3D Print file extension

File per stampa 3D

What file format should you use for 3D printing?

3D printing is primarily a physical process: you feed in some digital files and get a physical result. But what file format do you need, and how can you get files that are understandable to 3D printers? If you have ever used a desktop-published

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OBJ graphics editing program, you probably know the basics of file formats. However, there are some nuances specific to working with 3D printing technology. We will discuss the different file types and the programs that can help you create them.

The most common file format is OBJ. It was invented before the World Wide Web even existed, which explains why it has little in common with HTML. OBJ files do not contain any information other than the geometry of 3D objects. If you want to save images or other textual data, use plain text format. For the most part, OBJ is used for CAD software, which has a reputation for being rather complicated. In terms of file size, OBJ is not the most compact format. However, it is currently widely used in 3D printing due to the many CAD programmes supporting it. Remember that if you are designing your product in a CAD format and need to send it to a company that uses a different programme, you may have to export the file to OBJ first.


Short for Standard Tessellation Language, STL is an established 3D printing file format. It was invented in 1987 and has been widely used ever since. In principle, STL is similar to OBJ: a purely geometric file type. However, since it was developed at the dawn of the Internet, it has advantages over OBJ. For example, STL files can contain the geometry of 3D objects and their textures. Another advantage is their compactness: STL files can be almost one-tenth the size of OBJ files. Due to their compactness, STLs are also widely used for saving images. Other file types have more descriptive names and more information. However, if you only have to choose one file type, you might as well select STL.


If you have ever worked with VRML, you will remember its cryptic name: Virtual Reality Modeling Language. This file type, invented in the late 1990s, once enjoyed considerable popularity. Today, VRML is used less and less. Its primary disadvantage is that most 3D modelling software does not support it. However, if you are dealing with VRML files, the best thing to do is to know how to convert them to STL.


COLLADA stands for Common Laboratory Data Application. This file type is incredibly versatile: COLLADA can store almost any data type, from geometric descriptions to images and sounds. However, for 3D printing, COLLADA can only store geometry. You can place images, sounds and other data in separate files, but the CAD software cannot read them. COLLADA is a highly recommended file type, standardised and supported by numerous CAD programmes.


If you design both models for 3D printing and virtual reality (VR) scenes, you might consider the 3MF format. It is a universal file type used in both CAD and VR software. 3MF stands for Three-dimensional Manufacturing Format and was developed specifically for producing physical objects. Designers can exchange their work more efficiently using the same file type for VR and 3D printing.


If you must create a CAD drawing of a mechanical part, you will probably have to use the DXF file type. This is one of the few text-based file types that can be used to create 3D models. DXF stands for Drawing Exchange Format. DXF is mainly used for 2D CAD drawings of mechanical parts. To make a 3D CAD model, use one of the file types described above.


The critical point is to use the correct file type correctly. To achieve the best result, you must first decide whether you need a 2D or 3D model and whether it is static or animated. Then, please choose the appropriate file type and ensure it is readable by the person you send it to. Most file types can be converted automatically if both parties use modern software. Once the digital file is ready, you can send it to a 3D printer or transfer it to the computer-controlled machine for finishing. Remember that physical and digital data go hand in hand during the creation process. Sooner or later, you must create a file that some hardware can read. Now you know what types of files can help you do this.

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