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:
1. THICKEN THOSE WALLS
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.
2. MAKE IT WATERTIGHT
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.
3. CHECK THE SCALE
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.
4. SAVE AS .STL AND CHECK FOR ERRORS.
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.