View Full Version : Convert Sketchup drawings to CNC ?

03-08-2009, 11:20 AM
What workflow are you using to convert your Sketchup drawings to CNC ?

03-08-2009, 12:12 PM
What workflow are you using to convert your Sketchup drawings to CNC ?

In truth that's a big problem:exclaim:
There are some .skp to stl converters in the open source, but they are worth what you pay for them! not a lot.
I have tried CadSpan who were contracted by Google to write a stl export tool. It does work, but you need to be online to use it. The job is sent to their server where it is processed and a while later you get to retrieve the finished stl files in a zip format. It works, but I'd rather have an off line solution. BTW the basic tool is free, they have a 30 day free trial for the pro version, after that you pay something like $32 per month:cry:

There is another method I have used, this was to export the stl files to a rapid prototype 3D printer. It needs the geometry to be correct down to microns. :surprised: So this method is not recommended for that type of process.

Method: Requires MeshLAB, it's free open source.
1. Export 3D model, (it creates a .KMZ file) (this is a google zip format file)
2. rename extension to .zip
3. extract the .DAE file from the model subfolder in the model.zip file
4. Open the .DAE file in MeshLAB
5. SaveAS in .STL format.
6. Open the .stl in a suitable CAM tool.
Make chips

I wanted to stress that Sketchup is a wonderful Proof of Concept tool. Not recommended for model manufacture.
If you have other CAM tools, then use those. I have access to ArtCAM, SolidEdge, MasterCAM, and Alpha Licam. Not all of these will open the .stl format.


05-08-2009, 04:48 PM

I must stress that I have not used Sketchup for models to be milled or routed.

The only real world model that was made was made on a 3D printer here at college. The 3D printer driver is very unforgiving of small errors, or of faces that appear to be adjacent, but which prove to be not touching when you get in really close. Make full use of the transparent button in the Face Style toolbar. That way you get to see if a pillar is not touching the base (for example)

I can try one of my tree coin designs an see what happens. It's getting from the .skp or .kmz to .stl or .dxf to port into a CAM that's the challenge.
Drawing the model is the easy part!!

more to come I'm sure :exclaim::exclaim:

05-08-2009, 07:22 PM
I have come up with a challenge :exclaim:

to model one of the shaft supports on the Marchant Dice site. (hope he dony mind!) His'll be cheaper than our efforts lol

OK Attached are the dimensions and a photo of the Shaft Support.
Challenge is to model this in Sketchup and produce G Code for Mach3 to machine it. Lets do a 16mm version
There is no prize, just some :beer:

To make this fair, post a 2D export of the model from Sketchup, and the G Code. How you get from the model to G Code is the real challenge. No Cheating :nope:

05-08-2009, 08:36 PM
Yes ,,, well ,,,, :whistling:

I can get the model, but I can't get it imported into any of the CAM tools I have available!:sad:

So ... aahmmm

Challenge off :yahoo::clap:

05-08-2009, 08:38 PM
I have come up with a challenge as well:whistling:
You have to sketch up all the plans for my gantry end plates and Z axis plates, produce the Gcode and provide me with all the Ali plates cut and ready to go.!!. . . . . . No rush so long as there ready for friday.:rofl:

How you get it to me is up too you.. . . lmao

All that detail you ask for I supplied already!

06-08-2009, 02:14 PM
Just ordered some proper cutters for ali from cutwel - http://www.cutweltools.co.uk/,

6mm 2 flute ali power cutters - 7.00 each
3mm 2 flute ali power cutters - 7.00 each

6mm Ali power ripper cutter - 18.62 each

Stocked up on WD40 as well (easier than making my own!)

Asked them about the K2 coated carbide throw away's and they are still doing them at 2.50 (up to 7.9mm dia) so ordered some of those as well.

Will let you know tomorrow how i get on.

06-08-2009, 06:01 PM
Since Sketchup Pro can export AutoCad files, would that solve the problem of importing in to CAM programs ?

Yes, I'm sure it does. The thing is, most of us are allergic to spending money. Exporting .DXF files is only the start of the trouble.
It's the import of that into the CAM engine to generate the G Code.
All the tools I tried, got tangled up in knots.

:redface: admittedly I really don't know how to drive MasterCAM. ArtCam took in the dxf and flattened it! It doesn't import STL files.

I know that I can model it in such a way for the likes of ACE converter Or G-Scriber to make. I hoped there was a tool available to me that could take the 3D model and dump out G Code.

NOTE to Moderator: This thread has gone way off topic. Could one of you put it some place more suitable? Please?

06-08-2009, 06:08 PM
What workflow are you using to convert your Sketchup drawings to CNC ?

Dave, please re-read the first post. I used Sketchup to model the conceptual designs and copied it over to AutoCAD to be machined. At no time have I suggested that sketchup files can be machined (with mills or routers) into models.

Yes, I have said that I used Sketchup to create a model; but that was for a rapid prototype 3D printer.

The workflow as listed in post #3 was for the 3D printer.

So to answer your question in post #6: Forget sketchup for model making.

Lee Roberts
07-08-2009, 12:53 AM
* Moved to CAD/CAM section, OP left in DIY section.

John S
07-08-2009, 11:34 PM
Here you go.
A plug in to go from Sketchup directly into Cambam.



08-08-2009, 01:50 PM
Now there's something I didn't know about!
CAMBAM ... I guess it is free .. I don't see anything on their site with prices or ought.

I'll give that a go for sure:exclaim:

Well done John, :clap: have you used it yourself?


22-01-2010, 08:19 AM
U might want to check out the Phlatscript (http://phlatforum.com/), a plugin designed to workup & export gcode from sketchup, made for the Phlatprinter, a cnc machine designed to cut foam for model aircraft, but may work for u as well.


Phlatforum (http://phlatforum.com/)

04-10-2014, 12:13 PM
Try SketchuCam they have good truing videos and identify how to push your file to G code.

06-10-2014, 03:15 AM
V-Carve Pro and Aspire can now import Sketchup files and create toolpaths from them.

06-10-2014, 03:58 AM
Thank you, there are also some good Extensions available from Phatboyz that generate Gcode

25-08-2018, 05:52 PM
I wanted to stress that Sketchup is a wonderful Proof of Concept tool. Not recommended for model manufacture.

It does seem a problem that such I popular and easy 3D tool would be so troublesome to CNC. Trimble should sort out this mess.