General Category > Ongoing Anim8or Development

STL export and import: 3D Printing


Anim8or supports STL now so you can directly output 3D-Printable models. In the Object editor you can import and export both ASCII and binary STL files.


I have not yet added code to check for errors in your models, so make sure that they are well formed.

1. There can't be holes in the surface or edges with more that 2 faces. If you select them with the view set to wireframe all edges should be White (in the Point editor), or either White or Blue (in the main Object editor).  Green edges only have one face which means there is a hole in the surface. Magenta edges have more that 2 faces so they is no clear surface, and Red edges have no faces at all.

2. The normals should be facing out. Use the Debug->Options->ShowNormals setting to see them. (You have to disable the new OpenGL code with <Ctrl-N> to do this for the time being.)


STL files are made of independent triangles. Anim8or attempts to fit them all together into a continuous surface. This is not always possible to do correctly when several parts of the model are very close or are touching. In addition many models have small numerical differences between vertices in different triangles that represent the same point. Anim8or does a pretty good job working through these issues but you may have to make some minor edits to some STL models that you import.

Note: This has only minimally been tested, so proceed with caution!

 Its amazing how quickly this '3D printing' is taking off. We now have access to a 3D printer in our area, and being able to save into the appropriate format is like 'having a key to get in'.
  Good move Steve. Nice choice of update ;)

I've printed several models using the binary STL output using two different services and everything worked.

I've found two very inexpensive sites that print in PLA. This is a very light weight, bio-degradable plastic that comes in a number of colors both translucent and opaque. I printed an 87mm (3 3/16") tall model using the Eggplant tutorial model.

1. Art Force Studios is a commercial service. You upload your model and they send you a quote. My quot came in about 30 min. (but I suppose that would depend on what time of day it was). If you accept, you pick the color and they build it and mail it to you. The cost for this model was $7.50 plus $6 shipping. The model was clean of support material. I received the print in 4 days by snail mail. It was packed securely and well padded.

2. MakeXYZ This is a service that connects you with people that have printers in your area. It's mostly a bunch of individuals and a few small shops. There are a variety of materials and prices. I paid $15 for an opaque white PLA build. It was ready in a couple of hours and I met the printer's owner at a nearby Frys parking lot to pick it up. The model had some PLA support material that I had to Exacto-knife and file off but it came out fine. I plan on trying some other materials just to see how they compare in durability, etc.

Very nice! MakeXYZ seems like a cool concept. I'm glad the prices for these things are going down.

I'm gonna have to repair my 3D printer so that I can do this again :)


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