Converting your CAD File to .stl – 3D Printing Service

After designing your latest creation in a CAD program you will now want it 3D printed by using a 3D printing service for your 3D printed part or you will use your own in-house 3D printer. The first step is to save the design as a stl file. An stl file prepares the surfaces in the CAD design as a mesh of triangles.

The number and size of the triangles determine how accurately curved surfaces are printed. When exporting to stl you need to look out for the terminology below to make sure that when you send the part to a bureau service for your 3D printed part it is returned without facets. These facets basically are triangles that are too big. Within the CAD software you can control the number and size of the triangles by setting the following parameters when you create the stl file from the CAD design:

Chordal Tolerance / Deviation. This is the maximum distance between the surface of the original design and the tessellated surface of the stl triangle.

Angle Control. The angular deviation allowed between adjacent triangles. This setting enables you to increase tessellation, necessary for surfaces with small radii. (The smaller the radii, the more triangles are needed).

STL File Format. You usually have the option to save stl files in either binary or ASCII format. Binary is preferred as it captures more data resulting in a better 3D print from your local 3D printing service.

You may want check the quality of the stl file prior to having it 3D printed as a design containing holes and gaps affects the quality of the printed 3D part. Therefore, we recommend you should perform a geometry check on the stl file before continuing. Third party software for this purpose attempts to fix the geometry of files that could give you an inferior 3D print. For more information on this please follow this link and scroll down to the free .stl file repair tool section.

Preparing Parts for 3D Printing. The Catalyst software for our Dimension Elite machine and the Objet Studio software for our Objet 30 Polyjet 3D printer contains a full range of tools for preparing parts for 3D printing. The inserted .stl file can be rotated, scaled, copied and arranged as a pack of parts on a virtual build tray for 3D printing. It’s not something you guys have to worry about thou as our skilled operators are trained to a high level on both machines making sure you get your 3D printed parts exactly the way you want them from the UK’s fastest growing 3D Printing Service – 3D Quick Printing.

Thanks for reading folks and now you know how to create the perfect .stl file please stop sending us photos, .PDF’s and bitmaps!

STL sample 2” by KaboldyOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Maximum of 5 files
30MB total combined size
Always include file extension

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