3D-Printing file formats must evolve with the industry

3D-Printing File Formats Must Evolve with the IndustryAs rapid-fire advances enrich the 3D-printing landscape, file formats have to keep pace to support these changes, or there’s a risk of neutralizing further progress.

In the beginning, there was the stereolithography file, commonly called the STL file. Although not very complex—it was essentially a collection of triangles—the STL provided a way to get data into 3D-printing systems. Enough hardware manufacturers used STL for it to become something of an industry standard, providing some much-needed interoperability during the additive-manufacturing industry’s early days.

However, as the industry matured, STL’s various shortcomings came into focus. Since STL files were little more than a giant soup of triangles, they were difficult to work with. If you wanted to edit a face or reposition a part, you’d have to figure out a way to change numerous triangles—a highly inefficient and error-prone process.

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