Using Soften Edges for Solids


I am an Architect by trade but enjoying SU Pro 2017 and my home 3D printer for a year now just playing around making solids and exporting to STL and printing. I have enjoyed making animals which require smooth and fluid shapes. I was wondering if anyone has played with the “Soften Edges” feature of Sketchup and if you have been able to determine if it makes a difference in a 3D model when it is printed? I ask because some of my models still seem to come out segmented on the smooth curves even when I think I have increase the number of segments. I wonder what I have to do to make them smoother. Appreciate any help.


Soften Edges is a display thing. It doesn’t actually change the angle between faces which causes the faceted surfaces you are seeing.

Reducing the number of segments would make the facets larger. It won’t make the curved surfaces smoother. To make them smoother, you need to increase the number of segments to make the facets smaller.


Thanks for the quick response DaveR


Increase the segments - that is what I meant. Thanks.


If you increased the number of segments and you’re still getting the facets, you might be able to increase them more. There are limits and because SketchUp always represents curved surfaces with a collection of flat faces, you’ll never get away from it entirely. maybe a bit of sandpaper is the answer.


Video on soft vs smooth

As @DaveR said, though, it is only for display in SketchUp. When you export a .STL file for printing, you will get the surfaces as they exist without any smoothing (or smoothening).


I also just discovered the extension Soap Skin and Bubbles and was wondering if that will help my curved faces be smoother. Has anyone experimented or had success with that? It is really cool.


It might help only if you increase the number of segments and make the faces smaller. It doesn’t matter what extensions you use, they won’t change how SketchUp approximates curved surfaces.


Aaron - I did see that video but didn’t know it only applied to the image on the screen. Too Bad. Thanks.


STL is not a CAD nor graphics program and probably not the best choice for what you want to do. There are some programs you can use to decimate or interpolate to make model more"lumpy" or smoother. Changing segment count in SU when you have gotten to the model stage your are I think puts you at the redraw point unless there is a plugin I am not aware of. Post you model, it is almost 100% certain some one knows how to get smoother the way you want although it will take a few steps and model size will get larger.
It is a plus you have the PRO version and you have more export options.
Just some thoughts.


@Mac : I use Sketchup Pro to model and export to STL because that is what my 3D printer accepts. Unless I am missing something, I will continue with just playing around with Sketchup. Not really interested in another software to play with the STL file.


Sorry _ was not clear enough. I was not implying you cannot use STL for printing nor you need to use different software for one case. There are techniques / programs and folks who can use them to smooth the model if you are willing to post it. This not a trival exercise and I would not expect you do that. If you do that on a regular bases then you would need to learn.
I tried to find Knight example in warehouse and use Fredo’s tools to try and smooth but first go was a bust but , for any further effort would want the actual model in question. You indicate the model is yours so you have control on how smooth it is by segments used and as Dave R suggests so you need to decide what the spec should be and then model accordingly.