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Sketchup STL export tutorial

Debamoy Ghosh

If SketchUp trainees would like to use this write-up in this tutorial to assist the enthusiasts, then those trainees can export to the STL file format or use Google SketchUp for 3D printing. This is actually a great effort by shapeways.com to wholesome help of SketchUp trainee.

This tutorial is meant for Sketchup 7.1 or higher. The working machineries are both the free version of SketchUp and also SketchUp Pro 7.

First Step: Open your model in SketchUp and export - There are various free and cost effective add-ons for producing .stl files within Sketchup, but having trying many of them, mostly do not work very good.

It has become very easy to make perfect .stl files from the Sketchup update though (7.1).

Here is how to do it utilizing a pair of important, constructive and free programs side by side Sketchup (MeshLab and Accutrans3D).

Meshlab is free and open source and Accutrans is free for 30 days.

Sketchup STL export tutorial
Image Courtesy: shapeways.com

Export as 3D model (Collada) (File -> Export-> 3D model)

Sketchup STL export tutorial
Image Courtesy: shapeways.com

Second Step : Open in Meshlab and Save as STL

Sketchup STL export tutorial
Image Courtesy: shapeways.com

Sketchup STL export tutorial
Image Courtesy: shapeways.com

Third Step : Open in Accutrants

Open the .stl file in Accutrans3D and go Tools -> Check for Water Tight Meshes...

Sketchup STL export tutorial
Image Courtesy: shapeways.com

If there are errors it will look like this:

Sketchup STL export tutorial
Image Courtesy: shapeways.com

Click "yes" and it will highlight holes with a Red line and Edge errors with green lines.

Remove a large face or area: Sometime errors happen – sometimes these are truly difficult to see.

There is a ploy that could get back to the SketchUp file and erase a big area globally.

(Let us get rid of the flat base of the model)

Sketchup STL export tutorial
Image Courtesy: shapeways.com

Sketchup STL export tutorial
Image Courtesy: shapeways.com

Back to Accutrans & repair in SketchUp: So, now the user are exporting the file again, swap it to an .stl and put it back into Accutrans and, again, check for watertight meshes.

This would let the user easily "Look inside" the model for those annoying errors.

Sketchup STL export tutorial
Image Courtesy: shapeways.com

Sketchup STL export tutorial
Image Courtesy: shapeways.com

Sketchup STL export tutorial
Image Courtesy: shapeways.com

Sketchup STL export tutorial
Image Courtesy: shapeways.com

Sketchup STL export tutorial
Image Courtesy: shapeways.com

One last watertight check

  • OK, save your file.
  • Export it again (File -> Export -> 3D model -> COLLADA file.
  • Open it in Meshlabs.
  • Save As .stl
  • Open it in Accutrans3D and run the watertight check again...

Sketchup STL export tutorial
Image Courtesy: shapeways.com

OK - now you are ready to upload to Shapeways as ether a .dae (COLLADA) file OR as an .stl file.

Ref: www.shapeways.com

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