SketchUp for 3D Printing

SketchUp for 3D Printing

3D printing has become popular for businesses, hobbyists and the general public alike. What used to be something that could only be dreamed of is now a reality for many people. When it comes to easy to access, learn and use, you can’t go wrong with SketchUp as a 3D printing design tool.

We will explore more about the world of 3D printing and how you can use SketchUp to help transform your designs into a 3D model. 

What is 3D Printing Software?

3D printing is the process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. 3D printing software allows you to create designs that can be repurposed into a 3D printed model. 

In order to create a 3D printed object, the design goes through an additive process. What this means is that the object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created – this is all calculated through the design stage, and by the 3D software tool. 

Using tools like SketchUp Pro is one of the easiest and most fun ways to get started. The tool allows you to design and put together a creation that is easily transferable to a 3D modelled design.

Model Your 3D Designs Accurately

When it comes to 3D design, many think that it is a complicated business of learning software and understanding every element of the design process. Many will see the barrier to entry and having to learn complex 3D design software, this is far from the case. 


SketchUp Pro is fun and easy to learn. It’s simple layout and features make getting involved with 3D design a joy. You don’t need to learn any code, or have a complete understanding of CAD design packages to start. 


A key element of 3D printing is the need to be accurate, this is essential for the design to transfer correctly into a three dimensional model. Software like SketchUp Pro does the hard work for you with its precision and accuracy elements of the design package. You can choose how precise you want the scale of the model to a multitude of different features that enhance your accuracy throughout the design. 

Transform Shapes into 3D Structures

No matter how simple or complex your model, every model in SketchUp is really just edges and faces. The drawing tools enable you to create those edges and faces. There are differences between drawing shapes from 2D to 3D, be sure to use the SketchUp inference engine to guide you through the process. 


For example, if you wanted to create a 3D bowl design, you draw a circle on the ground plane and a profile of the bowl’s shape directly above the circle. Using the SketchUp Pro tool, you can create an outline into the bowl by having it follow the original circle on the ground plane. This is then the profile that is used to help you create your 3D design. There is a more in-depth explanation that can be found here


Using software like SketchUp Pro makes creating a 3D design to be printed, a simple and easy to use prospect. 

Find Inspiration with 3D Warehouse

3D Warehouse is where you can be inspired by other designs, feature your own creations and find a model of something you were looking to create in one location. 

There is a huge repository of 3D elements available from the warehouse which can be used to create your own personalised items to off the shelf designs that are already designed to be used for your own purposes. 


The search feature is a powerful tool that helps you find exactly what you are looking for and the opportunity to share your 3D designs via the warehouse is an added benefit of the SketchUp Pro family. 

SketchUp 3D Printing Extensions

SketchUp extensions are additional pieces of software that help you create your own designs with additional features and help. You can find the extensions here.

Accessible to Windows and Mac platforms, each 3D extension provides various capabilities that help you create your own design. Many of the extensions are free to use with some exceptions for small payments being required for the use of the extensions. 

For example, one extension – 3YOURMIND – allows you to optimise your model for 3D printing and upload the design with one click into the 3YOURMIND portal. This allows you to choose from a number of different materials and compare the prices of the best 3D printing services in real-time.

SketchUp 3D Printing Tutorials

If you wanted to learn more about SketchUp Pro, you can find a body of tutorials on all topics including 3D printing across the internet and through the elmtec tutorial section


There are also some really good tutorials available on sites like YouTube where you can go from beginner to more advanced.   

SketchUp 3D Printing FAQs

Here are some of the more common questions when it comes to using SketchUp 3D Printing tools:

How Does 3D Printing Software Work? 

3D printing software can encompass a variety of products that help the 3D printing or 3D design process including slicers, design automation, computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and computer-aided design (CAD) technologies. 

Is 3D Printing Software Hard to Learn?

3D printing software is not hard to learn, like anything it takes time and practice. SketchUp Pro is the easiest 3D printing software to learn and use making 3D printing easy. 

Which Software is Best for 3D Printing?

You want a 3D software package that is easy to use, simple to learn and supported with lots of resources and used extensively within design communities. That makes SketchUp Pro the best 3D printing software to use. 

Sketchup Pro Plans and Pricing

If you want to take advantage of SketchUp Pro, you can purchase a license from here. There are three options to choose from including, one for education (schools and lecturers) and a subscription option.   

About Elmtec

Elmtec have been the UK distribution partner for SketchUp since 2010, and service a network of UK and Irish resellers. We have over 22 years’ experience within the digital design community.

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