Reading and writing STL files from SketchUp with the help of two separate ruby plugins, is not new for many operators of 3D printers, but for some it’s not an easy task to accomplish and becomes time consuming. Along the growth of 3D printing’s popularity the SketchUp team have been developing a way to make the file exchange easier.
SketchUp contacted the original plugin developers Jim Foltz, Nathan Bromham and Konrad Shroeder and asked if they would permit SketchUp to combine their tools into one single open source plugin, and they all said “yes”.
But what makes STL so important these days is the ability to take 3D digital designs and make them real items using your own creative space. However, even while 3D file formats are currently under review and AMF is in development, the STL file format remains the dominant link between 3D models and 3D print-ready objects. While the STL plugin allows users to 3D print the custom SketchUp design, it also allows importing for modification before the actual printing.
Tommy Acierno from SketchUp explains how the plugin works:
“With the latest version of SketchUp 8, it’s easier than ever to install plugins:
1. Visit STL the project page at https://github.com/SketchUp/sketchup-stl.
2. Click on the link at the top of the page and download the RBZ file to your computer.
3. Open SketchUp. Click Window (Windows) or SketchUp (Mac) > Preferences > Extensions > Install Extension…
4. Browse to the folder that has the RBZ file, select it and click “Open.” You will see a warning message that asks if you’re *sure* you want to install the plugin. Click “Yes.”
So now you’re all set with the STL plugin: you can now export entire SKP files to STL or just specified groups. What about the 3D printer? It turns out that Make magazine released a great issue comparing a broad range of 3D printers so you can find the right one that fits your needs and your budget.”
If you are a developer and interested in contributing to the SketchUp STL plugin project, please visit the project page.
Source: Official SketchUp Blog