AM design software company nTopology has integrated support for the 3MF file format with beam extension in its nTop Platform 2.14 release. Users of the software can now easily export meshes and lattices as beams in the same .3mf file, facilitating the export process for 3D printing files and easing the transition to other software tools like Materialise Magics.
The 3MF file format was conceived by some of world’s leading 3D printing companies, including 3D Systems, Autodesk, Microsoft, HP, Materialise, Stratasys, SLM Solutions and Ultimaker, who came together to establish a universal 3D printing file format that accounts for all of additive manufacturing’s use cases. 3MF is positioned as an alternative to the STL file format, which tends to produce large file sizes and does not account for important material data.
In nTopology’s case, it has added support for 3MF to facilitate the export of 3D models with complex geometries. According to Duann Scott, VP of Marketing at nTopology, “The 3MF file format affords us that opportunity by not only exporting meshes that are often ⅓ the size of the dreaded STL file but also by exporting some lattice structures as a beam element which are levels of magnitude more efficient than a mesh representation.”
With 3MF support, nTop Platform users can export the full build volume of a diamond lattice structure with variable thickness as a 3,400 kb file, which is easily importable into Materialise Magics and other similar software programs. An STL mesh of the same part geometry would not only be over 3 gb in size, but it would also be inferior in terms of resolution.
On the nTop Platform 2.14, users can now export meshes and lattices as 3MF files, upload them to Materialise Magics, and then use their existing support structure strategies and slice the designs without meshing the lattice beams to prepare them for printing on a range of systems.
Stefaan Motte, Vice President of Software at Materialise, said: “As one of the founding members of the 3MF Consortium, we are excited about this connection with nTopology. Beam lattices represent a first step, but there is still a lot of potential to extend the 3MF standard in order to create a more streamlined build process. In addition to basic file import/export, we also envision more integrated ways to connect 3rd party solutions into our 3D printing backbone, including API’s and cloud platforms.”
“nTopology’s contributions to the 3MF community demonstrate its commitment to both its users and the industry-at-large,” added Luis Baldez, executive director at 3MF Consortium. “The company understands the collective power of advancing an open standard that enables innovation and interoperability while reducing complexity for everyday users. We applaud them for their role in 3MF adoption and their business success.”
Notably, in 2018, nTopology’s Element software became the first piece of CAD software to offer full importing and exporting of 3MF’s Beam Lattice extension, which was developed with nTopology’s direct involvement.