June 10, 2016 | ProgressTH SketchUp is a 3D design program free to download with a large user community and an ever-growing number of plug-ins that make it even more useful for designers, engineers, artists, and the curious alike.
It is so simple, children can learn it thanks to its many intuitive tools. Everyone from students and hobbyists to professional designers and engineers use it everyday all over the world.
And because it is so widely used and easy to learn it is probably a good thing that it is also very apt at modeling for 3D printing. Whether you are printing scale models, spare parts, or prototypes for product design, SketchUp allows you to quickly design and redesign models that can then be printed out right before your eyes.
Doing this is easy.
First install the STL plugin:
1. Open SketchUp and go to Window > Extension Warehouse.
2. Type in STL in the search box and then click on "SketchUp STL by SketchUp Team."
3. You will need to have a Gmail account and be signed in to download this plugin.
4. Once you click "Download" and follow the prompts, it will install itself.
5. Usually you will be able to use it without restarting SketchUp. If not, try restarting.
To use the plugin:
1. Go to File > Export STL...
2. Usually you want to have the box "Export selected geometry only" checked.
3. Save the file in the directory of your choice and make sure you add .stl after your file name. We used ring.stl.
Using an STL file for 3D printing: Usually if you are using Cura or MakerBot software you can just drag the STL file into the workspace and print.
It's really just that simple. If you have any trouble doing any of this -- please join our Facebook 3D design and 3D printing group and feel free to ask us for help.
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