What File Formats are Used in 3D Printing?

Are you interested in 3D printing, but do not know how exactly it is done? Here is a simple guide on ‘how to 3D print’ for beginners, with help from Paragon Star.

Steps to  Create a 3D Print

3D printing may sound daunting to beginners. However, it is not as difficult as it may appear. You need to follow these simple 4 steps to create a 3D print.

  • Create the 3D model that you want to print, or download it from different sources.
  • Transfer this 3D model into printer instructions.
  • Send the file or instructions to your 3D printer.
  • Start printing the model.

If these steps are difficult for you to perform, then you can get help from different printing service providers. In this case, you will not have to do the technical work involved, as you will just need to send the 3D file to the printing service provider.

Here are the steps to follow, if you want to do a 3D print.

Get the STL file

The STL file format is used commonly for 3D printing. It provides information related to the geometry of the object that you want to print. However, it does not provide any info related to texture, colours, and materials.

Its size depends on the complexity, or different characteristics of the 3D model. The small size range of an STL file is 500 kB to 5 MB. The file size can exceed 200 MB. This format is supported by many 3D tools, which is why it’s considered the most popular 3D printing format.

Slice it into G-code

After getting an STL file for printing, it is time to convert it into printer instructions. Different materials and printers have different instructions. These instructions are called G-code. These are the step by step instructions, and have detail about temperature, speed, etc. You do not need the STL file after converting it into G-code.

The process of converting the STL file into G-code is called slicing. This name is given to the process, because you have to cut the 3D model, so that the printer can deposit its different layers stepwise.

Begin printing

After getting the STL file and G-code, it is time to start printing. For this purpose, you need to give G-code instructions to your printer. The following methods are commonly used to send G-code instructions.

  • Save G-code file in a memory card.
  • Use your computer to control or handle the printer.
  • Get the help of a 3D printer control system.

The first method is considered the easiest and convenient method. Most of the printers that support memory cards also have control and display buttons on them. So, you can use them to select suitable print options. Insert the memory card and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to get started.

You can also connect your printer with a computer to control it better. This is also a convenient method, but you will have to keep your computer on until the printing process is done. If you do not find these methods suitable, then you also have the option to use printer control systems like Raspberry Pi. It is also a feasible method, but it does need initial configuration.