We haven’t written much on 3MF for quite some time now, but there is some news: EOS has joined the consortium.
The 3MF Consortium is an organization dedicated to producing practical, full function file formats specifically for advanced 3D printing applications.
They exist because of the numerous deficiencies in the defacto standard file format, STL. STL is simply a digital representation of a collection of triangles that form the skin of a 3D object. One of the more pernicious issues with STL is that the triangles may not completely envelope the object, leading to an ambitious 3D model. There are many other issues as well.
No one really likes STL, but it is commonly used because it’s the only practical format that’s accepted more or less universally.
The 3MF Consortium intends on developing connectivity standards well beyond mere STL that can accommodate new features of 3D printing, particularly in manufacturing. They’ve released a number of specifications that are gradually being accepted.
And that is what standards are all about. Anyone can announce a standard, but it is really not a true standard until the majority of participants actively use it. The key is to get a commitment from as many participants as possible to achieve a tipping point where it becomes a standard in the minds of everyone.
So far the 3MF Consortium has attracted a number of large players in the 3D print industry to their membership, including 3D Systems and Stratasys, as well as other interested parties such as Microsoft and Siemens.
Now it’s announced that EOS, one of the major manufacturers of production 3D metal printing equipment, has also joined 3MF. There are now several 3D metal printer manufacturers on board with 3MF, including:
- 3D Systems
- Additive Industries
- SLM Solutions
- GE (representing Arcam and Concept Laser)
This is good news for 3MF, particularly in the manufacturing segment, where 3D metal printing is becoming an important function. It seems that almost all of the major 3D metal printer manufacturers are now “in” on 3MF, meaning there should be critical mass to provoke changes in software to incorporate 3MF.
I’ve seen 3MF appear here and there in 3D software, but it is by no means a defecto standard yet. But that seems to be more likely with this announcement.
Via 3MF Consortium