604-910-0165 info@3dre.ca


What to do with a STL file!

So you had your part 3D scanned and have a STL or OBL file  or a mesh file but you cannot use it!

This is something I hear a lot! That is because STL files are a mesh or point cloud that can be imported to most cad programs with additional plugins or packages, but they are not easily able to edit them, most people cannot machine from them either, but however you can 3d print from them, mostly!

We can take these 3d scan data files and make them useful for you!

STL File Quality

The STL file quality is one major point, if you get data from a 3d scanner that is a consumer quality you possible will not get great accuracy or point density. This can be important depending on your project and what the resultant product will be.  When you use a system that is professional grade you will get great accuracy and point density.

STL files and CAD programs

When you get a part scanned most people need a CAD file that can be imported into a program like Solidworks, Inventor, MasterCam , or Gibbscam the list is endless. However a STL has a problem with these programs it is not editable, it’s large and it most likely has no sharp edges.

We takes these STL files and use #GeomagicDesignX from #3DSystems and convert them into CAD files that are either dumb solids like IGES, or STP files or Parametric Solidworks files. These files can be easily imported into your program and modified as required. With Geomagic Design X we can either make the CAD file as the exact surface of the part or Reverse Engineer it to the Design Intent model.

We can guarantee that these files will import into your CAD program!

STL files and 3D Printing

Most people think that 3d printing generates nice clean files that can be easily sent to a 3d printer and there you go a new plastic part. However scanning is the easy part but the data always need to be edited.

With the scan there are some issues or things you want to do!

  1. The 3d scanner cannot capture all the part due to line of sight, interior or parts are the issue.
  2. The 3d scan data will not have perfect sharp edges.
  3. The 3d scan data will have holes that need to be filled to make it water tight.
  4. There make be noise in the data that needs to be smoothed.
  5. The 3d scan data will not be orientated properly in space and cause wasted 3d print material.
  6. The 3d scan file may be large and need to be decimated and cleaned up.
  7. You may want to remove a feature like a hole?

Here is a simple part that was scanned and it shows some simple errors that occur even when using high end scanners.

Scanning defects even on a simple part.


Holes that need to be filled.


Enhanced and cleaned up and decimated Scan data file holes may not be filled correctly


CAD data file from the scan data ready for CNC or 3D printed


With Geomagic Design X we can import the scan data fill the holes and clean up the file to make it more printable but sometimes converting it to a CAD file is the best option to get a super clean 3d print and add or remove features as necessary.

So when you are getting a part 3d scanned make sure that the file you want can be generated!

If you have a STL file and need help send it to info@3dreveng.com and we will evaluate it for you.

www.3dreveng.com is a 3d scanning service provider located in Vancouver BC Canada.