5 Impressive Facts of 3D Printing STL File Format

STL files, which are otherwise known as Sterolisthic files, have become synonymous with the 3D printing industry ages ago. STL, which also stands for "Standard Triangle Language", is one of the most common file formats of 3D printer models.

The 3D printing industry has witnessed a strong growth rate for the last 3 years. We know that you are already familiar with the term "STL file format," but you probably didn't know some of its amazing facts till now.

In this article, we have discussed about the 5 amazing facts that you probably didn't know about STL files before.

What is STL file?

STL file is a three-dimensional model of a digital object, which prepares it for printing when used with the right software and rendering program.

The STL format was originally developed back in 1987 by the Albert Consulting Group for 3D Systems in 1987. It is the standard file format for most FFF and SLA 3D printers. Also, it's crucial to make sure that you know how to export your design from your favourite modelling software and then get it converted to an STL file format before sending it off to get printed.

For example, small items such as jewelry will take less time to get printed than large items such as furniture. There are also practical considerations while designing objects, for example, avoiding sharp edges or thin walls, because these can't be printed successfully on certain types of machines.

Nowadays, the term has become synonymous with all 3D print files. Most popular CAD programs facilitate seamless export of these files. Many people also use the PNG to STL convert option to change file formats into the desired STL format.

5 Amazing Facts About STL files That You Must Know

3D STL files are an unstructured version of the object, which works for complex and round- shaped objects; let's dive in to find some amazing facts about this 3d file format, which you probably didn't know:

  1. An STL File is Made of Triangles.

    Yes, an STL file is made of triangles! The three-sided shape is the most common shape for an STL input because it creates a surface with no gaps or holes. For example, if you have an object with two distinct sides, then it's likely to be composed of 2 separate meshes - one on each side and connected at the edges by triangular surfaces called "patches".

    That’s why it is made up of small geometric shapes known as "triangles”. They're used in 3D modeling because there aren't any straight line, which means that all elements can fit together more smoothly without having large gaps among them. Also, it is quite simple because it contains only the basic information and it is compatible with all the software applications.

  2. So Little Has Changed Since its Inception.

    Some people still assume that STL files are quite new, but that is not true. On the contrary, 3D STL files have been existing since the 1980s. Designed by Albert Consulting Group in 1987, it is one of the most common formats used for commercial 3D printers. Now, STL is still famous for being used in commercial as well as consumer-grade 3D printers.

  3. Who Uses STL Files? Almost Everyone!

    The STL file format, which was often used to design 3D objects in computers and drawing programs, such as Autodesk Inventor or Alias, is typically accepted across the world. It is a well-known file format for 3D printers.

    Machine makers are already trying to find the universal medium that would make it possible for all machines in this industry to work together. But so far, STL remains one of the most popular formats used as it is simple and compatible with many different software programs such as Meshmixer and Netfabb.

  4. It is Designed to Describe Surface Geometry.

    Currently, STL files are crucial for most 3D print files. The geometry can be described with intricate detailing using the STL file. You can also create your desired print quicker and easier than ever before.

    In addition, you don't need any instruction for changing color or texture, which is otherwise used in other CAD files. So, the instructions are only present for surface geometry, making it even more popular.

  5. ASCII and Binary Versions

    The standard STL format is ASCII-based, which means that it has a large file size. To save space and improve processing time, binary versions of the files are available for download.

    The binary version can support up to 80 characters, and it is considered smaller than ASCII. That's why their smaller size is much more preferable for 3D printing models.


What are the limitations of STL files?

STL is the file format that 3D printers use to interpret and create 3D objects easily. They are limited only by the user's skill at constructing 3D models using the design software.

A significant limitation on 3D STL files is its accuracy, as they can come out fuzzy or "grainy". However, this problem is easily addressed by using higher-resolution mesh data before printing. And since it's not an ideal way to produce a more authentic-looking object, preferentially limit your printable STLs to either CAD drawings or low-resolution models for prototyping purposes only.

Another limitation of 3D printing STL files includes the gaps and overlaps that are generated while joining the surface models, if not drawn correctly. Also, other information, such as texture, color, or internal structure, may not be included in the STL files.

To make sure that you don't face any problem while working on the 3D models, understand the special rules for STL files such as vertex to vertex rule, all-positive octant rule, or the orientation rule for better results.

Overall, STL files are an important part of all 3D printing applications. Therefore, it is essential to know some facts about STL files if you want to work on DIY 3D printing projects. It is better to take help from professional 3D design services experts in creating 3D print ready files if you are unsure of the outcomes.

With this guide, we hope that you understood the professional framework of STL and what is interesting about this format. If you would like to know more about STL-related 3D design services, contact us for more information.