a model, that speaks entirely to your prior AutoCAD expertise - very few people find AutoCAD easy or quick to learn!
A tremendous number of users have found SketchUp easier to learn and more intuitive than other CAD programs they have tried.

And all this negativity based on the need for a simple workaround when modeling at a scale that SketchUp’s designers did not plan for? A great many of us agree that the need for scale up/down is a nuisance, and we hold out hope that Trimble will provide a better alternative at some point. But walk away from SketchUp and abandon its other advantages all because of this specific issue? Really?


Google bought SU from @Last and sold it to Trimble Navigation a few years ago. Originally SU only came in a Pro flavor and no ability to add extensions. I started using SU when plugins were first introduced, and knew I was going to buy it after the first Push/Pull - in part because modeling felt so intuitive and natural, very similar to how I work with real materials (wood, clay, Styrofoam, etc.). I didn’t feel that way about ACAD and Rhino, both which seem rather clunky.

Make copies of your model at different construction stages encase you want to go back and change something later, like nudging up an extruded hole on a sloping surface.

I sometimes wonder if an extension can be developed to set up a virtual, up-scaled environment. Until then, take advantage of what can be done with Components. Make your small-ish model a Component. Make a copy of the Component, place it off to the side and Scale it up. Any editing done to a Component will be duplicated in all copies. Make real-scale modifications on the original-sized Component and do things like intersecting on the over-sized copy.

if you like autocad and want something similar though(imo) much sweeter and more 3D oriented, use rhino. it’s not too expensive and if you find autocad intuitive, you’ll probably find rhino to be a bit better in these regards.

re: 20 hours-
that’s (maybe) about enough time to figure out if you want to spend the next few years truly learning an application. Sketchup is definitely one of the easier ones to learn but no way should you expect to have learned it after only 20 hrs use. (again, imo)

Why Sketchup is not good for 3d printing

Well, why isn’t it?

p.s. rather than having an instance scaled up, as many suggested, it is better to have the larger instance hold the scale definition. And let the smaller one be a copy of largest instance.
This makes creating faces, intersecting, and modeling in general at smaller sizes possible.

Endpoints even only 0.0005mm apart can exist side by side in one environment.
Not the other way around.
See attached model:
small_scale_for_3D_printer.skp (78.3 KB)

I know, this is extreme, so practical smaller factors ensure SketchUp can be usefull for 3D-printing, (imo).

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I’m not sure. Perhaps it was designed and built for another purpose entirely, and doesn’t scale well to the small sizes required for most 3d printing applications? You’d think when you clicked the 3d printing template button on the startup screen, that it would scale all of it’s internals to work well at that scale, and perhaps limit the max size to make sure performance was still OK.

Thanks Jeff,

I’ll give it Rhino a go. Probably after I’ve re-evaluated SU with all of the new scaling advice I’ve been given. I’m not sure that I find autoCAD intuitive as such. But comprehensible, and it is fit-for-purpose.

No, I don’t expect to learn any sufficiently powerful CAD package in < 20 hours, but you expect to get a good feel for it.

Wise words Geo. But I didn’t spend 20 hours randomly pressing buttons in the hope that my widget would magically and intuitively pop out the other end. About half of it was what you would probably call “learning”. That is, consulting the manuals in the various forms that they exist.

But there are more than a few things that I couldn’t find well documented in the manual.

eg, My pro licence has now lapsed, so I can’t unionise my solids. Is this even necessary, or can you just print two intersecting solid shapes. I might have saved a lot of time if I had just tried this in the first place.

Try outer shell.

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SU uses OpenGL. The tolerances use for OpenGL modeling have been scaled down as small as currently possible without breaking something else - ie, worse bugs.

Some 3d printers are large enough to fit on a semi-trailer bed, Boeing and GE are using printers in the development of jet engine parts, a printer has been used on a recent space shuttle mission to make a wrench with sights on making tools and spare parts in space as needed. The ‘maker’ market is small potatoes compared to some industries getting into 3d printing.

The 3D printing template would be set up with settings/styles for the fastest modeling/rendering as these models can quickly become very high-poly to get the detail some people want. Some of the printer software can do its own scaling and even intersecting groups to make solids. Some printer software can shell and add an internal honeycomb. So what we have to do in SU to produce some models isn’t much of a factor.

Thanks Box. I will explore the outer shell. Can I separate them again if I want to?

If you used components you just bring in a fresh instance of them if you want to make changes.

SU was originally intending for quickly rendering preliminary architectural-sized projects and other such things by any type of user. A fanatical user-base has redefined what SU can be used for and the developers have responded.

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Lol… Did someone really change the name of the topic? No wonder I couldn’t find any general topics relating to “issues” that SU has with 3d printing. It might have solved all of my issues before they became problems. I’m not sure that I would necessarily look into a topic with the very generic title of Sketchup and 3d printing. But I may look into a topic that explicitly states that there are problems/issues/workarounds/gotchas that people should know about.