3D printing with Sketchup. Source: WhiteClouds
3D printing with Sketchup. Source: WhiteClouds

How to Print 3D Objects from SketchUp on a MakerBot

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 MakerBot.  

In this article, we’ll explain how to print an object you’ve created in SketchUp, on a MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer.

Sketchup 3D 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.

Sketchup Drawing

You will need to take your Sketchup design and export it in a file that is compatible with MakerWare—either a .stl or .obj. There is an extension you can install that will effectively export a .stl file from Sketchup. 

Exporting an .stl file from Sketchup for use in MakerWare

MakerBot MakerWare software requires either a .stl or .obj 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:

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.

Open SketchUp

Click

Window

>

Preferences

>

Extensions

>

Install Extension

.

Browse to the .rbz file you downloaded. Select the file and click

Open

.

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

Yes

.

In the

File

menu, you should now see the link

Export STL…

You can now easily Add the .stl file in MakerWare and print your creation.

Object 3D Printed from Sketchup