Benefits & Drawbacks of the New 3MF File Format

In recent weeks there has been chatter about the new 3MF file format and what it means for the 3D printing industry. “3MF is a new 3D printing format that will allow design applications to send full-fidelity 3D models to a mix of other applications, platforms, services and printers” (3MF Consortium). The aim of 3MF is to close the design loop, which means that from design to print only a single file is required. Current STL files can be frustrating for designers as they find themselves spending more and more time fixing technology issues, which takes time away from actually developing innovative designs. We asked Collin Kobayashi, President & Chief 3D Officer of 3D Innovations, to weigh in on what he sees as the benefits and drawbacks of 3MF…

The benefits of 3MF…
  • Increased scalability and usage across all software platforms;
  • Will lead to further adoption of ASTM standards;
  • Bridges the gap between multi-platform design programs;
  • Updates the old .STL format which was originally developed when 3D Printing was first introduced over 20 years ago;
  • Creates an open source field for further collaboration between companies and industries;
  • Opens up opportunities for further development and adoption by smaller companies;
  • With the spike in growth in Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing, a new format is needed to keep up with the advancements in this technology;
  • May introduce a new method to print with multi-materials and/or multi-colored format;
  • Potential for smaller sized files with more data.
The drawbacks of 3MF…
  • Needs to be managed by a consortium of companies to avoid monopolization by Microsoft;
  • Skeptics will challenge this new format because of Microsoft’s past products;
  • Still too early to tell, but has many added benefits over current .stl process.

This new file format is revolutionary for the 3D design and printing industry, but as always, time will tell if it has actual sticking power with designers. Please let us know what you think of the new file format and the consortium by leaving a comment on this post.


3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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May 2024

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