In the world of 2D files, images can have different file formats – PNG, JPG, and others. Similarly, each 3D modeling software has its own file formats. However, Standard Triangle Language (STL) is the most common and widely used format to print objects. Using the format, people can print anything, ranging from a fictional character, a popular 3D girl model, superhero armor, to various other objects.
A 3D model is a three-dimensional object’s visual representation developed on a computer. STL files work as input for a 3D printer. Those who want to print a 3D object for the first time need to ensure that they have 3D printable STL files.
The Process of Creating a 3D Model
To make STL files readable for a 3D printer, it is essential to turn them into a design. There are various kinds of designing software and applications that can be used for designing a 3D model. The process involves three major steps:
- Setting up the modeling program
- Planning a design
- Creating a model
Making a 3D model is a complex process, which requires an individual to have knowledge about modeling software and tools. Beginners can download 3D printer models online from a store offering STL files for various kinds of objects.
Downloading a 3D Model
There are some great online stores that allow users to download STL files for 3D printers. Apart from STL, some other 3D file formats are x3d, wrl, zip, and dae. However, most of them are not supported by all 3D printers.
Some easy designs might be free at an online store, while professional designs come at a price. For example, one has to pay a price for models like Sephiroth armor set, IceMan, fully wearable armor set, and others. Similar to online shopping, one can buy a 3D model design in just a few clicks. Once purchased, the buyer gets STL files via email.
Getting 3D Printing Material
Material is as important as an STL file. Without a material, it is impossible to print a 3D object. There are various kinds of materials available in the market right now. The most common among them include plastic, PLA, nylon, metal, ceramic, and wood. One can choose a material that is supported by their 3D printer. Similar to an STL file, one can purchase the material online from a 3D printing service provider to receive it at the doorstep.
Printing a 3D Model
Once STL files are received, the next step is to send them to a 3D printer to start the printing process. Here, one needs to explore STL files to the printer, which is a fairly simple process. In addition to uploading a file, a user has to choose a 3D printing material.
After a 3D model file is sent to the printer, the process of printing an object begins. The nozzle starts to heat and reaches the temperature required to melt the material. After that, the printer begins to print a 3D object in layers. One can experience the process from a distance to ensure a smooth creation.
Once a model is completed, it goes into the post-processing phase, which is also the last stage of 3D printing. Here, different steps are followed to get an attractive 3D piece of an object. They include:
- Removing support material
- Sanding to get rid of mis-aligned layers
- Painting to make an object attractive and seal its parts
- Polishing and smoothing the object
- Welding (If there are multiple pieces that were not printed as a single piece)