El formato STL esta muerto, larga vida al formato 3MF

STL format is dead, is it?

Literally, according to the manufacturer Josef Prusa, this STL file format is dead. And honestly, he is not without reason. There is no validation of triangular surfaces in STL format files, which results in invalid files being generated at any time.

Before continuing, I want to remind you as always that we have a great community in our Telegram channel where to share doubts and experiences. If you wish, you can find us there by clicking on the below link.



A little history

The name of the STL format comes from the English acronym “Standard Triangle Language”. It was created by the 3D Systems company back in 1987, and its objective was to define the geometry of any three-dimensional object completely.

These objects are formed by infinity of triangles without any type of validation, creating a surface and using a Cartesian coordinate system for it.

This situation can cause all kinds of problems when printing our parts. For example, surfaces can be left without any existing triangle (this is called a non-closed part).

Or it may even happen that parts of surfaces are left in the air without any connection to other surfaces. Programs such as Repetier can correct these errors and correct them, but they are completely unnecessary situations, and that do not occur if you are a regular at 3MF format.



The umpteenth war between different formats

The problem, or dilemma, is that the 3D industry has made STL the standard to follow. And yes, it is currently used by most of the companies in the sector.

We are not saying it is bad, in fact it was completely necessary in its context and to this day more than functional.

But it is not something that can ensure its survival. As we all know, the most widespread formats are not always the best and the 3MF has been going strong.

We all remember the great commercial battle of the VHS video format against the Betamax (or Beta) at the end of the 70s. The latter deprecated even offering better quality.

Not so recently something similar happened with the VQF audio format, endorsed by the famous Yamaha company. It tried to defy the MP3 format, with much higher compression and quality levels, and it just disappeared along the way.

However, little by little dozens of companies in the sector are adopting the new 3MF standard, as you can see in it 3MF consortium website .

I have no doubt that the 3MF format will be in a better position, or may even overtake the STL format in a short period of time.


Advantages of the 3MF format over STL

El formato STL esta muerto, larga vida al formato 3MF

The 3MF format was developed as Open Source project by the 3MF Consortium, founded by the well-known company Microsoft. His objective was very clear from the beginning.

Develop a standard based on XML where we can store the complete package of necessary information, something that the STL format cannot offer us at this time.

Characteristics of the 3MF format

These are some of the main features of the 3MF format:

  • It uses .ZIP compression (if we rename it, it can be unzipped easily)
  • Possibility of including more than one single object in the scene
  • Support for printer profiles, manual supports, layer settings, etc.
  • May include color and texture information
  • Improved handling of units (in STL the objects are not proportional)
  • Avoid duplication of identical objects (using references)


Future of the 3MF format

We could predict that the 3MF format has a great future ahead , or at least that’s my opinion. Due to its Open Source nature, it should be adopted by each and every one of the large companies in the sector. And honestly, it can save us a lot of time, especially when it comes to sharing models with other people.

Being able to receive a 3D model with each and every one of the previously configured parameters is priceless. Especially if you are starting in the world of 3D printing.

Do you think that the STL format is really dying? If so, do not hesitate to leave us your opinion at the end of the article, as always.


I hope and hope that this article could have been of interest to you. If you wish, you can find other interesting articles in the following links: