STL files are a common file type that contains information about 3D geometries. In this tutorial, we’ll go over how to import and edit STL files in Sketchup!
Before you get started, you’ll want to download these plugins:
Import STL Files
Pick a File to Download. If you already have an STL file you want to use, that’s great! If you’re looking for some inspiration, or just want a file to practice with, check out Thingverse. Click on the “explore” tab and select “things.” From here, you can use the dropdown in the top left corner to explore “popular” or “newest” models. Once you find a model you like, select it and click on “thing files” under the image. Select which file you want to download and save it to your computer.
File > Import. Before you can edit an STL file, you need to import it into Sketchup. Open Sketchup. Navigate to “file” and select “import.” In the bottom right drop down menu select “STL.” Click on the file you want to use and select “import.”
Edit STL Files
CleanUp. You’ll notice after you import your file that there may be a lot of unnecessary geometry. You could use the eraser tool to get rid of each line, but there is a plugin you can install to make this much easier! You can find the CleanUp3 plugin here. Once you have that installed, hit “ctrl” + “A” and click on the model to select all. Go to the extensions dropdown and select “CleanUp3” > “clean.”
A new window will pop up with a few settings to select. Make sure the scope section is set to “selected.” Uncheck “purge unused” in the “optimizations” section. In the “materials” section, select “ignore attributes.” In the “coplanar faces” section, select “merge coplanar faces” and “ignore UV.” Finally, in the “edges” section make sure “repair split edges” and “erase stray edges” are checked. When you are done, click the “cleanup” button at the bottom.
Extensions > Eneroth Face Creator. You may notice some faces are missing after you imported the model. You can use this plugin to easily fix that! Select all of the incomplete faces and click on “Eneroth Face Creator” from the “extensions” dropdown. After running the plugin you’ll notice that there are faces where all of the openings were! You could draw lines to close off all of the faces, but this is a much faster method! Just select the faces a little bit at a time until you have the entire model filled in.
Scale Faces. After you import a model, you may want to edit STL files to be a bit more customized. For example, we can shrink or enlarge some of the openings in this model to give it more variety. Select all of the interior faces of one of the openings. Hit “S” to open the scale tool. Drag the corner to make the opening larger or smaller. You can use the same method to change the rest of the openings or just keep one of them different!
Now that you know the simple steps to edit STL files, you can import new models and customize each one for your unique projects. What other Sketchup tips do you want to learn? Let us know in the comments!