One of the hardest tasks with 3D printing with SketchUp is often making something that has not been modeled properly 3D printable. This means that whatever geometry you are given needs to be turned into a “watertight” or “manifold” solid. In SketchUp there are a bunch of extensions that help with this task (namely Solid Inspector and Solid Solver). But even they can’t automatically fix a model like the one shown in the 3D viewer and images below. Fortunately for us, SketchUp and iMaterialize just announced a solution that is baked into 3D Warehouse.
As you can see, this model is an intersection of three shapes (made without using SketchUp’s Intersect tool), where I removed two faces and introduced a small triangular hole in one of the faces.
I then uploaded this model to the 3D Warehouse the usual way (File > 3D Warehouse > Share Model…) and made sure the checkbox at the bottom was checked.
After a few seconds, I was able to download an STL file that indeed was completely 3D printable. As you can see in the image below, the base geometry was kept as-is. It was initially a bit surprising that the inclined geometry’s opening was not filled, but even that made sense – I may have wanted it this way. The iMaterialise algorithm simply thickened that part so that it would print properly (same with the opening at the end of the letter). Finally, the small hole was filled completely, which leads me to believe there is an opening size cutoff below which holes are filled.
Overall, it’s really great to have this solution included in the 3D Warehouse workflow. You can even apply this to already uploaded models. Great solution, SketchUp and iMaterialize folks! Especially for us instructors of 3D printing classes…