What’s the deal with files?
One of the things that confuses many people about 3D printing is file formats. With no one-sizefits-all format, the question of which to use is one that every newcomer will ask.
“Depending on the printed output type (single colour, full colour, plastic, resin etc) there can be a preference for the model input format”, explains Richard Curtis, Principal Solutions Consultant at Adobe. “If it’s a single colour then it’s most likely an STL file, or for full colour, it could be an OBJ or a VRML file”.
When making a file you must also be mindful that it’s going to become a physical object, governed by its geometry. If you create your own files, it’s rarely a question of just clicking ‘print’.
“All 3D objects need to be prepared for printing – a process typically referred to as model fixing”, Curtis says. “Model fixing is a quality inspection process, intended to ensure objects are water tight and the object geometry is suitable for 3D printing. Some common preparations and corrections include repairing holes, removing floating polygons, correcting polygons facing the wrong way or simple tasks such as creating temporary printing supports for some nasty overhanging elements”.
There are a number of different 3D modelling tools for the Mac, many of which are free, such as Blender, SketchUp and SculptGL which is the one shown here.