STL is a 3D file format. It is used to store uncolored mesh. It was initially developed by 3D Systems. The STL file format is an industry standard that describes 3D models as triangular envelope loops. This is a very durable way to export 3D version of a composite model to external applications or even to Rapid Prototype (RP) machines. The designs can also be exported as an OBJ file containing component colors and are mainly used to represent the radius of the model.

As discussed earlier, STL file format is the most commonly used file format for 3D printing. With the advent of 3D printing, STL is in demand these days as it is a compact and easy file format. The file format only defines the minimum value to produce the 3D model, which makes it easy to use.

Here is why engineering designers prefer STL Mesh Models as their top choice when it comes to technical designing:


  • The STL file describes the listed surfaces of geometric entities. The solid is composed of triangular surfaces consisting of normal and three vertices – depicted by points.
  • Normal is optional and can be used to define inside the mesh. If normal values ​​are not set correctly, they can be calculated using face vertices. If it is not possible to determine the inside of the mesh, it must be repaired.
  • Data can be stored in standard text or binary format, while the latter is used more often because it is more efficient for recording.
  • The Vertex drive is stored without units.

Multiple Software Support

As with other mesh file formats (.OBJ, .WRL, etc.), it is not necessary to run a histology phase that modifies the original network to obtain a printable file. STL Mesh files are also compatible with most 3D modeling software and 3D printers. This format describes the geometry of the surface of the three-dimensional object without showing any color, texture, or other attributes in the model, thus making it less complicated and easier to work with.

These files are usually created by a computer design (CAD) program as the product of the 3D modeling process. Using it with a 3D slicer allows the computer to communicate with the 3D printer hardware. From a modest beginning, the STL file format is now being supported by many other CAD software and is now widely used for rapid prototyping, 3D printing, and computer production.


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