Although I use SolidWorks for most of my 3D modeling, I still occasionally use SketchUp for creating drawings that will be cut out with a laser cutter. SketchUp is easy to use, and it doesn’t consume as much computer resources as SolidWorks. Below is an example of a drawing in SketchUp that I used to create a layer of Blinky, one of my balancing robots:
I like to create paper models of my robots before I cut parts out of acrylic on the laser cutter. To verify that all the parts will fit together properly, it’s important that the paper models are printed at the exact size of drawings.
To print at actual size in SketchUp, follow these instructions:
- Choose Camera -> Standard Views -> Top to adjust the camera view so that you are looking directly at the face of the drawing you want to print, as shown in the following image:
- Choose Camera -> Parallel Projection to produce a flat drawing with no perspective lines:
- Choose Camera -> Zoom Extents. to make the drawing as large as possible in the window:
- Resize the window to reduce the amount of white space around the drawing. This step is important because when you print, SketchUp will print not just your drawing but all the space around it too. Thus, if your drawing is a one inch square, but the window shows six inches of space on each side of the square, the drawing will be spread across multiple pages when you print.
- Choose File -> Print.
- In the Print option window, uncheck the “Fit to page” and “Use model extents” options. Set both scale values to 1.
- Verify that the “Tiled Sheet Print Range” shows “Pages from: 1 to: 1“. If is says pages from 1 to 2 (or any other number), your print will span multiple pages. If your drawing is larger than the size of the paper, there is no way to avoid the print spanning multiple pages and still print at actual size.
NOTE: The “Page size” does not always match the actual page size. In the previous image, the page width is shown as 3.9202 inches, but my drawing measures exactly 5 inches on the printed page.
- Click OK.
Your drawing should now print on one piece of paper at actual size. If you drawing is still not actual size, it’s possible that your printer might be scaling the print. For example, my Epson ink jet photo printer prints very accurately (as one might expect from a photo printer). However, my HP Officejet all-in-one printer scales printed drawings by about 0.96 in the Y direction.
Please let me know your results using this procedure by leaving a comment below.