3D print service i.Materialise announced they’re now able to accept uploads of no less than 42 different 3D file formats.
That’s a lot. Here’s the list:
Accepted file types for online prices: .3ds, .stl, .igs, .model, .mxp, .obj, .wrl, .3dm, .fbx, .matpart, .zip, .rar, .7s, .skp, .dae, .ply, .magics, .mgx, .x3d, .x3dv and .3MF
Accepted file types for offline prices: .matAMX, .amf, .ndo, .asc, .cli, .slc, .mtt, .mdck, .cls , .f&s, .ssl, .sli, .jt, .prj, .sat, .CATPart, .CATProduct, .dxf , .zcp, .prt and .asm
(They explain “online” vs “offline” as the ability to instantly generate quotes for printing services. Evidently some of the formats have not yet been integrated into their online price generator.)
Virtually all 3D composition software will export in the most common formats for 3D printing, .STL and .OBJ, but apparently there is a demand for using the native formats from 3D software tools. And there are a lot of 3D software tools.
You’ll note that one of the accepted formats is .3MF, the new file format for 3D printing. It contains a number of features that overcome the limitations of .STL and other formats commonly used in 3D printing. This is not surprising as i.Materialise’s parent company, Materialise, is a member of the 3MF consortium dedicated to promoting the new format.
This is good news: .STL, while used almost universally for 3D printing, is really a horrible format. It really, really needs to be replaced.
But that replacement can only occur if a large number of people and companies agree to change many things. Software, data and process must all enable 3MF. While the addition of 3MF in a batch of new input formats may seem to be a small step by i.Materialise, it’s quite important to demonstrate that 3MF has “legs”. The more companies supporting it, the more likely the format will succeed.
At some point, hopefully, we will have enough companies and software packages enabling 3MF that the population of 3D users will begin to use 3MF by default.
Until that time, enjoy your STL files!