May 1, 2015 | By Lilian

Microsoft kicked off its Build Conference 2015 on Thursday in San Francisco, CA. After a day and half of sessions, seven leading companies in the global 3D printing sector launched the 3MF Consortium.

The 3MF Consortium, comprising Dassault Systèmes S.A.; FIT AG/netfabb GmbH; Microsoft Corporation; HP; Shapeways, Inc.; SLM Solutions Group AG; and Autodesk Inc, is releasing the 3D Manufacturing Format (3MF) specification, which allows design applications to send full-fidelity 3D models to a mix of other applications, platforms, services and printers. The first version of the specification is available now on the 3MF Consortium's website. It is available free of charge under an open source license.

According to their release, the 3MF specification eliminates the problems associated with currently available file formats, such as STL(designed in 1989) and resolves interoperability and functionality issues, enabling companies to focus on productivity and effectiveness in this growing field.

Computer systems so far had to support a multitude of file formats for 3D models in order to communicate with 3D printers. But none of those formats had acceptable capabilities to manage color and material specifications or more complex additive manufacturing jobs under Windows. Microsoft said that the 3MF format is designed to be a 3D printing format with the complete model information contained within a single archive: mesh, textures, materials, colors and print ticket.

"3MF is a file format that makes it possible to File->Print from an app to any supported 3D Printer on Windows. It is a file format specifically tailored for 3D Printing and Windows. 3MF supports colors, textures, scale, a print ticket containing recommended print options, and many other improvements. We believe 3MF is a step forward for the industry and ready for the next generation of 3D Printers." says Microsoft.

"The 3MF specification will empower people, maximize productivity, and unlock the full capabilities of 3D printing," said Adrian Lannin, executive director, 3MF Consortium.

"3MF will align CAD software and 3D printing hardware and software in a more information-rich file format, specifically designed to support the needs of modern 3D printing throughout the entire printing process."

Alex Oster, CEO of netfabb GmbH, and Chairman of the Technical Working Group of the 3MF Consortium, said the consortium expected to launch several new important additions to this standard before the year ends.

According to the statement, the 3MF Consortium's mission is to deliver a 3D printing file format that is:

  • Rich enough to fully describe a model, retaining internal information, color, and other characteristics;
  • Extensible so that it supports new innovations in 3D printing;
  • Interoperable and open;
  • Practical, simple to understand and easy to implement; and
  • Free of the issues inherent in other widely used file formats.

Given the significant interest in solving the file format problem as soon as possible, Microsoft determined that it could best help deliver an open solution through collaboration with the industry, thus benefiting all parties involved. Accordingly, Microsoft contributed to the consortium its existing specification under development known as 3MF (for 3D Manufacturing Format). The 3MF Consortium now manages the further development and distribution of the 3MF specification. 3MF members have agreed make their necessary patent claims available for implementations of the 3MF Core Specification and 3MF Materials Specification on a royalty-free basis.

With the announcement of .3MF, Microsoft also announced that Printrbot's new Metal Simple 3D Printer would be using the new Microsoft .3mf format for plug and play capabilities.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Technology

 

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Sucubo wrote at 8/16/2015 7:03:53 PM:

wooow...they claim having 1 billon possible clients and now the are domminant in 3d printers?

carl razan wrote at 5/14/2015 6:03:18 AM:

Ok, I read the spec, and it stores individual mesh vertices with XML tags. And, this is justify as follows: "The variable-precision nature of ASCII encoding is a significant advantage over fixed-width binary formats, and helps make up the difference in storage efficiency." Anyone doing web standards knows that XML tags can eat up >60% of storage space. Just look at the above example and count the bytes used for xml tags vs useful data. And it requires more CPU time to parse. In addition, storing digits in variable-width ASCII is still longer in bytes than fixed-width double precision.. Since its open source, I make a call for consumers and users to openly reject the current 3MF spec until they fix this particular aspect. At least modify the public spec to include a binary format section for vertex / normal / index streaming.

carl razan wrote at 5/14/2015 6:02:46 AM:

Ok, I read the spec, and it stores individual mesh vertices with XML tags. And, this is justify as follows: "The variable-precision nature of ASCII encoding is a significant advantage over fixed-width binary formats, and helps make up the difference in storage efficiency." Anyone doing web standards knows that XML tags can eat up >60% of storage space. Just look at the above example and count the bytes used for xml tags vs useful data. And it requires more CPU time to parse. In addition, storing digits in variable-width ASCII is still longer in bytes than fixed-width double precision.. Since its open source, I make a call for consumers and users to openly reject the current 3MF spec until they fix this particular aspect. At least modify the public spec to include a binary format section for vertex / normal / index streaming.

serge wrote at 5/4/2015 9:06:41 PM:

who is microsoft ? it's absolutely unknown in 3d printing world.

Stallman wrote at 5/2/2015 9:10:47 AM:

So it's basically the AMF format except harder to implement and with much less capabilities. Oh and DRM, that too. 3d printing shouldn't have DRM.

RMS wrote at 5/2/2015 9:10:08 AM:

So it's basically the AMF format except harder to implement and with much less capabilities. Oh and DRM, that too. 3d printing shouldn't have DRM.

RMS wrote at 5/1/2015 9:08:02 PM:

It's just like AMF, except it's much harder to implement and has a lot less capability. Oh and DRM, it has concessions for DRM. Additive manufacturing should not have DRM.

The truth will out. wrote at 5/1/2015 1:02:17 PM:

Until they include someone from the reprap community to balance out the overwhelming commercial influence. This is a joke.



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