Transferring a 3D File
In order to use Sculpteo’s 3D printing services, you will first need to have a 3D file. A 3D file contains data needed so that our 3D printers can print an object in 3D. Here you will find information on how to transfer your 3D file to Sculpteo. You will learn how to obtain a 3D file, the importance of model size, what kind of files we accept, problems that could arise from your model and whether your 3D file is printable or not, and how to optimize your 3D file once you've uploaded to Sculpteo.
You will find this information in the following categories:
- Getting Started - You will learn how to obtain or create a 3D file and what you need to check before having your object 3D printed.
- Export your 3D file to upload to our online 3D printing service - An overview of the supported file formats we accept, file size, how to export your file, and what files are needed for 3D printing in full color.
- Uploading a File - How to upload a design and how to use Sculpteo tools to analyze your file.
Obtain a 3D File
In order to use Sculpteo’s 3D printing services, you will first need to have a 3D file. Pictures or photos do not contain the essential data our 3D printers need to 3D print an object you want. So how can you obtain 3D files ? Here is a list of a few options you have :
- Creating the 3D file yourself: learn more about the 3D modeling softwares you will need, please refer to the creating a 3D model
- Have a designer create a 3D file for you
- 3D Print models that are readily available in our Shops
- Get started with our free 3D design Workshops online : create text in 3D, customize a keyring, create geometric shapes, create a 3D picture from an image, create a customized medal, explore the pixel engine, create a customizable cup
- Use free 3D models from marketplaces such as CGTrader or Pinshape
Creating a 3D Model for 3D printing
There are many ways to create a model. You can create a 3D model by using professional CAD software or popular 3D modeling packages. You can create an object with userfriendly and free 3D design software and apps. Whatever the software you use, you should keep in mind that creating a 3D model for 3D printing is not the same as creating a 3D model for animation. Sculpteo has several tutorials that you can refer to when creating 3D models for a 3D printer within the 3D software you choose..
Bellow you will find some examples of 3D design software you can use. These are just our suggestions but feel free to create a 3D model in any 3D software package that can export to any file format that we accept!
|Professional CAD softwares||3D modeling softwares||Free 3D design softwares||Free and easy to use 3D design apps|
Check your 3D model respect design guidelines
Before you create a 3D model, you should check that it does not contain modeling errors. To do so, you can refer to our tutorials explaining how to prepare your model for 3D printing .
In addition, you should also keep in mind respect the design guidelines for the material you wish to 3D print in. Each material has specific guidelines that you should adhere to. For instance, you should check the actual size of the model. Keep in mind that if the model is larger than the 3D printers build area, the model will need to be scaled to fit or re-designed into parts/pieces if the integrity of the size must be maintained. After it is printed, then it will need to be assembled.
Once you have taken all the necessary precautions to ensure that your file is ready for 3D printing, export your 3D file to any supported file format and then you are ready to upload your file to Sculpteo!
Export your 3D file to upload to our online 3D printing service.
Supported File Formats
Once you have your 3D file, you will need to make sure that the file you send us, is in a file format that we accept. Below are the most common file formats that our 3D printers here at Sculpteo can exploit. To learn more about 3D file export refer to the paragraph bellow.
|Format||3D Geometry||Colors||Textures||Additional Information|
Colors feature is supported if the MTL, OBJ and image files for the textures are archived in a ZIP file.
Textures Textures feature is supported if the image files for the textures and the 3D model is archived in a ZIP file.
|KMZ (Google Earth)|
|3DS (3D Studio)||Textures feature is supported if the image files for the textures and the 3D model is archived in a ZIP file.|
|AC3D||Textures feature is supported if the image files for the textures and the 3D model is archived in a ZIP file.|
|ASE (3D Studio)|
|DAE (Collada)||Textures feature is supported if the image files for the textures and the 3D model is archived in a ZIP file.|
|DXF (AutoCAD)||Up to Release 12 version of the format.|
|STEP (ISO 10303)|
|ZIP||An archive containing any supported 3D file, textures and colors.|
|RAR||An archive containing any supported 3D file, textures and colors.|
|TGZ||An archive containing any supported 3D file, textures and colors.|
3D File Size and 3D Printer Resolution
It is good practice to have the smallest file size possible. Getting a file ready for 3D printing can increase the time it takes for the 3D printer software to slice model(s). In some cases, you can even cause a software crash if the model(s) are too dense in geometry, resulting in a bloated file size. Model resolution does not equate to file size, so do not think that a larger file size means a high resolution model. 3D printers can only handle so many polygons.
Sculpteo has a 3D file size upload limit of 50MB. Anything larger, will take longer to analyze however, you can .ZIP the file and then upload.
To learn more about 3D printing resolution and limitations by material you can refer to our material design guidelines .
3D File Export
You should export your 3D file from the program which you created your file from in any of the Supported File Formats . Please view our tutorials that cover various 3D software on how to prepare, fix and export your model for 3D Printing.
Save a STL file from different softwares
If given the option, export your 3D model as an STL. Our online tools (the repair tool in particular) work most effectively with STL files. Here's a table that explains, step by step, how to export an STL file from a multitude of software.
|Software used||Step 1||Step 2||Step 3||Step 4||Step 5|
|1. Type (at the command prompt): FACETRES||2. Set facetres Between 1-10 (10 being best)||3. Type (at the command prompt): STLOUT||4. Select the objects to be exported||5. Select: Y for Binary|
Color & Texture
If you want to 3D print in full color, you will need to make sure that your file either has vertice color or texture. Vertice color is when the texture or color information is applied directly onto each vertice of the model. Texture is a separate image file that is mapped to the geometry.
If your file is in .obj format, you will need to include the following files in a zip archive before uploading.
- .obj (your 3D model)
- .mtl (attaches the image to your 3D model)
- .jpg (or other image format if your 3D model contain textures)
You can also use .WRL or .VRML format. These formats contain your 3D model geometry as well as color information.
Image formats can be .jpg, .png, .bmp, .gif, .tga or any others. Just be sure that the image file is properly attached. It's never a bad thing to double check!
Uploading a 3D File
Uploading your File on your Online 3D Printing Service
When you are ready to upload your 3D Model, you can go to the Upload page. From there, you can select a file from your computer or Drag and Drop a 3D File. You can even choose the visibility of your upload. Public files will be visible to any visitor and can be ordered. Private files are not searchable and only visible to those with a link. While you are waiting for the upload to complete, you can name your design, add a description, select a category, add tags, change the visibility, allow people to customize the model and choose if you want people with a link to be able to purchase the model or not.
Once uploaded, our algorithms will analyse and automatically repair your 3D file if some 3D design errors remains.
After Uploading: Tools to Configure & Analyze Your File
After uploading a model to Sculpteo, you can choose material, the finish you want and change the scale of the model uniformly by entering the dimensions you want. Your 3D print price will be displayed on the right of your screen and it will be updated in real time automatically depending on modifications you will do.
However, it is always good practice to ensure that your model is the proper size before exporting in any file format. After upload, our website could think that your model is in inches or millimeters when your model should actually be in cm! This is because some file format do not contain units information. Whichever measurement unit you need your model to be in, ensure that the proper measurement unit is attached to your model in the 3D Print Settings.
Once you have uploaded your 3D file and choosen the material/finish and scale, there are tools available that will optimize and analyze your 3D file. By selecting the Optimize tab, you have the option of Batch Control and Hollowing. Both features allow you to optimize your unit price and the amount of material used.
To use Batch Control, you must enter 20 or more units to receive the best pricing on certain materials. After the new pricing is calculated, you can click on Review Batch to see how the models will be placed into the 3D Printer for printing. Sculpteo will always present to you the best solution. However, you can always customize the orientation of how your models will be printed. To learn more, you can read our article about our Batch Control feature .
To use Hollowing, click on 'OFF' to switch it to 'ON'. The algorithm will hollow your model and then you will be able to choose where to place holes. Holes are needed so that powder can be removed from the inside and of course, lower the price of your 3D Print. To learn more, you can read our article about our hollowing tool .
Solidity Check Control
By selecting the Review tag, you can view a Cutaway View of your design so you can see it from all angles, inside and out before printing. You can also check the solidity of the model. The algorithm analyzes the models solidity depending on the material selected as well as different thicknesses or solidity threshhold. For example, the full color sandstone material is more fragile than white plastic, so comparing the solidity of these materials for the same model will give you different results depending on the complexity of the model.