Earlier this year Microsoft, along with several other large players within the 3D printing industry, announced a complete overhaul of the 3MF 3D file format via the new 3MF Consortium. Then, just 2 weeks ago, the Consortium announced that four new members–which included both 3D printing powerhouses, 3D Systems and Stratasys–joined the initiative. The main argument behind the overhaul and push of the 3MF file format was that the industry is rapidly changing and a format required the ability to adapt to present times.
Apparently London-based MyMiniFactory, a 3D printing model repository and so much more, agrees with the larger corporations which make up the new consortium in that current file formats just are not suited for the future of the industry. Where they may disagree however, is just how the new format should be set up.
Today MyMiniFactory announced The MP5 project. Although one may expect that this project has something to do with music or video, considering the current use of MP3s and MP4s, the MP5 Project has everything to do with 3D printing and 3D modeling.
“We hope it creates a more streamlined and pleasurable 3D printing experience for users as a whole,” Rees Calder, CMO of MyMiniFactory, explained to 3DPrint.com. “We were not satisfied with the current process, be it file formats, slicing, the way printers read g-code etc. We were driven by the current state of affairs, and realized that we live in a time where using the power of the community we do not have to accept the status quo. We can change it! So that’s what we are going to try and do.”
As a part of this initiative MyMiniFactory is calling together developers, mathematicians, designers, makers and manufacturers to contribute to the open source project in a variety of ways. Led by Augustin Sanson, an R&D intern for the company, and supported by IMakr.VC, a fund based in London dedicated to 3D printing, the project will be developed under a General Public License.
While the format could possibly go in several different directions, encompassing everything from design to slicing to 3D printing, the MP5 Project has set forth six specific ideas for file representation that they hope to make grounds one in the months to come. They are:
- Boxels (as in ZBrush)
- Curved facets (easy to implement when you have the normal vectors to each point, as with OBJ)
- Equations (as in Solidworks)
- Fundamental forms, like spheres, cylinders, cubes (as with CSG or B-REP)
- NURBS (as in Rhino or OBJ)
- STL (no one knows, sometimes it could be the best option)
They also aim to divide models into smaller parts (for example legs, arms, body, etc), sort of like ‘objects’ within the .OBJ format. This, according to the project website, would have multiple advantage to other file formats including:
- Possible parallel running algorithms for each part during slicing, decreasing slicing time.
- Different parts of a model could have varying degrees of complexity and detail.
- Duplicated parts only require one set of information meaning files sizes will be smaller and the parts which are the same truly are the same.
The entire project is quite expansive, and it’s probably best that you go directly to the source, located here, for further details. MyMiniFactory clearly understand that they, and the open source community have their work cut out for them.
“We understand the ambition of the project,” they explain. “Moving away from the current broken dreams which rely on off the shelf CAD software and applications that are not 3D Printing focused, to make our vision possible is extremely challenging. With your help we can make this happen.”
Let us know your thoughts on this new possible 3D file format in The MP5 Project forum thread on 3DPB.com.