We have been getting a lot of questions about our STL importer. The question most asked is "What is an STL, and how do I find/make one?" We've put together an explanation to help those unfamiliar with 3D software to gain some footing.
STL is a common 3D file format. Just as there are many image formats (i.e. Jpeg, PNG, BMP etc.). There are also many 3D formats (i.e. 3DS, LWO, MAX etc.). STL is a free format, meaning it is not tied to any one piece of software. It is primarily used with stereolithography machines, also known as 3D printers. Since this format is free, most 3D programs will export to it, making it the most universal 3D format available. This is useful to our users, since virtually any 3D file type can be converted to a STL.
To locate 3D files to carve, users can Google “3D meshes” or “3D models” and find many sites offering free models. Below are links to just a few favorites we’ve found:
When searching for 3D models, there will be several formats available. Some can be easily converted to an STL with free software such as Meshlab http://meshlab.sourceforge.net/. These formats include, but are not limited to: 3DS, PLY, OBJ, DAE. Other formats require users to have the parent software program in order for those files to be opened or exported into STL. These formats include, but again are not limited to: MAX (3D Studio Max), LWO (Lightwave), SKP (Google SketchUp). For a more complete listing of 3D file types and their parent software, click here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...ts#3D_graphics
To make STL files, there are many software packages available. These range in price from free to several thousands of dollars. For a good listing of 3D software programs and their pricing, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_comp...Major_packages. There are also software packages available to fit every skill level. Just do a little digging and see what makes a good fit for you.
Please feel free to post other suggestions and tips on this thread to help build a resource of 3D knowledge for everyone.