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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3D Printed Cheese and it’s Connection to Elmer’s Glue

 

I’m originally from Wisconsin, so an article about 3D printed cheese was sure to catch my attention!  In this case they’re using the sodium caseinate which is a natural protein/polymer as the medium.  Sodium caseinate is darn near perfect for this as it is a natural glue.  In fact Elmer’s Glue used to be made from it and it’s the reason why there’s a cow on the bottle!  Maybe eating glue back in the day wasn’t so bad for you after all.  Professor Maarten Schutyser from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, says the sodium caseinate has a “liquid feel” but quickly solidifies once extruded from a 3D printer.  Well like all things 3D printing it’s tough to say if this is novelty or the future, but it is great to see old polymer science from Elmer’s become new again.

3D Printed Vegemite?

We’ve talked about 3D printed food before, but this one caught my eye.  My wife and I went to Australia for our honeymoon and of course when you’re down under trying Vegemite is a right of passage of sorts.  Being a paste it’s well suited for extrusion, but what was interesting was how its yeasty salty goodness could create circuits that conduct electricity.  I guess this is also further proof that people will try to 3D print everything eventually…