Print sketchup files (STL) on makerbot

  • Print sketchup files (STL) on makerbot phrazzled

    One of the local libraries has a new small Makerbot 3D printer. I have been submitting Sketchup files converted to STL files for printing.

    The tech guy who runs the printer for patrons is having trouble getting a project of mine to come out to be the right size. I need this item go be 2 inches wide. The tech guy sizes the item on the screen to 2 inches. I watched him do it. But, the item is printed with a base of 2 inches, and the item itself comes out smaller.

    Does anyone have suggestions about this? I can get more info if someone can give me the right questions to ask. The tech is open to taking suggestions. He wants to get the printer running smoothly for patrons.

    I submitted a file with my own base with supports made in Sketchup. But, the tech guy said he needs to set the printer to create it's own base and supports.

    Additional info:

    When I printed it by letting Makerbot create the base and supports, it came out to be 1 3/4" as shown here:

    Printer: Makerbot Replicator with Smart Extruder (not Plus). (I am now at the library with the technician.)

    Here is a screenshot of what I am trying to print. It is a replacement clip for a messenger bag. So, it has to be 2 inches across.

    Here is the printer:

    I used a website to convert the DAE file exported from Sketchup to an STL file. It was

    If I open the object's STL file in Tinkercad, the object appears two inches wide. And, if I open the file in one of the 3D printer websites in Tinkercad, the object appears two inches wide (in cm).

    The security on the library's computers do not allow me to apply plug-ins to Sketchup. The library's Tech staff is going to eventually put the plug-in in there.

    If it is resized to 2 inches wide in the MakerBot software to be sent to the printer, why is it printing the generated base 2 inches wide and not the object? Are there some settings the tech guy in the library is missing in this set up window?

    Additional notes: The library now has the latest version of SketchUp on Macs. They are working on installing the STL plugin. (Security issues)

    My process for producing an STL file to print is now this:

    1. I create something in SU and export it as a DAE file.

    2. I have found that produces better STL files than greentoken.

    3. I then upload/fix the STL file at the netFabb website.

    4. I then import the STL file into TinkerCad to view it. If there are problems in the file, I can see them. And, I run it through netFabb again. I can also modify the file in TinkerCad. It is no where near as sophisticated as SketchUp. But, it doesn't claim to be.

    I have found that there is a way to export the STL file to 3D printer hubs through TinkerCad. You can see the prices, the material available and the location of the company/person doing the printing. You can contact the printer ahead of time and they can look at your file to give you advice.


    I just wanted to add that the netFabb website does not export STL files after it fixes them. It now gives you a 3MF file format when you upload an STL file. I am not sure why this happens. But, this has put a big wrench in my process. I can no longer fix SketchUp STL files with netFabb. When I bring them into TinkerCad, I see errors in the object. It seems like there are issues with complex curves.

  • It appears that you have scaled the object after the raft and supports were added. As you can see in your photo of the raft, the clip is approximately 7/8ths (1.75/2) the size of the raft.

    Edit: As a side note, STL files don't actually have a concept of units. Each axis is defined in arbitrary units. That's why when you export and import it you have to set the scale appropriately.

  • When exporting from SketchUp you have options for what units you want to export the STL as. Pronterface and Slic3r use millimetres so for these you should export as millimetres.

    You can run into issues when designing a part in inches and then pulling it into printer software which might be expecting millimetres. In this case you may have to scale the part by 25.4 in all three axes.

    As an example, if you have a 1" test cube and you export it as mm the STL will have six faces that look like this

    facet normal -1.0 0.0 0.0
      outer loop
        vertex 0.0 25.4 25.4
        vertex 0.0 0.0 0.0
        vertex 0.0 0.0 25.4

    You can see there are no units anywhere. If you import this into a program that is expecting inches you will get a test cube that is 25.4 inches cubed. Scaling by 25.4 can fix this OR you can just tell SketchUp to export as inches.

  • I´m using sketchup 8 and I had the same error under makerbot, and some times with slic3r. After testing some programs to fix mesh I realize that some faces are inverted on STL file, so this can be detected on preview under pronterface, or simplify3D. before sending to print is needed to check this point; not all STL from a repository is working or is with the right size. If you detect a GRAY surface is time to invert that face to get que correct fill.

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