The Language of 3D Printing

Are you an STL person or a 3MF person?  Read a great article talking about the two dueling file formats from Make Parts Fast.  STL is the defacto standard, and there’s also OBJ and AMF, but the new kid on the block is 3MF. The the 3MF Consortium is lead by Microsoft and includes people like Autodesk, Siemens, 3D Systems and Stratasys.  The article points out many of the shortcomings of STL:

STL is more than 30 years old. 3D printing technology has advanced and offers features and capabilities that STL was never developed to translate. For example, STL files describe only the surface geometry of a three-dimensional object without any representation of color, texture or other common CAD model attributes. It does not save mesh topology, which can lead to file sizes larger than can be supported by the 3D printer, and it can introduce roundness errors, which will usually result in a 3D print failure.

If you remember Beta versus VHS or Blu-ray vesus HDDVD, usually one format wins out.  Here’s a great comparison article of the different formats.  For widespread consumer adoption the emergence of 1 or at most 2 standards will probably help (think Android and iPhone).  Always fun to see large technology companies line up on different sides and battle it out.

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