With the fast adoption of 3D printing as a new way of manufacturing across a variety of industries, the need for a uniform file format that can accurately and completely transfer data from a CAD system to a 3D printer became instantly obvious.
The launch of the .3MF file by Microsoft recently is a great next step and important news for the entire 3D design world. It will have large implications in driving the 3D printing industry forward when it comes to the adaption of future technologies and the capabilities arising from it. The large diversity of previous 3D formats have not been able to accomplish such an uniformity.
“.3MF allow companies and designers to concentrate on innovation rather than interoperability issues”
3MF File Format: Overcoming actual Issues and Resolving Interoperability
Modern 3D printers are capable of printing parts that can hardly be described using the existing file formats. The 3MF specification eliminates these problems with currently available formats, such as .STL (too many or too few features), .IGES and STEP (high entrance barriers) and .OBJ (poor manufacturing quality). Finally, the specification overcomes functionality issues and resolves interoperability, enabling companies to focus on innovation in this growing field.
3MF Consortium – A Joint Development Foundation Project
The refreshed .3MF file format – existing for years meanwhile – is supported by various leaders in 3D printing software and hardware, who recently came together in the 3MF Consortium. This new consortium is a joint development foundation project and will initially be made up of seven companies: Microsoft Corporation, Shapeways, Hewlett Packard, Autodesk, netfabb, SLM Solutions and Dassault Systems. The consortium will continue the work to define the 3MF file format and allow 3D models to be sent to other applications, services, platforms, and printers.
“Today Hardware is Ahead of Software: Complexity is Free, Computation not”
Presenting The Future of 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing by Microsoft
For a lot of questions about the new 3MF format, and the grand strategy behind all this, watch the fantastic explanatory talk of Steve and Emmett at the recent Microsoft Build Conference. These 47 minutes capture will show you a lot about the future of 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing.