There are various types of 3D printer file formats, and STL is the most universal one. Therefore, compatibility issues may arise with files and software. We previously discussed how to convert OBJ to STL, and now let's talk about how to convert 3MF to STL through both online and offline methods, including online converters and software, most of which are free and easy to operate.
What Is STL?
STL (Stereolithography) is the most common and widely used file format type in 3D printing, compatible with all slicers and CAD software. STL files are known for their ease of use, easily generated in computer-aided design (CAD) software by creating a 3D mesh through triangles. However, they only describe the geometric surface of the 3D model. STL files are not human-readable and cannot be inspected. Another challenge with STL is more likely to damage. Not every STL file is printable, so users often have to repair it.
What Is 3MF?
3MF (3D Manufacturing Format) is a new file format designed for additive manufacturing, introduced in 2015 by the 3MF Consortium, which includes companies such as Microsoft, HP, Dassault, Autodesk, and others. The creation of 3MF files aims to replace the dominant position of STL and simplify the 3D printing process. This file format is based on XML data, capable of storing huge amounts of information such as colors, textures, printing parameters, designer details, copyright information, and more. Moreover, it can be compressed using ZIP to become more lightweight and reduce file size. 3MF addresses many issues faced by STL, including low quality, inability to store information beyond the geometry of 3D models, larger file sizes, and human unreadability. However, in the 3D printing industry, 3MF does not receive as widespread support as STL.
Why Convert 3MF to STL
The primary reason for converting from 3MF files to STL is to fix compatibility problems. The STL format, developed in 1987, is more established, while 3MF is a new format type introduced in 2015. However, currently, STL files still dominate in 3D printing and are widely supported by almost all 3D printers, 3D slicers, 3D modeling software, and 3D model file websites. In contrast, 3MF, being a new technology, has not received the widespread support enjoyed by STL. Therefore, compatibility is why makers need to convert 3MF to STL. We provide some effective solutions below, ranging from online to offline tools.
How to Convert 3MF to STL
1. Online Converter
Converting 3MF to STL through online services is a quick and free method, particularly suitable for smaller file sizes and you have internet access on your computer. Online tools like FABCONVERT and MICONV, as well as SwiftConverter, are excellent choices, and they also support the conversion of many other file formats.
The process is straightforward, requiring no software downloads. Typically, you just need to upload your file from your local computer to the website, patiently wait for a while, and then download your converted STL file. The usual file size limit is around 75-100MB, so for larger files, software may be needed for the file format conversion.
2. 3D Slicer and 3D Modeling Software
Once you have installed 3D software that supports the 3MF format, it becomes easy to convert it to STL. Whether the software is for slicing or 3D modeling, the steps for converting the file are quite similar. Simply import the .3MF file into the software, then output and save it as a .STL file.
Many free 3D slicers can support opening and slicing the 3MF format, such as:
Similarly, for 3D model design software, options like these are excellent:
- Paint 3D
- 3D Builder
1. What program can open 3MF files?
3MF files can be opened and viewed in various 3D slicers such as Cura, MatterControl, PrusaSlicer, Slic3r, and Simplify3D. Additionally, CAD programs like Autodesk Fusion 360, GrabCad Print, Microsoft 3D Builder, etc., also can read 3MF files.
2. What is the difference between 3MF and STL?
STL and 3MF can both store geometric data, but 3MF is lighter and contains more information, such as color, texture, material, and printing parameter data. Additionally, 3MF is open source, making it more flexible and capable of simplifying 3D printing. However, STL has the advantage of widespread compatibility and ease of use.
3. Should I use 3MF or STL?
It depends on your project requirements. If you only need to quickly create a simple model with basic shapes and no special colors or materials, then STL is enough. Especially if you want to share or sell your design on a 3D model repository, then the STL format is preferred due to its high compatibility.
On the other hand, for more complex projects that demand detailed 3D models, including multiple colors, textures, materials, etc., 3MF is a good choice. It is more professional and flexible for your high-demand projects.
Currently, for 3D printing, STL is the most suitable format, but 3MF may replace STL as the standard format in the future. With the development of technology, 3D printing is expected to be more simplified and user-friendly. Just like the many desktop 3D printers available today that are characterized by ease of use and fast printing. For instance, Anycubic specializes in developing affordable and high-quality 3D printers, offering a series called Kobra 2 series, designed to expedite the 3D printing process. Let's take a glance at them below.
|Kobra 2 Neo
|Kobra 2 Pro
|Kobra 2 Max
|220 x 220 x 250mm (12L)
|220 x 220 x 250mm (12L)
|420 x 420 x 500mm (88L)