Dec 9, 2015 | By Kira

In May 2015, seven leading companies in the global 3D printing sector launched the 3MF Consortium, a Joint Development Foundation project dedicated to developing and promoting a new, full-fidelity file format for 3D printing. Today, the 3MF Consortium welcomes 3D printer manufacturer Ultimaker to join the likes of 3D Systems, Microsoft, Stratasys, Autodesk and other industry leaders as their newest 3MF Founding Member. The next release of Ultimaker’s Cura 3D printing software will support the 3MF format.

The 3MF format (which stands for 3D Manufacturing Format) was designed to eliminate the current problems associated with existing 'outdated' 3D file formats, such as interoperability and functionality issues across various platforms, services and 3D printers. For example, even one of the most commonly used 3D printing formats, STL, has significant limitations, including being incompatible with color and multiple materials, and poor scalability.

With 3MF, an open source file format, design applications can send full-fidelity 3D models to a mix of other applications, platforms, services and 3D printers seamlessly and, because the format is free to implement, at no extra charge. As the Consortium puts it, their goal is go allow companies to focus on innovation, rather than basic interoperability issues.

In joining the Consortium at the Founding Member level, Ultimaker, a now-global company headquartered in the Netherlands, hopes to contribute to making 3D printing technology more accessible, while encouraging further 3D printing innovation. “Ultimaker strives to evolve 3D printing into a capable, versatile and accessible production technology,” said Siert Wijnia, CTO and founder of Ultimaker. “For this fast-growing industry to create meaningful progress, we need a more modern, future-proof and free format that is still easy to implement.”

There are currently two levels of 3MF Consortium membership available: Founding and Associate. Ultimaker is joining eleven fellow industry leaders in the Founding Members category, including: 3D Systems; Autodesk; Dassault Systemes; FIT AG; Shapeways; Siemends PLM Software; SLM Solutions Group; Stratasys; HP, Materialise; and Microsoft—in fact, it was Microsoft who initiated it all by donating its 3D file format work-in-progress as a starting point.

“Ultimaker’s vision—to make 3D printing accessible to all—is one we share at the 3MF Consortium,” added Adrian Lannin, 3MF’s executive director. “We’re pleased to welcomg Utlimaker and know that its award-wining innovation and experience service both professionals and novices will help strengthen the 3MF specification and its global adoption.”

The first version of the 3MF specification was released on the Consortium’s website back in May, and is available to download free of charge under an open source license. As mentioned above, Ultimaker’s open source, Cura 3D printing software will also soon support the 3MF format. Of course, it may still be a while before 3D designers and 3D print enthusiasts make the switch from long-standing formats, and, despite the industry’s collaborative efforts, may ultimately choose to stay with their trusted .stls, .vrmls, or .objs.



Posted in 3D Design



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