Aug.23, 2013

Microsoft annouced it was adding in native 3D printer support to Windows 8.1. That means you can 3D print an item directly from third-party applications by click "print".

Today the company gives a lot more information about how 3D printing support in Windows 8.1 works. Microsoft said in a post that there are many different existing data formats related to 3D graphics and 3D models in existence today, but they can not meet the goals for 3D printing support in Windows. For example one problem was that STL is missing important features like color and material support. After evaluating the alternatives, Microsoft decided to develop a new 3D manufacturing based on partner feedback and requests: the 3D Manufacturing Format (3MF).

3MF is an XML-based data format which includes definitions for data related to 3D manufacturing including 3rd party extensibility for custom data. The 3MF format provides a solid foundation for 3D printing support in Windows 8.1, it's a bit like the DNA for 3D manufacturing in Windows. Apps pass 3MF data to Windows, and Windows spools that data out to the 3D printer device drivers. With this data format defined, it became possible to integrate 3D printing support into the OS, using familiar Windows technology.

Basically Microsoft sees 3D printing in Windows 8.1 as an extension of the Windows 2D printing model and would share the same underlying driver model, app interface, and pipeline. The 3D printing sequence in Windows 8.1 looks very similar as how 2D printing works in Windows:

  • The list of available 3D printers is enumerated
  • The user selects the 3D printer to use
  • Print options are selected
  • In the app, the 3D model is converted to 3MF format. The 3MF data is encapsulated in an OpenXPS document package
  • In the 3D print pipeline, 3D printer driver extracts the 3MF package and converts it to a format understood by the printer
  • The data is sent to the 3D printer and printed

Printing from Windows Store Apps is achieved via the Devices Charm on the Charms Bar. Users can then pick which 3D printer to use and specify 3D printing preferences. When the settings are done users can click or tap the "Print" button to begin the 3D printing process.

In addition to building 3D printing support into the operating system, Microsoft has also developed an SDK for developers that includes documentation and sample code for 3D printing drivers and apps.

Watch the video below GavinGear gives an overview of 3D printing support in Windows 8.1 and a demo of printing a 3D object from a Windows Store app to a 3D Systems Cube 2 printer using Windows 8.1 Preview build.

Source: Microsoft

Posted in 3D Software



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Kenos wrote at 8/27/2013 12:52:32 AM:

It's funny that the print shown in the timelapse is totally warped.

jd90 wrote at 8/26/2013 6:28:03 AM:

Simplifying the process that much strikes me as simplifying it too much that fine tuning options go away for the sake of ease of use.

Proteus wrote at 8/23/2013 6:56:52 PM:

I really don't see the point of the new format. Other than to censor...? Wouldn't be surprised.

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