How to make stl files for 3d printing

How to Prepare STL Files | Stratasys Direct

How to Prepare STL files

STL is the standard file type used by most additive manufacturing systems. STL is a triangulated representation of a 3D CAD model. Below you will find instructions on how to convert CAD to STL for many popular platforms. 

The triangulation (or poly count) of a surface will cause faceting of the 3D model. The parameters used for outputting a STL will affect how much faceting occurs (Figures 2 and 3). You cannot build the model smoother than the STL file. If the STL is coarse and faceted the physical 3D printed model will be coarse and faceted as well. However, the smoother/ less faceted your surface is, (the higher the poly count or triangulation) the larger your file. 3D printing can only accept a certain file size; therefore it’s important to find a balance between your model, its desired surface, and the 3D printing process of your choice.

An example of course triangulation. 

An example of fine triangulation.  

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When exporting to STL in your CAD package, you may see parameters for chord height, deviation, angle tolerance, poly count, or something similar. These are the parameters that affect the faceting of the STL. We’ve compiled tips on exporting for the best “surface: file” size ratio below.

Preparing your files

The following step-by-step instructions for converting CAD files to STL came from each CAD software company’s website or from 3D printing and design user forums; it’s an overall simplified step-by-step process from the greater 3D printing community. If your CAD software is not listed below or if you require additional assistance, please contact your CAD software technical support for information about exporting to an STL.

The CAD softwares covered below:

3D Modeling for Beginners

  • Tinkercad
  • SketchUp

3D Modeling for Engineers

  • Autodesk Inventor
  • IronCAD
  • Rhinoceros
  • PTC Creo Parametric
  • Solid Edge
  • SolidWorks
  • NX

3D Modeling for Artists

  • Blender
  • ZBrush
  • Maya

Don't have CAD software? SolidView is an affordable solution for non-CAD users to prepare STL files from many popular CAD formats. Start your free trial today.


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Tinkercad is great for 3D printing simple geometrical objects. Its interface was created with 3D printing in mind.

  1. Design > Download for 3D Printing > .STL



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SketchUp does not offer STL creation directly within the program. Download the extension for .STL here (note: this plugin is open-source and updated frequently).

  1. Download and install the plugin
  2. Select Tools > Export to DXF or STL and select the units for your model (millimeters is recommended)

Tip: SketchUp isn’t inherently built for model production therefore it’s useful to check your SketchUp file for additional feature accuracies once it’s exported from the interface. We recommend uploading your SketchUp file into Meshmixer (a free program from Autodesk) to check your file for faceting and fix any surface flaws.

Note: We don’t recommend Sketchup for use with 3D printing as it does not export well and is best for early design sketches rather than producing physical models.


Autodesk Inventor

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      1. Select IPro > Print > 3D Print Preview
      2. Select Options and choose desired resolution and click OK
      3. Within the preview window, select Save Copy As or Send to 3D Print Service
      4. Save As type to STL File (*. stl)

Note: The “High” setting will also produce the largest file size. From Low, Medium to High, the hairdryer sample file in Inventor went from about 6.7MB to 17.6MB to 50MB.

Tip: Before finalizing your export, select the Options tab. Within this window, you can select the resolution (faceting) for your model (High, Medium, Low and Custom) and check that your units are correct. The “High” setting will produce a large file size. Autodesk Inventor allows you to save both individual parts and assemblies in STL format, at all design levels. For a quick overview of designing in Inventor, click here.
To check your modifiers have been applied before exporting:

  1. Tools > Rebuild All (this ensures that the design data contains recent changes, and that it is not corrupt)
  2. File > Save Copy As > STL (.stl)
  3. Select High and click OK

Note: To change the values associated with each of the resolution settings (High/Medium/Low) you need to edit the Windows registry.



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  1. Select STL command (we recommend setting maximum segmentation to 0.015 mm)
  2. Select the model > Yes > Export

Note: CATIA V5 is capable of creating STL files from CATPart files, but not from assemblies (CATProduct files) or geometrical representations (car files). Therefore, source files, including those saved in a neutral format (i.e. STEP or IGES), must be saved as CATParts. If the source design was saved as an assembly, it is imported to CATIA as a CATProduct. To create an STL file from it, you must first convert it to a multi-bodied part. The procedure described below is one of several methods for doing this.
Saving CATProduct files as CATPart Files for 3D printing:

  1. File Menu > Open > select your source file (assemblies import as CATProduct)
  2. Save the imported CATProduct file
  3. Select File > New > Part > Name the new part
  4. Select one component from your master CATProduct File and copy it
  5. Paste the component in a new part window
  6. Repeat steps and until you have copied all of the components and pasted them as individual parts
  7. Once you have the assembly completely separate into individual components, select File > New Part
  8. Copy each of the individual components from the working files and paste them into the new combined model file (the geometries of all of the parts should retain and align correctly in the combined part)
  9. The new part is now ready to be exported as an STL file
  10. Select Tools > Generate CATPart from Product
  11. Finally, Select File > Salve As > Save as type: STL

Tip: Occasionally some of the components may not align correctly in the combined part because of the way the original assembly was designed. To align parts, select Insert Menu > Constraints Feature.
Before saving the file, it is advisable to review the settings that determine model accuracy and file size. To see these parameters:

  1. Tools > Options
  2. In the Options dialog box, display the Performance tab
  3. Under the General category (on the left), select Display
  4. Review 3D Accuracy settings

Tip: Curves’ accuracy ratio: The higher the setting, the smoother the surface will be when dealing with complex geometries, especially if surfaces contain sudden small changes with small radii (like the bumps on a golf ball).




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  1. Right-click on the part
  2. Click Part Properties > Rendering
  3. Set Facet Surface Smoothing to 150
  4. File > Export
  5. Select .STL

Note: IronCAD can export in many file formats depending on your geometry.
Tip: When working in assembly mode, you must save each of the component parts as individual STL files. The procedures for doing so are described below.
Saving a model design in STL format:

  1. Open the model design in IronCAD.
  2. Right-click on the part and select Part Properties > Part dialog box
  3. Make sure that the Rendering tab is displayed
  4. Change the Surface Smoothness setting to an appropriate value for your model.
    1. If you have not established an appropriate value, try 150. The higher the number, the smoother the model surface will be.
    2. Change the Max Edge Length setting to an appropriate value for your model.
  5. If you have not established an appropriate value, try 0.05. This setting produces good results, but increases file size and may require several minutes to render the model to STL format.
  6. To create smoother model surfaces when designing spherical and torus geometries, select the Triangulated Mesh check box. Selecting this check box results in larger STL files, but may produce smoother curves in models. If the surfaces of the model design are planes, this setting does not improve the results.
  7. Click OK to save the settings and close the dialog box.
  8. File > Export > STL
  9. In the Stereolithography dialog box, make sure PC is selected, and select the Binary Output check box.
  10. Click OK to save the settings and create the STL file.



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  1. Select Object
  2. Mesh > From a NURBS Object
  3. Select Polygon Mesh > Detailed Controls
  4. Maximum aspect ratio: 2.0
  5. Perspective > Rendered View > Observe smoothness and confirm it meets standards
  6. To check that your mesh is uniform: Select the new object mesh > Analyze > Mass Properties > Volume

Rhinoceros 4

  1. File > Save As
  2. Select File Type as STL
  3. Select File Name > Save
  4. Select Binary
  5. Select Detail Controls from Mesh Options
  6. Max angle = 20, Max aspect ratio = 6, Min edge length = 0. 0001
  7. Click OK

Tip: Check your objects geometry and surface in the Object Properties tab to ensure object uniformity.

Rhinoceros Version 3 and Later
Rhinoceros enables extensive control of STL properties when saving designs as STL files. Because Rhinoceros software is surface-based, the complete model design (even if an assembly) is saved as a single STL part.
Saving a model design in STL format

  1. Select Part > File > Export Selected > In the Save As Type box, select Stereolithography (*.stl)
  2. Click Save
  3. In the STL Mesh Export Options dialog box, set the STL tolerance – the maximum distance allowed between the surface of the design and the polygon mesh of the STL file.
    1. If you do not know the other settings appropriate for your model design, try these:
      1. Tolerance: Less than half of the printer’s resolution. For example, the setting shown in the figures above (0.01 mm) is a good setting for printing models at a resolution of 0. 03 mm
      2. Maximum Angle: Default
      3. Maximum Aspect Ratio: Default
      4. Maximum Edge Length: Clear
      5. Maximum Edge Length: Clear
      6. Maximum Initial Grid Quads: Default
      7. Refine Mesh: Check
      8. Pack Textures: Check
      9. Click OK
        • In the STL Export Options dialog box, set the file type as Binary and click OK
          1. Note: If the Export open objects check box is selected, STL files will be created for each of the objects currently open. If this check box is cleared, an STL file is created for the selected object.

Important: STL files are suitable for 3D printing if the models they describe are “watertight”, that is, they do not contain holes or gaps. If an error message appears, click Cancel and fix the model design before saving it as an STL file. Steps for fixing mesh in Rhinoceros are detailed below.

Troubleshooting Model Designs
If a model design contains holes or gaps, it is not suitable for 3D printing. Before saving it as an STL file, you must make it “watertight.”

To close holes and gaps in a model design:

  1. Check your object for errors: Command = Checknewobjects
  2. Surface errors will display
  3. Delete problem surfaces: Command = Selbad
  4. Command: Rebuildedges

Analyze Naked Edges:

  1. Analysis > Show Edges/ Edges Off > Command = Showedges
  2. Select object > Enter
  3. Within dialogue box, select Naked Edges
    1. Highlighted lines are naked edges and must be joined to the rest of your model

Fix Naked Edges
Option 1:

  1. Command = _Mesh
    1. This will create a mesh from the NURBS geometry (save your original NURBS file before doing this)
    2. Command = _Showedges
      1. This will detect naked edges
      2. Command = Fillhole
        • If you cannot find the Fillhole command, open your Tools tab and select Toolbar Layout
        • From the menu, check the box for Bonus Tools
        • The Bonus Tools window will open
        • Select Fill Mesh Hole
          1. If you have trouble, make sure you have the right updates installed

Option 2:

  1. Click the Mesh from Surface/ Polysurface icon from toolbar
  2. Polygon Mesh dialogue box will open
  3. Click Detailed Control > Polygon Mesh Detailed Options dialogue box will open
  4. Enter desired settings > OK
  5. Select entire object
  6. Tools menu > Polygon Mesh > Weld
  7. Command = 180 for angle tolerance
    1. The Weld command will merge adjacent triangle points when 180 angle tolerance is set
  8. Validate the object is watertight
  9. Command = SelNakedMeshEdgePt
    1. If the resulting object contains holes or gaps, the mesh needs fixed
  10. Repeat the Save As procedure


PTC Creo

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3D printing in PolyJet:

  1. File > Print > 3D Print
  2. Define Material
  3. Define STL resolution
    1. Tip: Check your file for printability through the Printability Validation Tab

Retired PTC Creo Formats: Pro/ENGINEER

  1. File > Export > Model
  2. Set type to STL
  3. Set chord height to 0. The field will be replaced by minimum acceptable value
  4. Set Angle Control to 1
  5. Click OK

Exporting your STL file can be done at all levels of design, for both individual parts and assemblies. When dealing with assemblies, you can specify parts of an assembly to either include or exclude from the resulting STL file. Use the procedure below for saving both parts and assemblies as STL files for eventual 3D printing.

To save a Pro/E as an STL file:

  1. Check that the model design is continuous and “watertight”
    1. This step is especially important if the design was imported from a neutral design format because non-continuous bodies are likely to result in defective models
    2. To check for continuity:
      1. View the model with hidden lines displayed.
      2. From the View menu, select Display Setting > Scheme > PreWildfire. The model surfaces are displayed in magenta. If the design is continuous, the contour lines are white. If there are gaps, the lines are yellow.
      3. Fix the model design, if necessary, before saving it as an STL file.
      4. From the File menu, select Save a Copy. The Save a Copy dialog box appears.
      5. From the Type pull-down menu, select STL

Deviation Control
The Deviation Control settings in the Export STL dialog box affect the accuracy of the model and the size of its file.

  1. Open Chord Height (chordal tolerance)
    1. This setting specifies the maximum distance between the surface of the original design and the tessellated surface of the STL triangle (the chord)
    2. Chord height controls the degree of tessellation of the model surface
    3. The smaller the chord height, the less deviation from the actual part surface (but the bigger the file)

Angle Control
This setting regulates how much additional tessellation occurs along surfaces with small radii. The smaller the radii, the more triangles are used. The setting can be between 0 and 1. Unless a higher setting is necessary, to achieve smoother surfaces, 0 is recommended.
Once you have reviewed the above the controls and adjusted your settings, click Apply > OK to create the STL file.
Saving a Pro/E Assembly as an STL File

  1. File > Save a Copy
  2. From the Type pull-down menu, select STL.
  3. Export STL dialog box appears: Specify the parts of the assembly to either include or exclude within the resulting STL file
    1. Example: In the dialog box one of the parts of the assembly (the tire) has been excluded, leaving two parts (the hub and the main wheel) to be exported to the STL file. The design resulting from these settings (when you click OK) is shown on the left.
  4. When you have made all of the required settings, click Apply and OK to create the STL file.


Solid Edge ST6 - ST8

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  1. Application Button > Save As (opens dialog box)
  2. From the Save As drop down menu, select STL documents (*. stl)
  3. Select the Options button from the Save As dialog box
  4. Adjust Conversion Tolerance and Tolerance Units (millimeters recommended)
    1. The lower the conversation tolerance, the finer the tessellation
  5. Adjust the Surface Plane Angle (dependent your desired surface smoothness)
    1. The lower the surface plane angle, the greater the accuracy (noticeable in small details)
      1. As a rule, the finer the tessellation and the greater the accuracy, the larger the size of the STL file, and the longer it takes to generate it
  6. Under Output File as: Check Binary
    1. Binary STL files are much smaller than STL files saved in ASCII format
  7. Click OK > Save

Tip: Review the controls for exporting STL files in Solid Edge here.

Note: Solid Edge is capable of creating individual STL files from the components of an assembly, but this functionality is not built into the program. It is achieved through the application programming interface (API), using Visual Basic scripts. This solution does not enable a visual preview of the polygon mesh before saving the STL files.
Solid Edge (Older than ST6)

  1. Open model and select File > Save As
  2. Save As Type >STL
  3. Options > Conversion Tolerance: 0.0254 mm for FDM; 0.015 mm for PolyJet
  4. Set Surface Plane Angle to 45°
  5. Select Binary type and OK
  6. Name and Save STL file

Note: Solid Edge software from Siemens PLM (formerly USG) supports STL output at the core level, enabling you to save both parts and assemblies as STL files. However, when saving an assembly, all of its components are included in a single STL file.



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  1. File > Save As
  2. Set Save As Type to STL
  3. Options > Resolution > Fine > OK > Save

STL settings: How to change STL settings

  1. File > Save As
  2. STL > Options
  3. For a smoother STL file, change the Resolution to Custom
  4. Change the deviation to 0. 01 mm
  5. Change the angle to 5 (smaller deviations and angles will produce a smoother file, but the file size will get larger)

Tip: Review file export options before you save your file from SolidWorks here.

To save a model or a model assembly in STL Format:

  1. File > Save As (Save As dialog box opens)
  2. From the Save as type drop-down menu select STL (*.stl)
  3. Click Options
  4. The Export Options dialog box will display the file in a tessellated view
  5. File Format selection is STL
  6. In the Export Options dialog box > Output As section select Binary
    1. The resulting file size will be much smaller than a file saved in ASCII format
  7. In the Resolution section, select the appropriate option
    1. If you select Custom, you can manually adjust the Deviation and Angle settings
    2. The Deviation and Angle settings affect the tessellation of non-planar surfaces as follows:
      1. Lower deviation settings result in finer tessellation
      2. Lower angle settings result in greater accuracy, noticeable in small details
        • Note: The higher the resolution, the larger the size of the file, and the longer it takes to generate
  8. For single material builds make sure that the following check box is selected: Save all components of an assembly in a single file
    1. This ensures that all components are saved as a single STL file.
  9. For dual material builds (PolyJet) make sure that the following check box is NOT selected: Save all components of an assembly in a single file
    1. Note: Keep in mind that an assembly with many units will create many individual STL files when the “Save all components of an assembly in a single file” check box is left unchecked
  10. Click OK
  11. In the Save As dialog box, click Save
  12. In the confirmation message, click Yes


NX (Formerly UGS NX)

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NX software from Siemens PLM (formerly USG), supports STL output at the core level, enabling you to save not only entire parts as STL files, but also selected surfaces of a part. This gives you great flexibility when preparing objects for 3D printing. In addition, assembly output enables you to save several components as a single unit while maintaining each component as a separate volume (shell).

  1. File > Export > STL
  2. Rapid Prototyping dialogue box will appear
  3. Output Type: Binary
    1. Binary STL files are much smaller than STL files saved in ASCII format
  4. Triangle Tolerance: 0.015 mm
    1. This is the maximum distance allowed between the surface of the original design and the tessellated surface of the STL triangle, and affects the smoothness of the model surface
  5. Adjacency Tolerance: 0.015 mm
    1. This determines if two adjacent surfaces “attach”. If the distance between the two surfaces is less than this setting, they are considered attached. This setting must be less than the printing resolution. For example, when printing models at a resolution of 30 micrometers (microns), the setting must be no more than 0.03 mm.
  6. Auto Normal Gen: Check box
  7. Normal Display: Check box
  8. Triangle Display: Check box
  9. Click OK
  10. Export Rapid Prototyping dialogue box will appear
  11. Name your file and click OK



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Prior to exporting, ensure your object is uniform by checking that all surfaces/ vertices are connected.

To check your file for uniformity:

  1. Enter Edit Mode, select your object, and press “L” over the mesh
    1. Areas that do not highlight are free-floating. All vertices must be connected for your part to print.
  2. After you’ve confirmed your object is uniform, check for holes in the mesh of your part
  3. Enter Edit Mode, deselect all vertices, and select Non Manifold from the drop down menu or simply hit Shft-Ctrl-Alt-M
  4. Change the units and dimensions of your object
    1. Blender’s default measurement is called a Blender Unit and is equal to one meter
    2. Press “N” to bring up your dimensions tab
    3. Change units from Blender Units to Metric by selecting Properties > Scene Tab
    4. Change units to Metric (preferably millimeter)
    5. Adjust your scale within the dimensions tab to compute with Metrics

Now your file is ready for export.

  1. Select File > Export as .STL (* .stl)

Tip: Modifiers can be applied during export or prior.



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ZBrush provides designers with incredible feature capabilities, however those features equate to thousands of tiny polygons that aren’t always feasible for 3D printing. To ensure your part is producible and that its details resolve as desired, download the Decimation Master Plugin from ZBrush.

The Decimation Master Plugin will allow you to optimize the polygon mesh of your part for printing by specifying a percentage of the poly mesh to preserve for export. It will preserve detail while reducing poly count. For a quick overview of the plugin, including masking to preserve areas where high poly count is critical for your model, click here.

Once you have optimized your part using the above steps, it is ready to export as an STL file.

  1. Download the 3D Print Exporter Plugin from ZBrush
  2. Select the ZPlugin menu
  3. Click 3D Print Exporter
  4. Define and scale your dimensions
  5. Select STL > STL Export
  6. Save



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Maya is a free-form design space not specifically tailored to production, therefore it is especially crucial to check the dimensions and producibility of your design (are the wall thicknesses defined? Are all vertices connected?).

Check features for producibility:

  1. Window > Settings > Preferences >Settings
  2. Change measurement units to millimeters
  3. Review dimensions and scale within the Chanel Box
  4. Finally, open Create > Scene Assembly
  5. Access measurement tools to check all feature sizes and thicknesses

Once you’ve checked your part for producibility, open the Rebuild Surface Options and define the surface density of your part. This will determine the resolution of the final 3D print. Check the design guidelines of your preferred technology to ensure the 3D print process can handle your desired resolution. Design guidelines on each 3D printing technology can be found here.

Now you’re ready to export.

  1. Select File > Export Selection > Export as STL_DCE.

How Do You Make & Create STL Files for 3D Printing – Simple Guide – 3D Printerly

When you are in the field of 3D printing, there are steps you have to follow to be able to actually 3D print your objects. Many steps are done for you but making 3D printer files is one of the most important ones.

This article will show you exactly how 3D printer files are made so read on if you’d like to know.

3D printer files are made by using Computer Aided Model (CAD) software which allows you to create what your model will look like. After your model is complete, you need to ‘slice’ your CAD file in a slicer program, the most popular being Cura. After your model is sliced, it will be ready for 3D printing.

Once you understand the steps of this process and do it for yourself, it all becomes very easy and clear. I will do my best to detail the step-by-step process on how beginners create 3D printer files.

Creating models for 3D printing and learning how to make your own 3D model is a great skill to learn, so let’s get right into it.

  1. Choose & open a CAD program
  2. Create a design or model using the tools in your chosen program
  3. Save & export your completed design to your computer (STL file)
  4. Choose a slicer program – Cura for beginners
  5. Open & ‘Slice’ your file with your desired settings into a G-Code File

Choose & Open a CAD Program

There are many CAD programs out there that can be used to create your model, but some are definitely more tiered towards beginners which is what I’ll focus on in this article.

Also, many higher level programs actually need to be purchased, so you’ll be happy to know everything I recommend will be completely free.

The best CAD programs for beginners are:

  • TinkerCAD – click and create your own account
  • Blender
  • Fusion 360
  • Sketch Up
  • FreeCAD
  • Onshape

Check out my article Best Free 3D Printing Software – CAD, Slicers & More.

The one that I will focus on and do recommend is TinkerCAD for beginners because it was definitely designed for you guys in mind. Beginners don’t want a complicated CAD program that takes a while getting used to, they want to be able to put something together in the first 5 minutes and see its capabilities.

One of the great features of TinkerCAD is the fact that it’s browser-based so you don’t have to install some huge program file to get started. Just go to TinkerCAD, create an account, go through the short tutorial on the platform and get to modeling.

Once you get the hang of one CAD program and the way designing a model works, you can move onto other programs, but at first just stick to one simple program.

TinkerCAD has enough capabilities to keep you modeling there for at least a few months, before you think about moving to a software with more features. For now, it will work wonders!

Create A Design Using the Tools in Your Chosen Program

TinkerCAD specializes in ease of use, as you put together blocks and shapes to gradually build a more complex structure that you can be proud of. The video below will show you a quick tutorial on exactly how it looks and how it’s done.

It’s always best to follow a video tutorial when learning how to create designs, while doing the same thing in the program yourself.

Reading a guide of some sort is great when you understand the program and are looking for ways to do cool, new things but when just starting out, get the experience behind you.

Once you’ve created some of your own models by following a tutorial, a good point to go to next is to play around in the program and get creative. One thing I chose to do is find a few household objects and try to model it as best as I could.

This ranged from cups, bottles, small boxes, vitamin containers, anything really. If you want to get really accurate, you can get a sweet pair of Calipers from Amazon.

If you want a quick, cheap but reliable set I’d recommend the Sangabery Digital Caliper.

It has four measuring modes, two unit conversion & zero setting function. You can get very accurate readings with this device, so I do recommend you getting one if you don’t already. Also comes with two spare batteries!

If you want a higher quality Caliper, go for the Rexbeti Stainless Steel Digital Caliper. It is more premium with a polished finish and a case to hold the device. It comes with IP54 water & dust protection, has 0.02mm accuracy and is great for the long-run.

Once you get some good practice creating different items, you’ll be a lot more prepared to start making useful and complex 3D printer files.

At first, it seems like all these simple shapes and holes won’t be able to make much. This is what I thought at first before seeing what people could really create in this software.

The following was made on TinkerCAD by Delta666 found on MyMiniFactory. It would be hard to describe this as a simple design, which just goes to show you the potential you could have with designing your own 3D printer files.

Save & Export Your Completed Design to Your Computer (STL File)

The great thing about TinkerCAD is how it’s made for things to be easy to use. This also includes saving and exporting your STL files straight to your computer.

Unlike some downloaded CAD software, this one auto-saves your work each change you make so you don’t have to worry about losing your work.

As long as you have named your work in the top left, it should continue to save. You’ll see a small message saying ‘All Changes Saved’ so you know if it’s working.

As you can see in the picture, exporting your CAD files into a downloadable STL file is a piece of cake. Simply click the ‘Export’ button in the top right of your TinkerCAD page and a box will pop up with a few options.

When it comes to 3D printing files, the most common ones we see are the .STL files. There are a few things that people say it’s abbreviated from such as Stereolithography, Standard Triangle Language and Standard Tessellation Language. Either way, we just know it works pretty good!

The complex part behind STL files is that they are made up of several tiny triangles, with more detailed parts having more triangles. The reason behind this is 3D printers can better understand this information with this simple geometric shape.

Below is a clear illustration of these triangles making up a model.

Choose a Slicer Program – Cura for Beginners

If you’re in the 3D printing field, you either would have come across Cura by Ultimaker or are already well-versed in the program. Cura is the most popular, cross-platform slicing software that 3D printer hobbyists use to prepare their files for 3D printing.

There isn’t much point trying to go with another slicer because this one works so well and does exactly what you need it to do. It’s very beginner-friendly and doesn’t take long at all to get the hang of it.

There are other slicer programs out there, some even dedicated to specific 3D printers like PrusaSlicer or ChiTuBox. They all essentially do the same thing but Cura is the choice I recommend.

Check out my article Best Slicer for the Ender 3 (Pro/V2/S1), which also goes for other 3D printers as well.

Open & ‘Slice’ Your File With Your Desired Settings Into a G-Code File

The term ‘slice’ your file is one that is widely used in the 3D printing field which means to prepare your CAD model and turn it into a G-code file which 3D printers can make use of.

G-code is basically a series of commands that tell your 3D printer what to do, from movement, to temperatures, to fan speed.

When you slice your file, there is a certain function where you can preview your model in its 3D printing form. This is where you view each layer of your 3D print from the ground, up and you can even see the direction your print head will go while in the printing process.

It really isn’t as complicated as it looks. All it really takes is looking over the settings and hitting the blue ‘Slice’ button on the bottom right of the program. The box to the top right shows a simplified way to change settings without getting into all the specific settings.

It’s a spice rack in case you’re wondering!

There are many settings in your slicer you can take control of such as:

  • Print speed
  • Nozzle temperature
  • Bed temperature
  • Retraction settings
  • Print order prioritization
  • Cooling fan settings
  • Infill percentage
  • Infill pattern

Now just because it isn’t complicated to get started doesn’t it mean it can’t get as complicated as you’d like it. I’m sure there are settings that Cura experts have never thought about touching.

This really is a short list when you have seen just how many settings there are, but luckily, you don’t have to worry about most of the settings. Cura has default ‘profiles’ which give you a list of already done for you settings that you can input.

This profile usually works great by itself, but it can take a little tweaking on the nozzle & bed temperature before you get some great prints.

There is a cool menu which allows users to choose custom setting views for beginners to masters, down to custom so the functionality and ease of use is great.

After you follow all these steps, you’ll have created your 3D printer file which your printer can understand. Once I’ve sliced a model, I simply get my USB drive and micro SD card which came with my Ender 3, plug it into my laptop and select the ‘Save to Removable Device’ button and Voilà!

I hope these steps were easy to follow and help you get started making your own 3D printer files.

It’s an amazing skill being able to design your own objects from start to finish, so try your best to stick with it and become an expert in the future.

If you found this helpful, I have other similar posts like the 25 Best 3D Printer Upgrades/Improvements You Can Get Done & 8 Ways How to Speed Up Your 3D Printer Without Losing Quality so feel free to check them out and happy printing!

How and where to create a 3D object and save it in an STL file? | My3D

3D printing software is a very broad topic. To describe all existing programs within the framework of one post is not realistic. Therefore, we will only consider the main points and learn about the most necessary software for those people who are going to print on a 3D printer.

The first thing you need for 3D printing is to create a 3D object and save it in an STL file.

The easiest way is to scan an existing object. And here you have 3 options:

  1. You have a 3D scanner - then use the software that came with the kit.
  2. You have Kinect - in this case, the choice of software is huge, a number of paid and free programs for creating three-dimensional scans based on a game controller.
  3. You don't have either the first or the second, but you still want to get a three-dimensional model. – Use your camera and Autodesk 123D Catch.

If you need to create something new on a 3D printer, and not create a copy of an existing one, then first you need to draw a full-fledged three-dimensional model.

And so we move on to an overview of 3D editors.

There are many different 3D editors.
The most popular of them is Autodesk 3Ds Max. The program is extremely functional, in it you can draw anything you like. It is used by designers and engineers around the world. The program is difficult to learn, but it has two significant advantages:

- there are a huge number of free lessons and community on the Internet. You can find the right lesson and learn how to create any object without a long study.

- There is a free license for 3Ds Max. Any student can use it and start building their own 3D objects.

But the program also has a fly in the ointment. 3Ds Max is a surface modeling program that creates hollow objects that are not suitable for 3D printing. If for some reason at least one miniature hole is formed in your object, then the entire model will collapse when built by a 3D printer.

SolidWorks . It is a solid alternative to 3Ds Max. SolidWorks creates 3D objects that are initially filled in. Another plus, the program was originally created for high-precision modeling. With it, you can digitize 2D drawings. To work with the program, it is desirable to have basic knowledge of drawing and descriptive geometry.

3DTin is a simple and intuitive online tool, a great choice for beginners in 3D modeling. All you need is a Chrome or Firefox browser with WebGL enabled. With Russian language support.

Thinkecard - this 3D editor was originally built with an eye on the children's community. This explains its “cartoonish” stylization and selection of ready-made objects. One of the advantages is the fact that it is combined with a gallery of 3D objects, so immediately after the creation of the file you can share it with your friends or the whole world, and they, in turn, can create a copy of any open project and start finalizing it.

Autodesk 123D Design is the best 3D editor for beginners. It is simple and easy to learn.

CraftWare - for beginners to prepare STL files for 3D printing

Sculptris is a virtual sculpting tool with a focus on the concept of model clay. This is a fantastic 3D modeling program if figurines are your main task. For example, you can make a bust of your favorite video game or comic book character.

Blender is a popular computer-aided design (CAD) system with a steep learning curve. One of the most powerful tools in existence. Its community is always ready to help, there are a lot of educational materials. It's also open source, so enthusiasts often write extensions to make it even better and more powerful.

How to export a 3d model to STL format

3D printing is possible only on 3d models in certain formats, often in STL format. We also accept other formats (STP, STEP, IGS, OBJ), but later they are converted to STL. In order to avoid possible errors and (automatic) model changes during conversion, we recommend that you immediately send us the STL format. Below you will find information on how to export/convert your 3d model to STL format in the most popular 3d modeling programs. Please note that your models must be designed in accordance with the requirements of 3D printing modeling.

When selecting from ASCII and Binary .stl, it is recommended to select Binary as the file size will be smaller. As a rule, the size up to 20 MB is more than enough. After exporting, we highly recommend viewing your model in one of the STL viewers such as viewstl, Autodesk 123D Make or 3DViewerOnline to make sure everything was exported correctly.

How to export STL for 3D printing from Autodesk AutoCAD:

Export to STL format is only possible for solid (closed) 3D objects

* Enter DISPSILH on the command line and set the DISPSILH parameter to 1.
* Enter ISOLINES on the command line and set the ISOLINES parameter to 0.
* Enter FACETRES on the command line and set the FACETRES parameter to 10.
* Move the export object to a positive octant (all 3 coordinates: X-Y-Z must be positive).
* Select the export object and enter STLOUT on the command line (For AutoCAD Desktop files - AMSTLOUT). .stl extension.
* Choose a location, enter a name and save the file.

How to export STL for 3D printing from Autodesk 3D Studio MAX:

* First of all you need to merge all normals and make them positive. In the Surface properties column, click Unify and make sure the normals are in the correct position.
* Remove extra vertices. Select all the vertices and from the Edit Mesh menu select Weld.
* Check the model. Run the STL check command from the Modifier list. If the model has errors, it may not export correctly. To check, you need to exit the edit mode.
* File > Export> select file type “StereoLitho [*.STL]”
* Enter file name and save location
* Select Binary file type and save file

How to export STL for 3D printing from Autodesk Inventor:

* File > Save as > Save Copy as
* Select STL
format * Assign a name to the saved file
* Format Binary
* Select inch (inches) or mm (millimeters). The latter is preferred. to avoid confusion
* Select high resolution (Resolution > High)
* Click save button

How to export STL for 3D printing from Blender:

* File> Export > STL
* Assign a name to the saved file
* Select save location
* Click the save button (export STL)

How to export STL for 3D printing from Catia:

* In order to export the entire assembly as a single STL file, you will need to do the following:
* Select entire branch of files
* Tools>Generate CATPart from product
* Assign name
* Merge all volumes of individual files into one volume without checking.
* Click OK
* Accuracy (resolution) of the STL file match the accuracy of the working window settings
* Tools > Options > General > Display
* Select Performance tab
* In the 3D accuracy column, select Fixed
* Set the parameter to 0.02mm (.0008in)
* Set Curve accuracy to 0.2
* File > Save As
* Assign a name to the saved file
* Select STL
format * Click the save button

How to export STL for 3D printing from Google Sketchup:

* Google Sketchup cannot save to STL without installing a special plugin (for example here)
* After installing the extension, the STL format will be supported for both export and import
* Select an object (without selection, the entire model will be exported)
* File > Export > STL
* Assign a name to the saved file
* Click save button

How to export STL for 3D printing from Rhino:

* File > Save As
* Select STL
format * Assign a name to the saved file
* Save
* In the STL Mesh Export Options window, set the Enter Tolerance to 0. 02 mm (0.0008 inch), click OK.
* Select type Binary
* Uncheck Uncheck Export Open Objects
* Ok

How to export STL for 3D printing from Solidworks:

* Tools > Options > Export or File > Save As
* Select STL
format * Open Options
* Select format Binary
* Select a good resolution (Resolution > Fine > Ok)
* Assign a name to the saved file
* Click save button

How to export STL for 3D printing from Solid Edge:

* File > Save As
* Select STL
format * Open Options
* Conversion Tolerance set to 0.0254 mm (0.001 inch)
* Surface Plane Angle set to 45.00
* Save file

How to export STL for 3D printing from Pro Engineer:

* File > Export > Model
* Select STL
format * Set Coordinate System Standard to
* Set Chord Height 0
* Install Angle Control 1
* Save the file

How to export STL for 3D printing from ZBRUSH:

* To convert, you need to install a plugin, for example 3D Print Hub
* After installing the plugin, you need to make sure that your PolyMesh 3D
model * Select model ZPlugin >3D Print Hub
* Click Update Size Ratios, a window will appear with several options for working area sizes, select the one that suits you.

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