3D Printing: Working With 3D STL Files – File Preparation

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If you’re thinking about 3D printing something soon, there’s a certain file format that you should know about before you contact a 3D printing service. This file format is known as a STL file.

3D STL files are the standard format used in 3D printing. They’re used in what’s known as stereolithography, a type of addictive fabrication technology that has defined 3D printing for the past few decades. Since its initial implementation, the STL format has remained a standard format for 3D printing.

So, if you’re planning to prepare a few 3D models for 3D printing, you’ll need several 3D STL to have your objects successfully printed.

If you’re tech savvy, there’s a way to prepare 3D files for 3D printing, turning them into viable 3D STL. In this extended look at 3D STL preparation, we’re going to review and show you how to prepare 3D STL files.

File Preparation

If you’re planning to work with standard STL files, it’s important to prepare them for use in any 3D printing software. Most modern CAD systems are capable of outputting 3D STL in any orientation for different 3D printing systems.

Resolution and File Size

For end users, creating an STL file is as simple as choosing to save the 3D model as an STL (.stl). Besides that, all STL files should be exported as Binary files (rather than ASCII files) to save time and to reduce its total size.

Some options, such as those that tweak the resolution of the file, may change the it‘s composition. Larger 3D STL files also tend to have more triangles placed on the model’s surface. Smaller files with simpler geometry tend to be much smaller.

Those who plan on using their 3D STL for rapid prototyping should ensure their files have a minimum feature thickness at 0.020-anything less and the features on the model will be underdeveloped. Some files may need different thicknesses, however, so be sure to check if it does.

Ideally, a STL file that’s suitable for 3D printing services should be a modest size, including file size, and shouldn’t cause too many complications when delivering the file and having the service prepare the file for printing. Many 3D printing services have guidelines showing prospective customers what to do to prepare their files for printing.

If There Are Errors…

Sometimes, STL develop errors after they’re saved and rendered. These errors often complicate the 3D printing process.

Fortunately, software exists to correct that problem. SpaceClaim Engineer’s STL Prep module helps prepare models for 3D printing. It offers a single solution that efficiently repairs any apparent issues with STL and CAD files, in addition to safely modifying them for later use in a 3D printer.

The module also allows users to take further advantage of intuitive user interface, giving them the ability to efficiently work with any major 3D format today.

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