As you read, there are numerous people around the world unpacking new 3D printers right now. Whether at the desktop for the home, office, or workshop, or an industrial machine for a big operation in the automotive or aerospace sectors, magic of all kinds is ready to spring from that new hardware. For the newest users—and still many at the pro level—considering all that one can do creatively is nearly unfathomable, not to mention the long list of true benefits everyone enjoys via this technology, whether as a hobbyist, medical researcher, or manufacturer.
While many are still blissfully riding the wave of euphoria and mastering the art of digital design, others around the world are already heavily invested in the serious business of refining this still fairly new technology. And for every 3D innovation that comes along today, it seems someone somewhere else is perched on the edge of their seat, ready to offer an improvement. With new features and releases rolling out continually for 3D printing hardware and design software, not to mention the entire maker community pumping out endless open source designs that anyone can take and put their own spin on, there’s a very busy parallel world populated with brilliant minds working on making everything better, better, better.
And while it might not sound as glamorous as many other things we hear about in the midst of today’s constant creative revolution, some of technology’s finest minds are also at work refining the world of 3D files and offering up a new level of standardization for the world.
You might just be getting used to the basic and ubiquitous STL file introduced to the world with 3D printing, but there’s a new kid in town—and he has the support of companies like Microsoft, GE Global Research, Stratasys, 3D Systems, and many more behind him over at the 3MF Consortium, where their goal is put the focus on innovation and let the designers design, rather than spending valuable time finding solutions to interoperability issues.
The 3MF file format is meant to take over for the STL file eventually, it would seem, filling in the gaps where it caused issues and constraints due to its basic nature, containing only surface mesh information and the model’s basic geometry. The 3MF file format resolves issues like data being lost in translation through other applications, allowing ‘full-fidelity 3D models’ to be sent to other platforms in its human-readable compressed XML format that includes all the necessary data definitions that may be lost with the STL file. According to the Consortium, this includes third-party extensibility for custom data.
We’ve been following the progress of the 3MF Consortium since its inception, founded by Microsoft early last year. This has been a steady journey too. From members with big names rivaling that of founder Microsoft, to new startups, the Consortium now possesses a great deal of cumulative experience within, including the recent announcement that they are bringing on ASTM International for further coordination of standards and to see that the 3D printing community soon has access to this new file format.
Now Datakit, a CAD data exchange software vendor headquartered in Lyon, France, is getting involved in the 3MF file format business too, developing a library to write 3MF files. As this new standard is about to becoming much more mainstream, allowing for definition of expanded data like color and materials, Datakit is promoting their standalone converter, CrossManager. This will give users an easy way to make files compatible with most 3D printers.
Datakit’s 3MF writing is also being integrated into CrossCad/Ware with its development kit easily embedded into other vendor applications. This is going to become very important as desire for the 3MF format grows among the public. CAD software vendors will be able to offer seamless 3MF export functionality.
Datakit also supports the usual formats such as .stl, .obj, along with COLLADA (.dae) and VRML. While the 3MF format is going to be a hot topic and at the forefront for those concerned with compatibility, Datakit points out that with CrossCad/Ware, manufacturers and software vendors will be able to benefit greatly in terms of being able to import most CAD file formats.
Founded in 1994, Datakit specializes in CAD data exchange solutions and services, offering standalone converters, plug-ins, and software development kits all geared toward seamless exporting of important data. They help customers choose the appropriate data transfer solution systems for their particular requirements, as well as working closely with independent software vendors. They support a comprehensive list of file formats and offer a range of capabilities for vendors. Discuss this preparation for the new standard over in the Datakit Writes Library for New 3D Standard Format 3MF at 3DPB.com.[Source: TenLinks]