Forthcoming 3D Printing Announcement Set To Revolutionize Industry
April 25, 2015
Today 3DPrint.com reports that a new consortium of companies which was touched on at 3D Print Week in New York including the likes of technology giants HP and Microsoft has formed to seek and foster ways to streamline the 3D printing process for any machine.
As the article reminds us, it was in mid-2013 when Microsoft showed the forethought to add support for 3D printing into Windows 8.1. In the process, however, the company also discovered that the file formats in use were somewhat antiquated. On Thursday of this coming week at Microsoft’s Build Developer Conference there will be a session entitled ”Developing 3D Printing Applications and Services in Windows 10”. It is here in this session that Microsoft reportedly plans to announce a new file format intended for use with 3D printers and printing.
According to the report, Gavin Gear, Senior Program Manager at Microsoft stated, “To empower people, maximize productivity, and unlock the full capabilities of this technology, a new file format is needed. It should align CAD software, 3D printing hardware and software on a more information-rich file format, specifically designed to support the needs of modern 3D printing. The file format must support information interchange throughout the entire 3D printing process, from CAD application to printer. The file format must contain a complete definition of the printed model, in a way that allows unambiguous and accurate processing of the model. Finally, the file format must be practical, simple to understand and easy to implement.”
One of the file formats still in use today is .STL, which is an abbreviation of Stereolithography, a technology that made its debut in the late 1980s with inventor Charles Hull of 3D Systems. An .STL file is, in essence, a triangular representation of the 3D model including each of the XYZ coordinates of the normal and verticals of those triangles, says 3DPrint. With today’s advances in technology and the types of items being created are in many ways more than this file format was intended to ever handle.
As far as the consortium goes, their primary goal will be to create a uniform file format that is intuitive, requires little outside help from other programs, and can accommodate a variety of data including color and surface texture which is beyond what is possible with many .STL files today. Big news is undoubtedly coming, and it will be interesting to see who else gets involved and what they are able to do.
If other companies are to be involved, one would think that MakerBot might be a very good candidate as they are already paired with 3D Systems, and are arguably the most prominent of any 3D companies out there. They have developed an entire network of printers, printing, designers, software, and more which they commonly refer to as the MakerBot Ecosystem.