Is there a good and reliable plugin for creating GCode or STL files from

(Tim Odell) #1

Is there a good and reliable plugin for creating GCode or STL files from Sketchup models? Seems like there are a few options but I would like to know what people are gravitating to.


(ThantiK) #2

“I would like to know what people are gravitating to.” – Away from sketchup, that’s where they’re gravitating to. Sketchup is terrible at exporting STLs even with the available plugins. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone successfully finish a project with sketchup. If you’re a windows user, try out DesignSpark mechanical. There’s a lot of very similar sketchup-like things going on in that package, and it’s a lot more powerful, with an added bonus of being able to export proper STLs!

(Kristoffer landin) #3

I would say Philatboyz sketchUcam have worked well for me

(Tim Odell) #4

Great info Mark. That makes sense. I never heard of DesignSpark but I’ll check it out.

(ThantiK) #5

@Mark_Rehorst ; I really liked – which would be absolutely daunting in sketchup. :smiley:

(Jean-François Talbot) #6

Search in the extension warehouse there is a good stl import/export.

You may also look for ThomThom and install his cleanup2 plugin.

Here is my tool chain:

ThomThom cleanup2
Export to stl with warehouse plugin
Netfabb basic to clean stl
Slic3r to generate gcode

(dstevens lv) #7

Modeling and design are still areas where in the mid range and low end the tools haven’t caught up. Even at the high end the learning curves are significant and the cost is a factor for many. I switched from Solidworks to Inventor more than a year ago when I started doing a fair amount of production at Techshop but both of those solutions are far too expensive for many businesses, let alone a hobbyist.

Something I used back when it was Alibre PE is now Cubify Design. It’s a parametric modeler with enough features to generate a printable object with moderate complexity. For example it will support assemblies, not many low end tools do. It’s a couple hundred bucks.

(Paul Gross) #8

I am happily using SketchUp 15.2.687 with the export to STL plugin found here:

That page has a link to the plugin, and install instructions. Very simple.

I have never had a problem exporting to STL from Sketchup, but I have heard that other plugins are more fiddly than the one I use.

Note: I design models in meters and export to millimeters, which gives me quite good curve resolution.

Also, intersecting curves is done by selecting your parts, then from the menu: Edit->Intersect Faces->With Selection.

@ThantiK linked to a model that some might find hard to replicate in SketchUp, but frankly it looks easy to me , and I have certainly done more complex shapes than that model, including exporting to STL and 3D printing them.

I have been using SketchUp since 2007, so I guess my years of experience counts for something.

There is also plenty of online help for SketchUp, including lots of Youtube videos.

I am not saying that SketchUp is the best thing in the world, but I have not yet asked it to do more than it is capable of, and I have found it to be a very capable program for 3D modelling.

(ThantiK) #9

@Paul_Gross , I think if you look at that model a bit closer, you’ll find the chamfers/fillets on that model a bit difficult to replicate fully without spending a lot of time manually editing. DesignSpark mechanical, you can just grab an edge and push/pull it, just like you’re used to in SketchUp - it’s that easy.

(Paul Gross) #10

I downloaded the STL file and had a good look around it - MendelMaxAdjustableZEndStop.stl

There is nothing there that I haven’t done already. Chamfers are easy in SketchUp - you can even chamfer curves and slopes with the “follow-me” tool - which makes things very quick and easy.

Also, that STL has the curves rendered as polygons too - exactly like SketchUp does, and this has never caused me a problem when printing 3D parts.

Your negativity to SketchUp is extremely surprising. Seriously, why would you write that you don’t think you have ever seen anyone successfully finish a project with SketchUp? That makes no sense at all.

And you also say that exporting SketchUp is terrible at exporting STLs!

I assure everyone that using the plugin I have linked to above has worked perfectly for me - it never failed even once.

SketchUp is all that I have ever used for 3D printing, and I have plenty of successful designs that I printed out for all sorts of DIY projects around my home.

On a related note - that STL (MendelMaxAdjustableZEndStop.stl) has a hole somewhere. When I loaded it into my RepetierHost (v1.06) it complained that the object was not manifold.

Anyway - I will check out DesignSpark, because I like to learn new things too, but not because I am having any trouble with SketchUp.

But before DesignSpark, I want to have a go at learning OpenSCAD - there are some Gerber files from my PCB layouts that I want to 3D print, and I can’t figure out how to load Gerber data into SketchUp.

(ThantiK) #11

@Mark_Rehorst , seriously? A 3D mouse is worth the investment?

(dstevens lv) #12

I’ve been using a Space Navigator for almost a couple of years. It’s an outstanding tool.

Design Spark is good and I think would be worth paying for were it not free. If you need modeling and CAM for other processes it’s not a good choice but for 3D printing single or basic objects it works well. Unless you need more complex assemblies, geometric constraints, motion modeling, integrated CAM and better file handling Design Spark works well. It also doesn’t employ the workarounds that one may have to use with Sketchup. Needing a plugin for STL handling is pretty clunky at this stage.

(Nilesh Gajjar) #13

Any good source for learning DSM? Videos preferred.

(Ryan Hescock (Stanos)) #14

I have been using sketchup for 3D printing for a while now. Not the best true but it is quite capable with the right plugins. An absolute must is Solid Inspector and the STL exporter. Solid inspector finds the holes in your mesh so that you can repair it before exporting the stl. I like sketchup because it allows me a little more artistic freedom when I am not doing mechanical parts. Try putting curved letters on a surface that is convex in solid works and let me know how it goes. However doing chamfers and filets does blow even with good plugins. Also model at 1k the size you need like someone else said work in meters and export in millimeters.

(ThantiK) #15

@Mark_Rehorst ; Solidworks can do text on a sphere pretty easily too. You’ve just gotta do a projection to an offset surface. It’s basically just that it’s not really intuitive. Here’s a tutorial: – half of the stupid thing is just creating the text on a plane, which he takes a long time to do. In reality, you can do it much quicker.

(Paul Gross) #16

I have had no trouble with chamfers in SketchUp using the “follow-me” tool.

Begin with a triangle drawn on the solid at the start of the chamfer, and drag it along any arbitrary line, curve, or set of curves on the solid and the cut-away is done for you.

When the chamfer ends at wall with an odd angle it needs a little tidy-up, but the “follow-me” tool is still very quick and easy.

For filets it’s basically the same - begin by drawing the new triangle and drag it with the “follow-me” tool along any line, curve etc to add material.

The “follow-me” tool computes all the solids or cut-aways for direction changes along the way, but the end of the journey can still need a tidy-up.

I’m very interested in the Solid Inspector you mentioned - is that part of the free package? If so, where can I download it?

Thanks in advance.

(Ryan Hescock (Stanos)) #17

@Paul_Gross ​ if you go into the extension warehouse from within Sketchup and search Solid Inspector it will show up. You will be prompted to install the TTL library first which has all the dependencies.

(Paul Gross) #18

Mate, that’s amazing! Thanks heaps!

I love the way Solid Inspector shows big bright-red lines where the holes are. It’s a great help.

The auto fix is nice too.

Thanks again.