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dorkpunch 01-08-2013 05:32 PM

3D Printers. Who's got one?
Just curious if any of you have experience with the kit built printers. I'm getting ready to buy one for my classroom but am hoping to hear reviews from y'all! Pics, parts made, etc would be awesome too.

I'm pretty settled on the Mendelmax 1.5 I was hoping to get in on the beta testing of the 2.0, but my school budget just won't cut it. As it is, I'm going to have to buy the frame kit now and then wait until the next school year for my new budget to buy all of the electronics.

One of my main questions is how hard, if at all possible, is it to export a model from Sketchup to the printer? What specific software is required?

All right. Lets see your printers!

Anorak 01-08-2013 08:40 PM

JamesG 01-08-2013 09:10 PM


I donno about your Sketch-up question. My experience with exporting drawings across to CAM software and tools has been... frustration. Hopefully what ever controller software you get will have at least a import/conversion wizard, maybe even a rudimentary CAD editor.

I'm :*sip* for anyone who has gone down the DIY printing and associated headaches road to come out of the woodwork and dispense their wisdom.

a1fa 01-08-2013 09:33 PM


slackmeyer 01-08-2013 10:08 PM

I don't know much about the subject except that I use sketchup a fair bit; I'd be surprised if you find any straightforward way to export skp files to something you can print. I think you'd have to start with something like solidworks or vcarve or autocad.
Good luck, I want to see what sort of projects (preassembled air engine?) your class prints out. And I'd be interested if sketchup does play well with 3d printers.

PoundSand 01-08-2013 11:55 PM

SketchUp supports plugins for import / export. You'll need too find what format the 3d printer you're interested in expects, but there are sketchup plugin as for common formats such as stl.

The Other Allan 01-09-2013 01:19 AM

Two weeks ago, I bought SolidWorks Premium. My next step is either a CNC router or a rapid prototyping machine.

emerson.biguns 01-10-2013 06:14 AM


Originally Posted by dorkpunch (Post 20430881)
One of my main questions is how hard, if at all possible, is it to export a model from Sketchup to the printer? What specific software is required?

I am coordinating the 3D printing of a large project that is ultimately for a world entertainment company. It's hard to believe they are doing their architectural 3D modeling sketchup. All of their files have to be sent out to be redrawn in Solidworks so they'll print accurately. (at a large expense....)

My impression is that it's possible to convert SKP files to a format that is accepted by 3D printers, but you're asking for problems. You'd be better off with getting your students to learn an industry standard piece of software such as Solidworks, especially since you can get it for so cheap as an educator.


dorkpunch 01-12-2013 03:37 PM

Been doing a ton of research... Here's what I figured out so far.

Working with a guy on ebay who has a kit with everything but the electronics. Decent price, open to offers, and willing to give educators a discount!

Mendelmax 1.5 kit- $550 / offers, free shipping:!~~60_57.JPG

Other required parts:

NEMA 17 Motors- $48.32 plus $27.95 S&H. So $76.27 total.!~~60_35.JPG

- $54.99 plus $3.75 S&H. So $58.74 total.

RAMPS Electronics
$185 plus $5.78 S&H. So $190.78 total.

30A 12V Power Supply- $29.96 with free S&H.

As far as software goes, it appears there are several different ways to go about exporting from Sketchup, but it is definitely a multi-step process and who knows how the print quality would come out. I'm definitely willing to give it a try! The ebay seller with the Mendelmax kit recommends this:


As far as the sketchup, I use it all the time. Sketchup is great for people getting started in 3D printing. I know many people that design in it. You just download a free STL exporter. So the tool chain goes like this. You design your object with sketchup. Export it as an STL. Open the STL in "Netfabb studio" and hit repair. Netfabb makes the file printable. Then export the fixed STL file. Open your slicing program (I use Slic3r) and slice the STL. Now the file is a GCODE file. Now just open the GCODE in "Pronterface" and hit Print.
I've got Netfabb and Slic3r installed, working on finding an STL exporter for Sketchup and still a little confused about the "Pronterface"- lots of information there...

Also have a request in to get a trial version of Solidworks. I would LOVE to have an "industry standard" CAD program, but even at $150 a seat (can't find an actual price anywhere?) that would cost waayyy to much. Maybe if I bought a couple of seats a year I could make it work, but in the meantime I'm sorta stuck with Sketchup.

I'm also a little concerned about print price, but I think it will be okay. Did some rough calculations and to print a Hot Wheels size model car should theoretically cost between $1 and $3.00 depending on a few different things.

Also, here seems to be an excellent resource for finding sources for filament, troubleshooting code, or just information in general!

dorkpunch 01-12-2013 03:49 PM

All of this in hopes we can turn something like this:

Into an actual printed car.

dorkpunch 01-12-2013 04:25 PM

So in theory, it works... I downloaded and installed a ruby script for exporting Sketchup models as .stl's from Github here:

Took about 2 seconds to download and install. Made up a quick widget:

Exported it as an STL, then opened in Netfabb and clicked "repair"

Saved it, then opened it in Slic3r, and hit export gcode.


Now if only I had a printer to test it out on... :lol3

dorkpunch 01-12-2013 04:34 PM

Whups, one last step. :huh

Finally figured out what "Pronterface" is- downloadable here:

It also appears to have the Slic3r included with the zip file. Anyways, after the gcode is made, you open Pronterface, load the gcode, and, assuming you have a printer plugged in, hit print. I'm betting the options are all shaded out because I don't have a printer plugged in. :deal

Looks like it gives you all kinds of useful info- temps of nozzle and bed, estimated amount of filament used, etc..

dorkpunch 01-22-2013 06:07 PM

I gone an dun it. Spent roughly $1,000 and got all the bits ordered. Sure hope I get reimbursed for this, or my family will be eating Ramen for the next 8 months. :norton

RomaDakota 01-22-2013 06:15 PM

Lurking. I wanna make a chess set!

dorkpunch 01-22-2013 07:26 PM

Well then here's a little food for thought... Here's the cost of stuff so far. I did get a bit of a break on some things because its for a school and its a "Beta" version, but these prices are the actual current list prices.

<table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="760"><colgroup><col style="mso-width-source:userset;mso-width-alt:7680;width:158pt" width="210"> <col style="mso-width-source:userset;mso-width-alt:512;width:11pt" width="14"> <col style="width:48pt" width="64"> <col style="mso-width-source:userset;mso-width-alt:402;width:8pt" width="11"> <col style="mso-width-source:userset;mso-width-alt:16859;width:346pt" width="461"> </colgroup><tbody><tr style="height:15.0pt" height="20"> <td style="height:15.0pt;width:158pt" height="20" width="210">Mendelmax 2.0 </td> <td style="width:11pt" width="14">
</td> <td class="xl65" style="width:48pt" width="64">
</td> <td style="width:8pt" width="11">
</td> <td style="width:346pt" width="461">
</td> </tr> <tr style="height:15.0pt" height="20"> <td style="height:15.0pt" height="20">
</td> <td>
</td> <td class="xl65">
</td> <td>
</td> <td>
</td> </tr> <tr style="height:15.0pt" height="20"> <td style="height:15.0pt" height="20">Kit</td> <td>
</td> <td class="xl65" align="right">$715.00</td> <td>
</td> <td class="xl67"></td> </tr> <tr style="height:15.0pt" height="20"> <td style="height:15.0pt" height="20">Stepper Mtrs & limit sw. (4)</td> <td>
</td> <td class="xl65" align="right">$84.35</td> <td>
</td> <td class="xl67"></td> </tr> <tr style="height:15.0pt" height="20"> <td colspan="2" style="height:15.0pt;mso-ignore:colspan" height="20">Print Controller & Stepper drivers</td> <td class="xl65" align="right">$99.00</td> <td>
</td> <td class="xl67"></td> </tr> <tr style="height:15.0pt" height="20"> <td style="height:15.0pt" height="20">Power Supply</td> <td>
</td> <td class="xl65" align="right">$27.33</td> <td>
</td> <td class="xl67"></td> </tr> <tr style="height:15.0pt" height="20"> <td style="height:15.0pt" height="20">Plastruder (3mm)</td> <td>
</td> <td class="xl65" align="right">$170.00</td> <td>
</td> <td class="xl67"></td> </tr> <tr style="height:15.0pt" height="20"> <td class="xl66" style="height:15.0pt" height="20">TOTAL:</td> <td>
</td> <td class="xl65" align="right">$1,095.68</td> <td>
</td> <td>
</td> </tr> </tbody></table>

Little more info on my blog ( but not much. I plan on posting everything here and there as this project comes together.

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