Seeking advice: best CAD file format for multi-colored 3D printed toys?

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What type of CAD file should I use for 3D printing if I want to create multi-colored small sculptures (toys)? I’m unsure if STL is the best format for this purpose. So far, I’ve primarily worked with STL files and would appreciate advice from the community to find the best alternative.

Résolu parAttila Szucs

Hello Steven,

I hope you’re doing well. I understand the nuances involved in selecting the right file type for your projects. It’s great that you’re exploring beyond STL files for creating multi-colored small sculptures.

  • STL files are standard for 3D printing but lack the capability to store color information.
  • For multi-colored prints, you need file formats that can carry color and material data along with geometry.

Key Insights:

  • VRML (.wrl): An older format, VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language), supports color and texture. However, it’s less commonly used today.
  • 3MF (.3mf): A modern alternative that stores detailed information including colors, textures, and print attributes. It’s becoming increasingly popular due to its comprehensive data storage capabilities.
  1. 3MF (.3mf) Files:

    • Supports full color and texture, along with other print-relevant data.
    • Widely supported by modern 3D printing software and services.
    • Example: Perfect for intricate toys with multiple colors and materials.
  2. VRML (.wrl) Files:

    • Can include color and texture but might not be supported by all current 3D printers.
    • Useful for projects where compatibility with older systems is necessary.
    • Example: Suitable for simpler projects that require basic color textures.

In conclusion, I’d recommend starting with 3MF for its advanced capabilities and wider support. However, VRML can be a viable option depending on your specific needs and equipment. If you have any further questions or need clarification, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m here to help make your 3D printing journey as smooth as possible.

Best regards, Attila

    • S

      What type of CAD file should I use for 3D printing if I want to create multi-colored small sculptures (toys)? I’m unsure if STL is the best format for this purpose. So far, I’ve primarily worked with STL files and would appreciate advice from the community to find the best alternative.

      0
    • Xometry Engineer

      Hello Steven,

      I hope you’re doing well. I understand the nuances involved in selecting the right file type for your projects. It’s great that you’re exploring beyond STL files for creating multi-colored small sculptures.

      • STL files are standard for 3D printing but lack the capability to store color information.
      • For multi-colored prints, you need file formats that can carry color and material data along with geometry.

      Key Insights:

      • VRML (.wrl): An older format, VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language), supports color and texture. However, it’s less commonly used today.
      • 3MF (.3mf): A modern alternative that stores detailed information including colors, textures, and print attributes. It’s becoming increasingly popular due to its comprehensive data storage capabilities.
      1. 3MF (.3mf) Files:

        • Supports full color and texture, along with other print-relevant data.
        • Widely supported by modern 3D printing software and services.
        • Example: Perfect for intricate toys with multiple colors and materials.
      2. VRML (.wrl) Files:

        • Can include color and texture but might not be supported by all current 3D printers.
        • Useful for projects where compatibility with older systems is necessary.
        • Example: Suitable for simpler projects that require basic color textures.

      In conclusion, I’d recommend starting with 3MF for its advanced capabilities and wider support. However, VRML can be a viable option depending on your specific needs and equipment. If you have any further questions or need clarification, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m here to help make your 3D printing journey as smooth as possible.

      Best regards, Attila

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      • S
        Attila Szucs

        Thanks for your answer, Attila! Guess that now I need to find out the optimal way to convert my files to 3MF:) If you have some advice here as well, would appreciate a lot

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      • Xometry Engineer
        StevenL

        I’m glad you found the initial information useful. To convert your files to 3MF from STL, the process will generally involve the following steps, depending on the specific software you are using:

        Open your STL file in a 3D modeling software that supports 3MF, such as Microsoft 3D Builder, Autodesk Fusion 360, or similar.

        Check your model for any errors that might affect the printing process. These can be non-manifold errors or issues with normals, which some software can repair automatically.

        Add color information to your model, if your software allows. This can involve applying color to individual faces or vertices, or wrapping the model with a texture.

        Export your model as a 3MF file. Usually, this is as simple as selecting ‘Save As’ or ‘Export’ and choosing 3MF as the file type.

        Validate the 3MF file to ensure it contains all the necessary color information and that there are no errors which might prevent printing.

        Each software will have its own nuances for this process, so I recommend referring to specific tutorials or help sections for the software you choose.

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    • e

      We use mostly 3MF, PLY, OBJ for our Mimaki 3DUJ-2207. They support a wide range of colors and textures.

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      • Xometry Engineer
        eric79

        Hello Eric,

        It’s excellent to hear you’re taking full advantage of the capabilities of the Mimaki 3DUJ-2207. Utilizing 3MF, PLY, and OBJ file formats is indeed a great strategy for achieving high-fidelity prints with a wide colour spectrum and detailed textures. These formats’ ability to retain complex colour information make them ideal for the kind of detailed work I imagine you’re doing. I’d be interested to learn about your experience with the colour fidelity and texture detail when transferring from design files to printed objects, especially with the 3DUJ-2207’s capabilities. Your practical insights would be invaluable, particularly for those in the community considering similar equipment or who are looking to refine their multi-colour 3D printing processes.

        Best,
        Attila

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      • Xometry Engineer
        eric79

        Hey there! Just wanted to let you know that we created a guide recently which has some really cool and helpful tips for working with color 3D printing. Check it out! « Color 3D Printing Design Guide » https://xometry.pro/en-eu/guides/3d-printing-color-design-guide/

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Seeking advice: best CAD file format for multi-colored 3D printed toys?
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