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Which file extension can be used for 3D printing

Which file extension can be used for 3D printing

There are many file extensions and formats. Some contain information about the shape, movements, lichting, color and more. But which file formats are usable for 3D printing?

The file extensions which we prefer are .STL, .STEP and .OBJ.
A difference can be made between CAD files, Vector files, and Mesh files.


CAD files

A 3D shape can be made in the computer in many different programs. This modelling can for example be done in Fusion 360 from Autodesk. When this Program saves the file, it wil be saved in a format that can only be red by the same program (.f3d). In order to import the same file in other programs, it needs to be exported. If you have one of the folowing file formats, or a cad programm file, you need to have the CAD program in order to use it for 3D printing.

  • .f3d Autodesk Fusion
  • .sldrpt Solidworks (prt stand for part is only 1 part)
  • .sldrasm Solidworks (asm stands for assembly and can contain multiple parts)
  • There are many more file extensions of CAD programms.

Vector files

A vector file has a infinite high quality, just like a CAD file. A circle is defined by its middle point and radius and won’t look like seperate pixels when zoomed in. The advantage is that these files are quite small, and that there is no loss in qualitys. many CAD programmas can export to these vector based files, however when saved, it is almost impossible to import it into a cad program and continue to work on it easily. Unfortunately most 3D printer software programs, cannot handle vector files, and they first need to be transfered to a Mesh file.

  • .STEP
  • .FBX

Mesh files

Mesh file saves a 3D shape in many small triangles in 3 coordinates. The file has a finit resolution, and when badly saved, the quality can be quite low. With a high resolution the file can be quite big. Basically any CAD programm can save to a generic Mesh file like .STL. It is however generally NOT possible to import these mesh files into a CAD programm and easily adjust things inside the model. You would need the original CAD file in order to do so.

  • .STL This is the most used 3D Mesh file format.
  • .OBJ

If you didn’t found what you were looking for, just contact us for the possibilities and w’re happy to help!

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