3D PULA 's feisty little brother is a list that promises to bring a little organisation to the plethora of file formats in 3D Printing/ Additive Manufacturing.

What is an .stl and .scl? Is there a way to connect .ply into .dwg?

Are Solidworks and Parasolid files 3D printable?

The list covers the most commonly used file formats you may encounter during your journey from idea to ready part. It is helpful whether you decide to design your own 3D models for Additive Manufacturing, to preview them, attempt to export them externally for the 3D print bureau service, and even to facilitate communication between the teams.

An ongoing project which will be growing with time, and, hopefully, the one that bears witness to the creation of one universal, independent, neutral 3D Printing File format.





file format generated in Autodesk's 3D Studio Max, supporting mesh, colour and texture data; later succeeded by the .max file format.

.3DM (Rhino)



an XML-based file format that includes 3D additive manufacturing data such as colour and material properties; developed by 3MF Consortium.


.abf = Arcam Build File

slice file format by Arcam.



.AMF = Additive Manufacturing Format

an XML-based file format initially released in 2011. Contrary to .stl, it has native support for colour, materials, lattices, and constellations.



.ASM = Solid edge 3d Assembly file


BIM = Building Information modeling

.BAT = Batch File

.bff = build file format (3D Systems)

BinVox = Binary Voxel Format

.blend = Blender file

.BPF = Background Preparation File (3D Systems)


.c3s = procera file


file from product design CAD software Catia by Dassault Systems.


.CLF = Common Layer File

slice format file by Arcam.

.CLI = Common Layer Interface

.CLS = Concept laser Slice files



parameter file created during slicing for each .stl, .slc and support .stl (3DSystems)

.crv = Vcarve files


a compressed .stl file created every time the part is uploaded into 3D Manage (3DSystems SLA); propriety file format by 3D Systems.



.DAE = DiGital Asset Exchange

XML-based, interchangeable file format, sometimes referred to as Collada (COLLAborative Design Activity). Originally developed by Sony Entertainment, now managed by the non-profit technology consortium Khronos.

.dae supports the colour information, embedding it directly into the 3D model, and is sometimes accepted for printing by the 3D printing bureaus without the need for conversion.

.DCM, Dicom = Digital Imaging and Communications in medicine



drawing file format



drawing file format


.F3D = Fusion 3D Design

project file generated in Autodesk Fusion 360.

.f&s = Fockele & Schwarze File




GIS = Geographic / geospacial Files

.GTS = GNU Tesselation Surface



.iam = Autodesk Inventor Assembly file

.IFC = Industry Foundation Classes

.IGS, iges

.ipt = Autodesk Inventor part file



.JT = Jupiter file format






.MatAMX = Materialise AM Exchange Files

.matPart = Materialise Part Files

.mdck = Materialise Kernel File

.mgx, .MAGIX

project files generated in Materialise Magics file preparation software by Materialise. Models can be exported in wide variety of print ready formats, software also allows for data manipulation and texturing.

.mpart = Connect Part File

.mproject = Connect Project File

.MTL = MaTerial Format

ASCII format files containing one or more material definitions (color, texture, reflection maps etc.) These are applied to the surfaces and vertices of objects. In 3D printing context, often found around the ↓.OBJ files.


MTT slice file format


project files generated in Materialise 3-matic.



file format by PTC Pro/ENGINEER CAD modeller (currently PTC Creo Parametric)

.NCM = NetFabb Compressed Mesh


3D low-polygon modeler files




.OBJ = Object File, Wavefront/alias obj

simple ASCII data-format for 3D geometry, developed by Wavefront Technologies in 1980's. By itself it does not support colour or material data, textures are applied separately with use of UV maps. Often accompanied by ↑.MTL and texture file in either .jpg, .bmp or .png format.


binary file containing essential support data (3DS)


.par = Solid edge 3d file

pBR = Physically Based Rendering

.PLA = Platform File (3DS)

.PLY = Polygon File Format or Stanford Triangle Format


.prt = Pro/E or Creo Parametric file

.PSM = Solid edge 3d file

.pvc = Photo VCarve file



.rf = Rob CAD file format

.RVT = Revit File



.SAT = ACIS file

.shp = Shape file

most common geo-spacial file format.

.SKP = Sketch Up file

file format by Trimble SketchUp.

.SLC = 3D Systems Layer Contour file

.sldASM - Solidworks Assembly file

.sldprt- SOlidworks Part File

files generated in Dassault Systems' Solidworks CAD design package.

.sli = 3D Systems Layer Interface file


slice file format for SLM Solutions’ metal printers.


.smp = Simple Bitmap File (3DS)

.ssl = StrataSys Layer interface 

SSR = Screen Space Reflections

useful term for 3D rendering.

.STL = 'STereoLitography' file format

developed for 3DSystems in 1987 before the launch of first commercial 3D Printer; sometimes also interpreted as 'Standard Tesselation Language', 'Surface Tesselation Language' or 'Standard Triangle Language', however they seem to be later explanations.


.stpz = compressed .stp file




.usf = Universal Slice File



Cut3D/ Part Works 3D Files

.VA3D, .V3M

machinist files




ASCII text file containing all the messages generated by 3D Manage software (3DSystems, SLA)


 virtual reality modeling language; succeeded by ↓X3D format



VRML-based file format used for colour models; files are often accompanied by texture files in .jpg/.bmp/.png format.



as of 2001, successor of VRML language,encoding colour texture information on top of the geometry.

x3db = Extensible 3D Binary



one of Creo Parametric/ ProE file formats

XML = Extensive Markup Language

 a type of markup language defining a set of rules for encoding documents in a format that is both human-readable and machine-readable


a Parasolid file fomat


a Parasolid file fomat


one of Creo Parametric/ ProE file formats

.X_B = Parasolid FiLe

.X_T = Parasolid File



.ZBD = ZBuilD file

original build file for ZCorp ↑3DP and ↑CJP systems, later adopted by 3D Systems for the powder-based jet binding systems.

.ZCP = ZCorp file


tool file, native to Pixologic's ZBrush 3D sculpting software.

.ZPR = Zbrush project file

.zpr = ZPrint

The Black Beach, Reynisfjara, Iceland © HD Grzywnowicz, 2017


EVEN DUST IF PILED, can become a mountain.

(lit. Many a little makes a mickle.)

Japanese Proverb


Anything worth adding?


Suggestions? Corrections?



3D Printing, Explained.

The Most Comprehensive List of Additive Manufacturing Terms. 3D Printing vocabulary. Additive Glossary.
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