STL Export produces a nearly empty file



Hi there, I created a “Wire frame” of an object with multiple layers for a couple of CNC Workshops. When I export it into STL, I get no error, but the file has literally only 84 bytes and apart from a file header and some blanks, has nearly no data in the file.
Any idea what went wrong?

Here is the SKP file: Test.skp (481.4 KB)

Thanks in advance,


The stl export fails for me as well.

While I doubt that your incorrect usage of SketchUp’s Layer System is causing the problem, it is an issue you need to address.

Always keep the Default Layer0 the Active Layer … always.

See these video tutorials.




Your model needs ‘fixing’ - see Model Info…

But it seems to me that your model has no faces to use, just edges [and some component-instances containing just edges].
An STL export needs faces, to be useful.
So it’s unlikely to work as it is…

Also you have a strange layer setup…
you should assign Layer0 to all raw geometry [edges/faces].
And why are you using ‘view by layer’ ?


Thanks for the feedback.

My intention wasn’t to produce a STL file, but as I have only the Free version, that’s all I could do. I wanted to export the file as dwg for CNC cutting. I understood and as far as I know this is still correct for Sketchup, I can use layers to define which tools the CNC cutter needs to use as well as the depth of cutting.

I understand now that STL requires faces and really 3D. The faces seem to be the cause for the empty STL file. I am getting another license and see if DWG works better.

Just a few questions:

  • I looked at Model Info - in the Free version it doesn’t show anything that needs “fixing”. Is this a feature of the full version?
  • What do you mean by “view by layer” - I don’t think I have such a setting in the Free version.
  • The tutorial above talks about moving components into different layers. You talked about raw geometry - can I assume you refer to geometry prior making them to a component?



Model Info > Statistics > Fix Problems
gives a list of issues to fix…

Your Layer dialog should have various options
One of which is to ‘color*** by layer’, where the layers’ colors are shown - as opposed to the chosen material materials…

All raw geometry [edges and faces] should be assigned to Layer0.
Component-instances [or their ‘cousins’ = groups] may be assigned to other layers.
These layers can then have their visibility ON/OFF - this controls their visibility.
BUT it never separates geometry, which is otherwise ‘connected’ across layers.
Use Components/Groups to separate these things…

EDIT: ***corrected typo ‘color’…


Exporting to .dxf for tool paths is one of those very rare reasons for putting raw geometry on different layers, but it is useless with .stl for the purpose you want.


for some cam software this file with, minor updates, should work…

I moved all the geom is on Layer0, I grouped it and set those groups back to your original layers…

only really old CAM software needs raw geometry…

as long as the edges have colour, faces are rarely required, but I normally draw in 3D with the thickness anyway…

I adjusted your styles, to what I have used in the past, and set the camera to PP and export as 3D dxf worked fine,.

exporting 3D is the most important step, even for line work, dismiss any other advice on the matter…

I would also add a labeled 10 mm square, and moved from origin to suit the machines datums…

but they can do that…

Test-10.skp (550.4 KB)



@TIG It looks like those options aren’t available in the Free version.


I’m pretty sure @TIG has simply gotten the wording wrong, I believe he means the option Color By Layer.


That exists. Thanks for clarification


@john_drivenupthewall - thanks a lot for this.

I have a few questions to what you did:

  • Does it matter if they are groups or components? I used components for another project and am just wondering if I need to convert them into groups.
  • Do CAM software accept 3D drawings with the thickness? The CNC cutter I found had only the 2D colored edges as a sample. If CAM does usually work with 3D and thickness, I would search for another CNC cutter. I’m wondering though how different tools are selected.
  • In the Free version, the Style just shows up as Default Modelling Style. Is the style of importance or just a visual effect that has no impact on the CAM software?
  • Re 3D dxf - I looked at the price of the Pro version and for my hobby project it’s too much, especially as I only need the conversion to DXF in addition to what the Free version offers. Would you know of any converter that does a good job from SKL to DXF for CNC cutting?

Thanks a lot,


when exporting groups and components are the same thing, it depends on modelling needs which I use…

I do tend to make ‘objects’ components and then group components…

I’m always using different suppliers, so I request a dxf sample file with the type of detail I’ll be using…

I import that into SU and use it as my Template for the job…

SU Shop would be adequate for most of the CNC jobs I’ve ever done, but Pro has it’s uses for other work…

the most recent I sent it to LayOut for final export…



I signed now up to SU Shop and tried to reconstruct the changes you made. The only thing I didn’t manage to do was to color the edges. In SU Shop under Style I have the options of a single color, color by material or by axis, but not by layer. I checked the file you sent and it didn’t give me a clue as the same default material is used!?



‘Color by Layer’ is not in the Style settings - it is a toggle in the Layer settings [pop-out menu]


Color By Material needs to be set as well to see Color By Layer on edges…

when you Insert the file into Shop, it loses my settings…

that’s a annoying…



I thought there was a way to keep all the style settings…

look over here



I still have problems with the CNC workshop. The scale was still off and he couldn’t see any colours. I created a new file and converted it into dxf. I used BobCAD to see how it appears - the scale is correct and although the edges have colours, the layers show up as blue. Does this have anything to do with that the edges colour is based on material rather than layers? But I guess this doesn’t explain why the colours of the layers wasn’t transposed.

The other issue I have is that I don’t know if I represented all cuts and holes correctly, In particular, the CNC workshop said they can cut from the side - I have a few holes and a recession therefore. The CNC workshop also asked for me to annotate it. I asked for a sample that shows annotation, but didn’t receive one. I tried my best to describe the tool and where to cut in the layer title. Would one of you that is familiar with CNC cutting have a glance over the files and let me know what I need to change?
Test cut new.skp (1.4 MB)
I had to zip the dxf file due to size limitations (3MB) - not sure why something as simple as this requires 3MB though:
Test cut new - (352.1 KB)

Thanks in advance,


Or would any of you have a sample drawing for CNC cutting (incl sidewards if possible) with annotations that you could send me?