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STL files are the most common file type for models designed for 3D printing. If you’re trying to work with STL files within SketchUp, you’ll find it challenging because all of the faces are subdivided and there are a ton of extra edges throughout. In this article, I share my tips for working with and modifying STL files so you can 3D print them.

If you’re into 3D printing, you’re probably familiar with sites like Thingiverse and Youmagine, which host thousands of free 3D models from users all over the world that you can download and print out on your 3D printer. If you want to print a model, you just download the STL file, load it into your printer software, (I use Cura, from Ultimaker), and you’re all set.

But what if you want to make some changes to the model? If you open it in SketchUp, you’ll probably notice a lot of problems with the STL file that make it really difficult to edit. Things like subdivided faces, (Edges that divide a face into multiple faces, even though they are on the same plane), make it impossible to use the Push/Pull tool on a surface. Many times they are missing faces altogether, or extraneous edges acting as prison bars over any holes or cutouts in the model.

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Moving and rotating objects in SketchUp are the most common manipulations you can do to objects. This article will show you the various ways you can rotate objects, and show you a few shortcuts as well.

Rotating objects is one of the fundamental tasks you perform while 3D modeling. In the spirit of simplicity, SketchUp comes with one tool for this task; the Rotate tool. But this one tool has many hidden features that can give you all the functionality you would ever need to manipulate objects in SketchUp.

You even have the ability to rotate objects without using the Rotate tool.

There’s a really handy shortcut for rotating groups and components using the Move tool. If you think about it, if you need to rotate an object, you’re probably moving it into position as well, so it’s really convenient to not have to switch tools if you don’t have to.
Move Tool

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The next annual release of SketchUp is here. Aside from the numerous performance enhancements to SketchUp and Layout, there have been some additional features added to both programs that I’m very excited about. I’ve also updated the SketchUp to LayOut …

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To celebrate the launch of my new book ‘SketchUp to LayOut”, I hosted a free webinar on launch day. (If you missed the webinar, you can watch the replay at www.Sketchuptolayout.com) This was my first ever live event, so needless to say it didn’t go off without a hitch. Shortly after the webinar, I slapped myself on the forehead as I realized some of the essential tips I forgot to mention in the webinar. So here they are:

The Best Feature of LayOut

This one is so obvious, I can’t believe I forgot to mention it. Hands down, the best reason you should be using LayOut to present your SketchUp models is that LayOut maintains a dynamic link to your SketchUp models. This means that you can insert viewports of your SketchUp model into a LayOut document, and if you ever make any changes to the model down the road, you can tell LayOut to update the viewports to reflect those changes.
Sketchup Layout update
There are a few things to watch out for, but first, let me bring you up to speed on how viewports and model references work:

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SketchUp_tape_measureWith the Tape Measure tool, you can create an infinite guide line in SketchUp that allows you to use the power of the Inference System to snap to. I use guides all the time in my model to help me model accurately. But I also find myself creating “custom guide geometry” in order to help me place objects that are difficult to inference. In this post, I’ll show you how to create your own guide geometry.

If you don’t know about the Tape Measure tool, you should. It’s a great way to create a special type of line called a guide line that you can snap to in your model. I use them all the time when modeling. I’ll add a few in order to position an object, then delete them right after I’m done using them. Other times I’ll just leave guides in the model till I get overwhelmed with dashed lines everywhere,at which point I’ll go to the Edit menu and select “Delete guides” to get rid of them all.

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