How to Make STL File for 3D Printing

3D printing is more accessible now than it has ever been. More people can easily own 3D printers and start using them to develop different parts and products. So which is the best way of preserving your 3D designs?

STL file format is the most preferred digital file for storing 3D designs. This is because 3D printers can easily read and interpret STL( Standard Tessellation Language) files for execution. Ever since the invention of the CAD software, STL has been the main type of file that is used for 3D printing.

What is an STL File?

STL stands for stereolithography and it is a native file format that is used for most CAD software that is used for 3D printing. This file format’s history dates back to the 1980s when it first came into existence.

With the invention of 3D modeling, there was a dire need to find file formats that will be compatible with 3D printers. Different 3D software developers came with their formats.

Open-source file formats were developed to encourage collaboration between different 3D modeling software. This is where the STL file format comes in. It is a perfect example of an open-source format.

Other file formats for 3D printing include STEP, OBJ, and IGS.

Why Make STL File for 3D Printing?

How to Make STL File for 3D Printing

There is no doubt that STL is the most popular file format for 3D printing. So why should I use this file format and not the others?

Several features differentiate STL from other alternative file formats for 3D printing.

One of the reasons for using the STL file is it exists in a tessellated format which makes it easy to approximate the surface of a 3D model using the preset triangles. These triangles are a common feature in most 3D printing.

Another reason for using STL file format is compatibility with different 3D software programs. STL has been widely accepted as a standard format for 3D modeling hence can be interpreted by different software.

Thirdly, it is easy to publish and STL file format. The simple nature of this file helps to keep their sizes small. Apart from publishing, STL files can be shared among different 3D printers.

With these reasons, you should focus on making STL file every time that you are faced with the task of 3D printing.

Tools for Making STL Files for 3D Printing

Wondering how STL files are created? Well, you don’t have to think hard as this is the work of the 3D modeling software. Yours is only to follow a few instructions for using the relevant software and you will be able to have your file within a short time.

Which tools should I use? To make things easier for you, here is a compilation of the best software tools that you can use to create STL files for 3D printing:

3DS Max by Autodesk

Developed by Autodesk, 3DS Max is a powerful tool that you can use for creating your STL files for 3D printing. The software has been around for quite some time so you can fully trust its reliability.

3DS Max tool for 3D printing comes with a ton of customization tools that you can use for optimizing your 3D file. The features can help you visualize right at the moment that you start designing your 3D files to the end of the process.

The tool has a user-friendly interface so navigating and using it for creating STL files won’t be a problem. You can use it whether you are an experienced 3D designer or you are a beginner.

The software has an automated 3D rendering feature that you can use for creating VR visuals. It also has high-end brushes and sculpting tools.

SketchUp Tool for 3D Modeling

SketchUp is another handy tool that you can use for creating STL files for 3D modeling. The user-friendly interface makes it an ideal file for both beginners and experienced 3D modeling designers. It is also among the fewest STL creating tools that are available for free.

SketchUp has a layout feature that will enable you to transform your 3D model into a drawing and you can still do the reverse. The software also gives users access to the database where you can download an array of 3D objects that you will use as a reference.

NetFabb by Autodesk

NetFabb is another 3D modeling tool from Autodesk that you can use for executing numerous tasks that are related to 3D printing. One of these tasks is creating STL files from nothing.

Apart from just the creation of STL files, the tool can also accept files that are imported from other workstations. You will still be able to edit these files before they are ready for 3D printing.

The working mechanism of NetFabb is slightly different as it converts 3D STL models layer by layer allowing you to work on your project sequentially. NetFabb comprises different modules with each module having unique capabilities.

How to Make STL File for 3D Printing

Maya 3D 

The power and capability of Maya cannot be easily underrated. The software is fully capable of creating STL formats for a 3D model from scratch. This is just among many amazing features that come with using this tool.

The software has a feature that allows users to execute tasks using a programming language. Still, if you are not into the technical aspect of 3D modeling, you can interact with the tool using a friendly interface.

Maya has a preview feature that you can use to preview your STL file before submitting it to the next stage. This will help you to eliminate errors and defects on the file.


Blender is also a popular tool that you can use to create an STL file format for 3D printing. It is also an open-source software hence you can access it with total ease.

The software features powerful simulation tools that you can use to preview your 3D projects. As open-source software, Blender is supported by a large community of users.


As you can see, it is possible to create STL file formats from nothing. All you need is to choose the right software to do the job.

If you are not sure about the steps to follow, you should consider seeking advice from 3D experts. At 3DLT, we are eager to help you get the best results when it comes to 3D printing.

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