3D Printing Technologies: Fused Deposition Modeling (Part 1)

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AnetLau
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Joined: 2020-06-24 1:56

3D files can be heavy, very heavy. This can be a problem when trying to upload 3D files to websites like i.materialise or when trying to share them online with your colleagues and friends. In this blog post, we will take a look at how you can reduce the size of your 3D model files and what level of detail you should be aiming for in order to get a high-quality 3D print.

Why reduce the size of your 3D file?


In theory, there’s nothing wrong with a large file. In practice, however, 3D files need to be shared or uploaded – and that’s where overly heavy 3D files can be a pain. For example, i.materialise has an upload size limit of 100 MB.

Additionally, most of those very heavy files have a level of detail that are just way beyond what the eye can see or what any 3D printer can print. That’s why we will explain in this tutorial how file size can be reduced while keeping the quality of your 3D print. After all, we do not want to reduce the file size in exchange for a lower quality print.


Why are some 3D files so large?


When 3D models are exported to .STL files (the most common file format when it comes to 3D printing), they will be expressed as a mesh made of triangles. The smaller these triangles are, the smoother and more detailed the surface of your model will be… and the bigger the size of your 3D file. Reducing the number of triangles will reduce the smoothness of the surfaces, but also the file size. In the image below you can see some examples from high polygon model (left) to a low polygon model (right) that might say more than a thousand words. In this example, the file size of the left sphere is quite big, while the right sphere has a small file size.


Image


The challenge for a designer is to find the perfect trade-off between having a well-detailed, non-pixelated model and a file that is small enough to be easily shared and uploaded. Luckily, this is easier than you might think.


Created by Fabian in i.materialise.com


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