Design, creativity, inspiration words. Source: ArtFamily/Shutterstock.com
Design, creativity, inspiration words. Source: ArtFamily/Shutterstock.com

Many people begin 3D printing because they like the idea of creating their own, unique product, and then making their creation a reality. There is something extraordinary about designing something digitally on a screen and a short time later holding the physical object you designed.

You don’t have to be a CAD guru or a drafting specialist to this. With a little bit of time and practice, you can create, design, or invent a project to print on your Afinia 3D Printer or through WhiteClouds 3D Printables.

In this article, we’ll explain how to print an object you’ve created in SketchUp, on an Afinia 3D printer.

SketchUp3D Software

We won’t get into how to use SketchUp in this article. There are many helpful tutorials, paid and free, available at http://www.SketchUp.com/intl/en/training/online.html. You can also find informative videos on YouTube.

In this example, we designed a simple button in SketchUp. See Figure 1.

You will need to take your SketchUp design and export it into an STL file so that it is compatible with the Afinia. There is an extension you can install that will effectively export an STL file from SketchUp. 

Exporting an STL file from SketchUp for use in the Afinia

Afinia software requires an STL file type in order to print a 3D model. However, SketchUp doesn’t export these file types out of the box. You’ll need to download and install an extension.

The extension is a free and has worked well for us. Follow these steps to download and install the extension:

1.)      Click the link at the top of this webpage (https://github.com/SketchUp/SketchUp-stl) to download the extension and save it to a practical location, like your desktop.

2.)      Open SketchUp

3.)      Click Window > Preferences > Extensions > Install Extension. See Figure 2.

4.)      Browse to the RBZ file you downloaded. Select the file and click Open.

5.)      A window will open asking if you’re sure you want to install this plugin. Click Yes.

6.)      In the File menu, you should now see the link Export STL…

You can now easily open the STL file in the Afinia software and print your creation. See image Figure 3 to the picture of the button we designed.