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Four file formats commonly used in 3D printer | Creality 3D

April 15, 2020

The 3D printer file format acts as the information carrier to encode the appearance, geometry, scene and animation of the 3D model, so that the 3D printer can read the printable 3D model. However, not all 3D printer file formats can transmit a variety of data.


There are four common file formats for 3D printing, namely STL, obj, AMF and 3mf. In this article, we will introduce it briefly and clearly.

1. STL

STL (abbreviation of stereolithography) is a 3D graphics file format developed by 3D systems for rapid prototyping technology in 1988.

STL files are different from some other function-based entity models. STL uses triangle mesh to represent 3D CAD model. It can only describe the geometric information of 3D objects. It does not support information such as color and material. STL is a simplified version of 3D model.

Due to the simplified data and simple format, STL quickly became popular. With the rapid rise of 3D systems, STL has become the de facto data standard of rapid prototyping system. There are two types of STL files: text file (ASCII format) and binary file (binary). On the contrary, ASCII format is more common.

2. OBJ

Obj file is a standard 3D printer file format developed by alias. Wavefront provides a set of workstation based 3D modeling and animation software "advanced visualizer", which is very suitable for data exchange between 3D software models. Obj files are a good choice if you want to transfer 3D models from 3dsmax or lightwave to Maya for rendering or animation.

Obj primarily supports polygon models, but does not support animation, material attributes, mapped paths, dynamics, particles, and other formats.

Due to the convenience of obj format in data exchange, most 3D CAD software currently supports obj format, and most 3D printers also support printing obj 3D printer file format.

3. AMF

As more and more giants enter the 3D printing industry, the fight for data standards becomes more and more important. People who set new standards have the right to speak in the industry. AMF (additional manufacturing file format) is a new data format promoted by ASTM. Because it is based on XML (Extensible Markup Language), it has two advantages: one is that it can be processed by computer, but it can also be understood by human beings; the other is that it can be easily extended by adding labels to labels. In the future, AMF can record individual materials, but can also assign different materials to different parts, and can change the scale of the two materials to model. The internal structure of the model is recorded by digital formula, which can specify the image to be printed on the shape surface and the most effective direction of 3D printing. In addition, you can record raw data, such as the author's name and model name.

4. 3MF

3mf is a new 3D printing format introduced by Microsoft in 2015. Compared with STL format, 3mf file format can describe 3D model more completely. In addition to geometric information, it maintains internal information, colors, materials, textures, and other functions. 3mf is also an extensible XML based data format. For end users, most famous 3D printer brands such as Microsoft, Autodesk, Dassault systems, netfabb, SLM, HP and shapeways can support this file format, so you can easily get as much support as possible.

Sources from: https://creality3dpro.store/blogs/news