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3MF Consortium Launches to Advance 3D Printing Technology




Seven leading companies in the global 3D printing sector today launched the 3MF Consortium. The new group is releasing the 3D Manufacturing Format (3MF) specification, which allows design applications to send full-fidelity 3D models to a mix of other applications, platforms, services and printers. The first version of the specification is available now for download at no charge.

Founding members of the 3MF Consortium are: Dassault Systèmes S.A.; FIT AG/netfabb GmbH; Microsoft Corporation; HP; Shapeways, Inc.; SLM Solutions Group AG; and Autodesk Inc.

Modern 3D printers, even low-cost devices, are capable of printing items that are difficult to describe using existing formats. The 3MF specification eliminates the problems associated with currently available file formats, such as STL, which was designed in 1989. It resolves interoperability and functionality issues, enabling companies to focus on innovation in this growing field.

“The 3MF specification will empower people, maximize productivity, and unlock the full capabilities of 3D printing,” said Adrian Lannin, executive director, 3MF Consortium. “3MF will align CAD software and 3D printing hardware and software in a more information-rich file format, specifically designed to support the needs of modern 3D printing throughout the entire printing process. I look forward to the collaboration between the members as we work to accomplish this important goal.”

“The first version of the file standard of 3MF Consortium is published,” said Alex Oster, CEO of netfabb GmbH, and Chairman of the Technical Working Group of the 3MF Consortium. “I would like to thank my colleagues from the founding companies for their time and dedication to get this done. The technical working group is expecting to launch several new important additions to this standard before the year ends. I am looking forward to contributing to this exciting work.”

The 3MF Consortium's mission is to deliver a 3D printing file format that is:
• Rich enough to fully describe a model, retaining internal information, color, and other characteristics;
• Extensible so that it supports new innovations in 3D printing;
• Interoperable and open;
• Practical, simple to understand and easy to implement; and
• Free of the issues inherent in other widely used file formats.


The effort began with a discussion among industry leaders regarding how best to enable their products to work well together. The group determined that the best approach would be to create a new 3D file format and support it through a collaborative effort with broad industry involvement.

Accordingly, Microsoft donated its 3D file format work-in-progress as the starting point for the 3MF Consortium's further development of the specification.

The 3MF Consortium is a Joint Development Foundation project. The Joint Development Foundation is an independent non-profit organization that provides the corporate and legal infrastructure to enable groups to establish and operate standards and source code development collaborations.


Dassault Systèmes
“When Dassault Systèmes implemented Print-To-3D technology last September, based on our partnership with Microsoft, we thought that a wider involvement of the industry would accelerate the progress and the adoption of additive manufacturing technologies. With the rapid adoption of 3D printing capabilities and increased usage across industries, the need for a file format that can accurately and completely transfer data from a CAD system to a 3D printer became instantly obvious,” said Gian Paolo Bassi, CEO, SOLIDWORKS, Dassault Systèmes. “We are pleased to be a founding member of the 3MF Consortium and welcome the joint effort by the industry to create a new, open specification that links today's 3D design technology and 3D printing. This effort is crucial to enabling and extending the ongoing revolution in design, manufacturing, and innovation.”

“We are delighted to join the 3MF Consortium. There is a pressing need for a standardized data format for large additive manufacturing organizations like the FIT Group,” said Carl Fruth, CEO of FIT AG. “This will simplify communication with our customers and help us improve our ERP and workflow software. I would like to thank Microsoft to agreeing to take the 3MF standard into open source by handing it to a consortium of industry-leading companies. In my view this is pretty visionary and I am expecting other important companies to join shortly.”


“HP's participation in the 3MF Consortium is another proof point that demonstrates our commitment to advancing the 3D printing industry in a collaborative way,” said Scott Schiller, global director of HP's 3D printing business. “Our workflow strategy with HP Multi Jet Fusion™ is oriented to open innovation and accessibility to enable the full potential of 3D printing.”

“Shapeways enables anyone to make amazing products come to life through the power of 3D printing, and we are thrilled to be part of the 3MF effort to bring a new 3D print file format to the market,” said Peter Weijmarshausen, Shapeways CEO. “A new format will enable anyone to fully use 3D printing to its current potential, and, most importantly, will be adaptable for future technological advances. This would be a very exciting development for the industry, and so it's great to team up with the companies in the consortium. A partnership like this between industry leaders in software and hardware clearly indicates that there is a lot of momentum to make this happen.”

Autodesk Inc.
“The communication between software and hardware for 3D printing needs improvement. Currently, design information isn't communicated in a way that gets the most out of the materials and printing hardware,” said Samir Hanna, vice president and general manager, Consumer and 3D Printing, Autodesk. “We're proud to be a founding member of the 3MF Consortium and eager to lend our expertise with Spark, our open 3D printing platform, towards a new 3D printing file format that unlocks the tremendous promise of this technology.”




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