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3MF Consortium Releases New 3D Printing File Format

Seven leading companies in the global 3D printing sector launched the 3MF Consortium. The new group is releasing the 3D Manufacturing Format (3MF) specification, which allows design applications to send full-fidelity 3D models to a mix of other applications, platforms, services and printers. The first version of the specification is available now for download at no charge.

Founding members of the 3MF Consortium are: Dassault Systèmes S.A.; FIT AG/netfabb GmbH; Microsoft Corporation; HP; Shapeways, Inc.; SLM Solutions Group AG; and Autodesk Inc.

Modern 3D printers, even low-cost devices, are capable of printing items that are difficult to describe using existing formats. The 3MF specification eliminates the problems associated with currently available file formats, such as STL, which was designed in 1989. It resolves interoperability and functionality issues, enabling companies to focus on innovation in this growing field.

“The 3MF specification will empower people, maximize productivity, and unlock the full capabilities of 3D printing,” said Adrian Lannin, executive director, 3MF Consortium. “3MF will align CAD software and 3D printing hardware and software in a more information-rich file format, specifically designed to support the needs of modern 3D printing throughout the entire printing process. I look forward to the collaboration between the members as we work to accomplish this important goal.”

“The first version of the file standard of 3MF Consortium is published,” said Alex Oster, CEO of netfabb GmbH, and Chairman of the Technical Working Group of the 3MF Consortium. “I would like to thank my colleagues from the founding companies for their time and dedication to get this done. The technical working group is expecting to launch several new important additions to this standard before the year ends. I am looking forward to contributing to this exciting work.”

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The 3MF Consortium’s mission is to deliver a 3D printing file format that is:

  • Rich enough to fully describe a model, retaining internal information, color, and other characteristics;
  • Extensible so that it supports new innovations in 3D printing;
  • Interoperable and open;
  • Practical, simple to understand and easy to implement; and
  • Free of the issues inherent in other widely used file formats.

The effort began with a discussion among industry leaders regarding how best to enable their products to work well together. The group determined that the best approach would be to create a new 3D file format and support it through a collaborative effort with broad industry involvement. Accordingly, Microsoft donated its 3D file format work-in-progress as the starting point for the 3MF Consortium’s further development of the specification.

The 3MF Consortium is a Joint Development Foundation project. The Joint Development Foundation is an independent non-profit organization that provides the corporate and legal infrastructure to enable groups to establish and operate standards and source code development collaborations.