3D Printing from Sketchup

3D Printing is a fantastic emerging technology that opens up a whole new world of possibilities for students, designers and engineers. With the recent price drops in the consumer 3d printer market, more and more people are able to create functional 3d models from their desktops. This creates a new problem – what software can consumers use to make designs for 3d printing?

SketchUp is a great 3D CAD program. It’s easy to use, easy to learn and for personal use it’s free (check out SketchUp Make). Below are a few useful tips to help you prepare you file ready for 3d printing:


When 3D Printing, wall thickness is one of the aspects that can dramatically determine the quality of the 3d print. Walls need to be a thick enoguh (normally .5 – 1 mm) to actually be printable, but they should not be too thick. Walls that are thicker than necessary will increase the chance of the part warping (if printed in ABS) and you will end up paying more for materials.

In Sketchup, faces have no thickness, so we need to create wall thickness by placing two faces a short distance apart. This can be easily achieved using the push-pull tool.


Thickened Walls

No wall thickness


3D Printers can only print solid parts. If your 3d file has a face missing, it will not print! Make sure you can’t see inside your model from anywhere. Solid objects means the model is a complete enclosure, so imagine you were to fill the model with water – for it to be ‘solid’, no water should escape. Also check that your model doesn’t have any extra lines or faces – if it does, you can just click them and delete. A neat trick is to make your part a component (select all, right click, make component). You can then check the the entity info of the file (window, entity info) and SketchUp will tell you if the model is solid.




If you are working on a small part, SketchUp may not actually generate some of the geometry. To get around this, work in large scale (eg x10) then scale your final drawing down before you export.


3D Printers almost universally use .stl files. Sketchup allows you to export your files as .stl. For extra peace of mind use software such as MiniMagics to check your exported stl file for errors.

HiTech 3D can help you with any problems you run into with your 3d models. We have specialised software that can print directly from SketchUp files.Contact Us now for help preparing or fixing any 3D File, and for all your 3D Printing needs.

mine 1

Colour 3D Printing: Geospatial and Mining Applications

You may consider 3D printing to be limited to little desktop machines squeezing melted plastic out of nozzles to create small plastic parts. While this is a very popular form of 3d printing, uses and functionality of these parts are limited.

3D printing for industrial purposes uses very different technology. Follow along as we explore the applications of industrial full colour 3d printing using ColorJet technology for Mining and Geospatial applications…


ColorJet 3D Printing technology (formerly known as Z-print) is an advanced 3d printing technique that can create parts with full 24bit colour. It works in a similar way to normal inkjet printers, but in 3D. A print head sprays coloured binding material (instead of ink) onto a bed of powder. This forms a thin layer of powder that is bound together. A fresh layer of powder is then spread on top and more binder is sprayed. This process is repeated until a whole part is created.


One of the many exciting applications for ColorJet 3D printing is in the geospatial and mining fields. In the mining industry, ColorJet or Zprint technology is used to create scale models of the proposed or existing mining areas. 3D elevation data of the mine area is combined with satellite imagery to create a realistic representation of the area. This data is then manipulated using advanced 3D software to create neat ‘tiles’ that can be printed and assembled to create scale models of small to large areas. Modifications can be made to the 3d data to:


To gain relevant approvals or to communicate proposed works to the community it is extremely important to accurately describe the planned developments. A full colour 3d model complete with the mining excavation can be an invaluable tool for these purposes. With ColorJet printing it is easy to create scale models to send to all communities who may be impacted and also create detailed models to present to governing bodies who have the power to grant or deny permission for mining developments.


Mines are often accompanied by widespread infrastructure construction / implementation. These plans can be overlaid onto the terrain data, so that the printed 3d model shows the planned infrastructure.


Another key part of gaining approval from governments and communicating the impact of mines to communities is showing what environmental regeneration efforts will be undertaken once mining operations are complete. This can be done in a number of ways with colour 3d printing; for example, a separate 3d model can be printed to fit in the mine cavity, demonstrating how the filled mine will look.

Preparation of customised full colour 3d models for mining and other industries is one of our specialties. Please contact us on (07) 3880 6347 or email to learn about how we can help you.