Get Started: How to 3D Print from SketchUp

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3D printing has revolutionized the way we create and manufacture products. With the help of 3D printing technology, we can now turn our digital designs into physical objects. SketchUp is a popular 3D modeling software that allows users to create 3D models of various objects, buildings, and landscapes. In this article, we will explore how to 3D print from SketchUp.

If you’re new to 3D printing, it can be overwhelming to get started. However, with SketchUp, the process is relatively straightforward. The first step is to create a 3D model in SketchUp. Once you have your model ready, you need to ensure that it’s optimized for 3D printing. This means that you need to check for any errors or issues that could affect the quality of your print.

SketchUp offers various tools and plugins that can help you prepare your model for 3D printing. You can also use external software to optimize your model for 3D printing. Once your model is ready, you can export it in a format that is compatible with your 3D printer. You can then use your 3D printer to print your model and bring it to life.

Preparing the SketchUp Model

When 3D printing a model from SketchUp, it is important to prepare the model correctly to ensure a successful print. This section will cover the steps needed to set up and export a SketchUp model for 3D printing.

Setting Up the Model for 3D Printing

Before exporting the model, there are a few things to consider to ensure that the model is ready for 3D printing. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Orient the model: Make sure the model is oriented in a way that will allow the 3D printer to print it successfully. This means ensuring that the model has a base to build upon and that overhanging parts are supported.

  • Check for errors: Use SketchUp’s Solid Inspector extension to check for errors in the model that could cause problems during printing. This extension will identify any gaps, holes, or other issues that may need to be fixed.

  • Adjust the size: Ensure that the model is the correct size for 3D printing. Check the dimensions and adjust as needed.

Exporting the Model as an STL File

Once the model is set up for 3D printing, it can be exported as an STL file. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Select File > Export > 3D Model from the SketchUp menu.

  2. In the Export Model dialog box, choose STL as the file type.

  3. Choose a location to save the file and give it a name.

  4. Click Export to save the STL file.

When exporting the model, there are a few settings to consider:

  • Units: Make sure the units are set correctly for the 3D printer being used.

  • Quality: Choose a quality level that balances file size and printing quality.

  • Orientation: Choose the orientation that will allow the model to be printed successfully.

By following these steps, the SketchUp model can be successfully exported as an STL file and prepared for 3D printing.

Slicing the Model

Before you can 3D print your model from SketchUp, you need to slice it into layers that your printer can understand. This process is called slicing. In this section, we’ll cover the basics of slicing your SketchUp model for 3D printing.

Choosing a Slicer Software

There are many different slicer software options available, both free and paid. Some popular options include Ultimaker Cura, Simplify3D, and PrusaSlicer. Each slicer software has its own unique features and settings, so it’s important to choose one that best fits your needs and experience level.

Importing the STL File

Once you’ve chosen a slicer software, you’ll need to import your SketchUp model as an STL file. To do this, first, make sure your model is a solid group. Then, select File > Export > 3D Model from SketchUp, and choose “STL” as the file type.

Adjusting the Slicer Settings

Now that you’ve imported your STL file into your slicer software, it’s time to adjust the settings to match your 3D printer and your desired print quality. Some important settings to consider include layer height, print speed, infill density, and support structure.

  • Layer Height: This setting determines the thickness of each layer in your print. A smaller layer height will result in a smoother print, but will also take longer to print.
  • Print Speed: This setting determines how quickly your printer will move while printing. A faster print speed will result in a quicker print, but may sacrifice print quality.
  • Infill Density: This setting determines how much material is used to fill in the interior of your print. A higher infill density will result in a stronger print, but will also use more material and take longer to print.
  • Support Structure: This setting determines whether or not your print will require support structures to be printed. Support structures are used to hold up overhanging parts of your print. They can be removed after printing but may leave marks on your print.

Once you’ve adjusted your slicer settings, you’re ready to slice your model and start 3D printing!

Printing the Model

Once you have designed your 3D model in SketchUp, you are ready to print it. Here are the steps you need to follow to print your model.

Preparing the 3D Printer

Before you start printing, make sure that your 3D printer is properly set up and calibrated. Check that the build plate is level and clean, and that the printer is loaded with the correct type of filament.

Loading the Filament

To load the filament, follow these steps:

  1. Heat up the extruder to the recommended temperature for your filament.
  2. Cut off a small piece of filament and insert it into the extruder.
  3. Push the filament through the extruder until it comes out of the nozzle.

Starting the Print Job

To start the print job, follow these steps:

  1. Save your SketchUp model as an STL file.
  2. Open the STL file in your 3D printing software.
  3. Adjust the print settings according to your preferences. This includes the layer height, infill density, and print speed.
  4. Click the “Print” button to start the print job.

During the printing process, make sure to keep an eye on the printer to ensure that everything is running smoothly. If you encounter any issues, refer to the printer’s manual or contact the manufacturer for assistance.

In conclusion, printing your 3D model from SketchUp is a straightforward process that requires proper preparation and attention to detail. By following the steps outlined above, you can create high-quality 3D prints that are accurate and precise.


Once your 3D print is complete, it’s time to remove the model from the printer bed and finish it up. This process involves removing support structures, cleaning up any rough edges, and making sure the final product is up to your standards.

Removing the Model from the Printer Bed

Before removing your 3D print from the printer bed, make sure it has cooled down completely. This will prevent any warping or damage to the model. Once it has cooled down, use a spatula or scraper to gently pry the model off the bed. Be careful not to apply too much force, as this could damage the model or the bed.

Removing Support Structures

If your 3D print has support structures, you’ll need to remove them carefully. Start by identifying where the supports are attached to the model. Use pliers or a pair of scissors to carefully remove the supports, being careful not to damage the model. You may need to use sandpaper or a file to smooth out any rough edges left behind by the supports.

Finishing Touches

Once the model is removed from the printer bed and the support structures have been removed, it’s time to add any finishing touches. Depending on the type of material you used to print the model, you may need to sand it down or apply a coat of paint. If you used a filament that is prone to warping, you may need to use a heat gun to smooth out any imperfections.

Here are some tips for adding finishing touches to your 3D print:

  • Sand the model down with fine-grit sandpaper to remove any rough edges or imperfections.
  • Apply a coat of primer before painting to help the paint adhere better to the model.
  • Use a heat gun to smooth out any warping or imperfections in the model.
  • Use a rotary tool or file to remove any excess material or support structures.
  • Apply a clear coat or varnish to protect the model and give it a glossy finish.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your 3D print is finished up properly and ready to be used or displayed.