Feb 2, 2017 | By Baha Abunojaim, CTO, Mixed Dimensions

Many people in the 3D printing community have issues getting 3D files to print. Converting .OBJ, .DXF, .3DS, .DAE, and other popular CAD or 3D modelling files to STL and 3MF can be problematic. Additionally 3D printing often lays bare file errors such as nonmanifold issues, flipped vertices (also called flipped faces or flipped triangles), holes in the mesh and intersecting objects. Meshes for 3D printing need to be watertight and manifold.

A before and after comparison of a STL file fix done with MakePrintable

There are a number of ways through which users can fix files for 3D printing. With experience and time many errors can be fixed from within the CAD or 3D modeling application manually. There are also a number of automatic STL and 3MF file fixing tools. These tools use simple algorithms to fix issues individually or use complex algorithms and significant computing power to reconstruct the entire geometry of your file. Materialise’s Magics software or Autodesk Netfabb are examples of commercially available STL file fixing tools. A free cloud based STL and 3MF file fixing alternative to Magics and Netfabb is MakePrintable by Mixed Dimensions.

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Comparison with a competing solution from a large software vendor that fixes holes but does not reconstruct the entire mesh drastically reducing the 3MF file’s detail.

MakePrintable is an online STL and 3MF file fixing tool for 3D printing that automatically reconstructs the entire mesh and repairs any errors in your file. It does this by deploying a high number of optimized servers to in a patent pending way reconstruct the file depending on the type of file it is, its scale and the issues found in it. This unique technology means that MakePrintable works very differently from other STL and 3MF file fixers such as Netfabb and Magics. Furthermore by deploying the fixing solution across a high number of distributed GPU’s MakePrintable uses much much more computing power than a high end desktop system could use. By doing this in an intelligent way MakePrintable can fix faster than other solutions healing a file in less than a minute. Uniquely, complex or difficult models with a high number of polygons can also be fixed on MakePrintable whereas they would grind other servers or individual systems to a halt using comparable tools. This is why MakePrintable now fixes an industry leading 96% of all files thrown at it and why MakePrintable has been growing by over 50% per month for the past year with an approval rating of 91% from its users.

How to use MakePrintable to Repair and fix STL and 3MF files?

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First you make a free account which will let you repair 3 (STL, 3MF, OBJ, .DXF etc.) files a month for free.

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You can orient your file and examine it, yellow indicated problem areas such as nonmanifolds.

The file will be analyzed and displayed for you. If MakePrintable thinks that the model is too small you will get a warning indicating this. Any Green areas are fine. A yellow color will show errors in your file.

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The volume, triangle count and vertex count of your STL file are displayed in the dialog box.

The dialog box will show you useful information such as how many boundary edges your model has, how many non-manifold edges it has, how large the model is and how many triangles it has.

You can select a High quality fix if you wish to wait a bit longer. Or select Prototype if you want a quick fix.

If your file has too many polygons and is very large you can reduce the number of polygons in your input file. This is handy if you need to send the file to others for example.

You can reduce the number of polygons in both your input and output file.

You can also reduce the number of polygons in your output file. This is handy if you have a very detailed STL or full color texture which will lose much of its information during the print.


MakePrintable also has hollowing. This feature lets you reduce the time and material of your 3D print if you are using a desktop 3D printer. If you are using a 3D printing service or industrial Additive Manufacturing system hollowing can reduce costs as well. Exit holes for excess powder are added for powder bed fusion systems (Selective Laser Sintering, Laser Sintering, SLS) so excess powder can be depowdered. Different technologies have different wall thicknesses and with MakePritable you can automatically adjust the wall thickness of a model to make it print, save money or improve the object.

You can reposition your model or scale it to change its size.

You can also view all sides of your model. Or you could reposition, scale, rotate or move your model.

Now you can press repair to repair the file. You don’t have to wait around for the file to be repaired. You can go on being productive and will be sent an email once it is done (You can also turn off these notifications should you wish).

This side by side comparison of a repaired file with the original lets you see what has been changed to your model.

Once your CAD or 3D modeling file has been repaired, the repaired file will be shown side by side the original. You can compare the volume of the file, the number of triangles, the number of vertices and the dimensions of the file.

If you wish to store your repaired file you can store it either as a 3D model, SVG or directly in Gcode.

If you choose to download the file as a 3D model you can pick .obj, .STL or .3mf as your output type.

You can then directly download the file to your computer or export it to Google Drive or storage service Box.

You can export to a sliced SVG file for DLP or SLA 3D printers

If you pick SVG slicing then the 3D Model will be sliced into an SVG file. This is an option for people who have DLP 3D Printers such as Envisiontec systems or SLA (stereolithography) systems.

Directly add the Gcode settings to get the right Gcode for your print or 3D printer.

If you would like to have the Gcode you can submit your Gcode settings and obtain the Gcode directly (You can also store these). You can enter the layer height, fill density, fill angle, fill pattern, raft, travel speed and other parameters to get your Gcode. This is a faster way to obtain Gcode and is popular with FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling, FFF) or similar 3D printers.

3D print via a service.

If you’d like to 3D print the file through a service you can directly upload it to i.materialise, Shapeways or 3D Printing service 3DHubs. Or you could repair your STLs directly in Thingiverse using MakePrintable.

You can store a 3D model online or store a 24 bit encrypted version of the file temporarily for a day.

Models can also be stored in your MyModels directory. You can even select secure mode when uploading a model. The model will then be encrypted and deleted automatically after 24 hours.

Import files directly from Blender or SketchUp.

If you use Blender or Sketchup we have plugins to easily let you upload and import your Blender or Sketchup files for 3D Printing. Here is a guide on how to use our Blender Add on for mesh repair.

Is MakePrintable the fast free online file repair solution for your STL, 3MF and Gcode? You can try out repairing your meshes here.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Apps

 

 

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