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What is .3mf File ?

The 3D industry is one that constantly experiences innovations and development. Model descriptive file formats like STL have limitations. Therefore, this led to the formulation of a better file format for 3D printing. One of the considerations was enabling applications to pass model data to 3D printing machines. Therefore, this led to the advent of the 3D file format known as 3mf.

3mf was specifically invented to meet the demands of 3D printing. Therefore, several companies like Netfabb, Microsoft, and others were part of this development. We will further explain the functions of the .3mf file in this article.

.3mf file – What is it?

The .3mf file is also known as 3D manufacturing format. It is an open-source file designed to create an XML-based platform. The .3m file is a file format that design applications use to send 3D CAD models to other applications and platforms. Also, this file is widely used by several 3D programs to save 3D models. Therefore, it comprises property information, 3D model, and material.

Also, 3mf files can store a thumbnail image and digital signatures. The 3mf consortium designed the 3mf format to offer an enhanced streamlined 3D printing process. Also, the 3mf replaced other 3D formats like AMF and STL. This helped to minimize interoperability issues.

There is a 3D model in a 3mf file. This model has one or more 3D objects. The 3D model may comprise texture information for a print ticket and every 3D object that has print options. Also, a 3mf file may store .PNG or .JPG thumbnail images.  

3mf holds all the details needed about a model. This makes it useful when working between various 3D modeling software. Also, with this file, your 3mf data can get lost while in translation between 3D printers.

The Specifications and Functions of a 3mf file

A 3mf file has more information which includes texture information and color for multijet prints. Also, this file carries color data. You can use any texture information when utilizing any color-capable 3D printer.  Also, 3mf file utilizes common structures like XML and OPC to facilitate development. 3mf files use conformance tests and clear language to ensure the consistency of a file.

File format specifications

The 3mf file utilizes the Open Packaging specifications in ZIP archive format. This includes a set of relationships and parts that help to fulfill a purpose in a document. Also, this allows the format to follow the feature of the package.

What can a .3mf file store?

A .3nf file utilizes the compression of a ZIP archive. Also, you can rename the extension by unpacking it and working with the contents. 3mf file can store the following:

  • A Thumbnail
  • Texture and color information
  • More than an object in a scene
  • Scene units
  • Scene measurements and scale
  • Printer configuration information
  • Beam lattices
  • Data encryption
  • Material data
  • Volumetric design
  • Full support for direct machine preparation

Advantages of a 3mf file

A 3mf file features a lot of advantages. Also, it is specifically designed to improve 3D printing operation. Hence, it makes the 3D printing process very efficient and fast.


The 3mf file enables private and public extensions. Therefore, this makes 3mf files applicable for various software. Also, it carries over information such as latticing part internals

Security features

One of the advantages of a 3mf file is that it supports various security features. Furthermore, it supports data encryption. Also, this support comes in handy in medical additive manufacturing. It is important in scenarios where unsecured files could go against patient confidentiality regulations.


.3mf file can save memory. It is more efficient by editing existing files.

Defined edges

A .3mf file is impossible to create without manifold edges. Also, .3mf offers a definition of manifoldness. You can move or reference single objects without the need to change the mesh. Also, you can place several identical objects by referencing the same mesh.

More Facts About .3mf file

The .3mf file was specifically designed to feature model information within a single archive. This file format is great enough to describe a model fully. In addition, it retains internal information and other characteristics. Also, it supports 3D printing innovations. The.3mf file can be broadly adopted.

.3mf files allow you to capture parts’ instances including their locations. The utilization of a .3mf file helps to reduce errors. Also, it ensures that the file can be repeated in the part geometry and machine settings. The .3mf file manufacturers are constantly updating and improving the functions of .3mf files.

Also, when it comes to manufacturing process information, .3mf functions well. 3mf can carry metadata for your machine information and print settings. There is access to machine information and print settings. Therefore, you can control the support structures and as well as carry the information to your printer using a single file.

In addition, .3mf file ensures there are security protocols in manufacturing data. With this file, you can reduce the number of copies your machine’s part can make. .3mf addresses the weaknesses of other file formats like VRML, STL, and OBJ. Therefore, it creates a 3D format for additive manufacturing. Also, there are hardware manufacturers and software platforms that have been supporting .3mf manufacturing.

 Some of these hardware and software include:

  • Creo
  • Prusa Slicer
  • Envision one RP
  • Oqton
  • EOS
  • Sinterit
  • Stratasys
  • 3D systems
  • Ultimaker

How .3mf File Helps Additive Manufacturers

The .3mf file was initially designed for additive manufacturing. Therefore, it makes 3D printing operation efficient enough. The print-ready format saves up all slicing and support information in the data archive. Since the .3mf file features all information, this renders printer-specific slicers obsolete.

Also, this file format makes it easier to share 3D printing than before. For instance, an industrial engineer can design a model in a CAD program like Fusin 360. This provides extensions for additive manufacturing to support structures. In addition, .3mf file supports many security features like data encryption.

For additive manufacturers, 3mf provides solutions to several problems. It offers industry-backed format without any loss of detail.


The .3mf file is a revolutionary format that promotes 3D printing capability. It addresses the weaknesses of other file formats and has more strength. This file format is supported by several hardware and software.