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How To Prepare STL file

How to Prepare 3d Printing STL Files: Your Ultimate Free 3d Printing Ebook

3d printing technology is vast and anyone who wants to explore this technology needs to know the fundamentals. As there are many vital aspects of additive manufacturing, we will have a comprehensive look at 3D printing STL files and prepare them accurately.Whether you are a beginner at 3d printing or have already started reading more about it, these free beginners guide to 3D printing at Zeal3D will help you out. In this 3D printing free tutorial for beginners regarding the STL files, we will explore the essential aspects of the STL file format and its best practices. Whether you are starting out 3D printing or already doing it for a while, this guide will help you.

Introduction to STL file:

STL or Standard Triangle Language is the standard file type that engineers use for performing additive manufacturing. In this method, the software uses a trail of graphical triangle shapes to render a model's surface. Regardless of what CAD software you use, all the latest platforms let you directly export your original file format into the STL file. .

Once you export your native format into STL, then the file is converted into machine language known as G-code. This STL to G-code conversion process is known as slicing, and once the slicing is complete, the design is ready to print.

In this 3D Printing free guide, we will look at the step-by-step process to upload your models correctly.

3d Printing STL Files


Using different 3D scanning software, a digital 3D CAD model is first created. The digital model is then converted into a file that can be used for 3D printing. Finally, the material selected is laid down in succession, one layer after another to obtain the physical object.

There are many types of 3D printing technologies, such as FDM 3D printing, SLA or SLS, DMLS, material jetting, and variations of these. Along with the variety of techniques, the inventory of 3D print filaments is also expanding.

Step One: Know about the STL resolution

In 3d printing, the file format contains a series of triangles that are interlinked together. These series of multiple triangles form the surface geometry of the model. When you increase the resolution of the file, the number of triangles also increases parallelly. When your 3d printing file has more triangles, it will be of higher resolution, but it will also increase the file size.

On the other side, if someone exports a lower resolution file, then the 3d printing file will have a pixelated surface, and the triangles will also be visible. So, while you import your design file, ensure it's not of poor resolution. However, engineers do use these low-resolution files to print low poly models along with digital finishing.

However, drastically increasing the resolution is also not recommended as it slows down the processing, bringing more extra value. Even if you improve the resolution of the file, the 3d printer will not print very minute details. Ultimately, this mistake will make the process more complicated to handle.

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Altering the STL resolution:

If you need to change the STL file resolution, you can modify the tolerance in the designing software. If you are not sure how to reset from a very low or high-resolution setting, select the high preset option. This high preset option will optimize the file's resolution and help you create perfect files for 3d printing.

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Know about the STL resolution
Exporting Parameter

Step Two: Select the proper exporting parameters.

Picking up the correct exporting parameters is crucial for the better final product quality. Every CAD software has a distinct approach towards defining the STL resolution. But, there are two most common parameters, which are: angle and chord height.

The chord height is the maximum geometrical distance that the software will specify between the STL file's surface & the original 3d model's surface. The pro tip here is to use a smaller height chord to determine more accurate surface curvature.

Recommended chord height

In many free 3D printing tutorial books, they will recommend that you should keep the chord height 1/20th of the 3d printing material layer's thickness. In simple terms, it should not fall below one micron or 0.001mm. By doing this, your STL file will have a decent accuracy used for all generic 3d printing applications.

When you export your file in a smaller tolerance value, it will not cause any change in print's quality. It is because most of the standard 3d printers can't deliver an output of such higher details.

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Right angular tolerance

It's essential to keep the angular tolerance ideal to achieve an accurate final output. Angular tolerance caps the angle that forms between the multiple triangle's normal. For saving time here, it's a pro tip to keep it to the settings of 15°. In many CAD software and 3D printing free tutorial classes, you will find the option of inserting either 0 or 1.

Don't get overwhelmed by this, as the setting of default 15° is shown by 0. On the other side, you need to insert 1 for higher resolution setting to create a smoother finish.

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Step Three: Exporting STL files from CAD software

Multiple CAD software has its respective set of exporting rules or ways that are slightly different from each other. However, the thumb rule remains the same; you only need to keep that in mind. For achieving the best final outputs, export your files with the chord height of .001 mm and the angular tolerance of 15°. Another pro tip that every free guidebook will recommend you is to avoid exporting huge files if it's not necessary.

Keep these basic things in mind to 3d print STL Files like a professional. When it comes to picking the right CAD software, the options are many. Before you join your beginner 3D printing class and hands-on this innovative technology, we have gathered some best software for you.

As a beginner, you will find these two options that are best for you in almost every 3d printing free ebook, which are:

  • Tinkercad
  • SketchUp

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And, if you are into creating complex engineering geometries and structures, then you can try any of the below CAD tools:

  • Autodesk Inventor
  • IronCAD
  • Rhinoceros
  • PTC Creo Parametric

If you are more into fashion and art designing, then you can pick any of the 3d CAD tools and start creating:

  • Blender
  • ZBrush
  • Maya

You will find this most preferred CAD software in only online 3d printing free ebooks. Every tool has a slight learning curve, and when you start using them, you will get to know more tricks and tips about it.

These were the essential and most important tips or processes that every beginner should know to refine their 3d printing workflow. Bookmark this STL files free tutorial so that you can use it as a reference anytime in future. Start creating your unique designs and flaunt your 3d printing skills to your peers and friends with this guide. And, if you are looking for professional 3D CAD series for your project, we at Zeal are here to get you started. Drop us a message and our team at Zeal will get you going.

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Industries and Applications

The following industries are the most ardent users of AM technologies in their businesses.


Lightweight aerodynamics parts are desirable in the automobile industry. This contributes to making cars more energy efficient. 3D printing in the automotive industry is used both for rapid prototyping services as well as for some end parts creation.


The precision and accuracy of 3D print processes are helping the manufacturing industry reduce material wastage, save time, money, and efforts.


Rapid prototyping has become a crucial component used in R&D departments of leading businesses. It helps save time and money for the manufacturers.

Medical and Healthcare

This is one of the most promising sectors for applications of 3D printing. Some of the applications include prototyping for product development to creating actual patient solutions, such as dental crowns, prosthetics, implants, human tissues, and organs, as well as 3D printed surgical instruments.

What is 3D Printing?


3D architectural models enable businesses to showcase accurate details of projects. Architects also have greater design flexibility when they use 3D CAD models.

Aluminum 3D Printing


Lightweight aerodynamics parts are desirable in the automobile industry. This contributes to making cars more energy efficient. 3D printing in the automotive industry is used both for rapid prototyping services as well as for some end parts creation.


This industry was one of the earliest adopters of additive manufacturing. Rapid prototyping has become a critical component in the development of replacement and end parts in this industry.

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