3D PULA 's feisty little brother is a list of file formats 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 convert .ply into .dwg?

Are Solidworks and Parasolid files printable?

The list covers the most commonly used file formats you may encounter during your journey from the idea to a physical 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 teams.

An ongoing project which will hopefully witness to the creation of the universal and independent 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)

files generated in surface modeling software RhinoCeros (aka Rhino or Rhino 3D), developed by Robert McNeel and Associates.



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




file format for laser cutting.

.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.




file format generated in Autodesk's 3D Studio Max.

.ASM - 3d Assembly file (SOLID EDGE)


BIM - Building Information modeling

.BAT = Batch File

.bdry - Three-dimensional Geometry Files

.bff - build file format (3D Systems)

BinVox - Binary Voxel Format

.blend - Blender file

file generated in open source free 3D Modeling and Animation package Blender.

.BPF - Background Preparation File (3D Systems)


.c3s - procera file


file from product design CAD software Catia by Dassault Systems.


file from product design CAD software Catia by Dassault Systems.


file format used for laser cutting.

CGI - Computer Generated Images


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


TrueSpace file

Collada - COLLAborative Design Activity

see: ↓*.dae


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

.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 file; originally developed by Sony Entertainment, in present managed by the non-profit tech 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.

.DCM, Dicom - Digital Imaging and Communications in medicine



drawing file format


AutoCAD file format



EDM files


drawing file format


Catia file format


.F3D - Fusion 3D Design

project file generated in Autodesk Fusion 360.

.f&s - Fockele & Schwarze File


popular file format used mostly for animation packages. Can be created in Pixologic’s ZBrush.



GIS - Geographic / geospacial Files

.GTS - GNU Tesselation Surface



.iam - Inventor Assembly file

file native to Autodesk Inventor.

.IFC - Industry Foundation Classes

.IGS, .iges

IMM - Insert Multi Mesh

special brush in Pixologic ZBrush, consisting of a collection of small meshes ready to place on the mesh you are working on and sculpt with. Particularly useful for small, intricate, repetitive and otherwise time-consuming features.

.ipt - Inventor part file

file format native to Autodesk Inventor.


.JT - Jupiter file format



file exported from Google Earth


. lstl

an .stl file whose properties have been altered in a propriety data management software, to prevent unauthorised access, duplication or alteration. An ongoing investigation.


Lightwave file



.ma - Maya ASCII

file format created in Autodesk Maya; easily cross-imported between programs.

.mB - Maya Binary

file format created in Autodesk Maya; compared to ↑.ma, Maya Binary files tend to be more compressed, therefore smaller, than Ascii, however they tend not work on software packages other than Maya.

.MatAMX - Materialise AM Exchange Files

.matPart - Materialise Part Files


Quake file format


Quake file format

.mdck - Materialise Kernel File

.mgx, .magics, .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.

.model File

Catia file format

.mpart - Connect Part File

.mproject - Connect Project File

.mrf - Materialise Rapid Fit Files

.mte - Materialise Tooling Expert files

.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 alongside texture files accompanying the ↓.OBJ files\

.mtl - Materialise Tooling Files

Materialise Magics

.mts - Materialise Tooling Expert 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

file format native to Autodesk NetFabb.


3D low-polygon modeler files


Unigraphics file format

NURBS - Non-Uniform Rational B-Spline

A type of geometry that supports curves, patches, surfaces with minimal amount of control points. NURBS objects come with inbuilt UV maps.

Example supporting software: Rhinoceros by Robert McNeel and Associates.


.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 (3DSystems- specific)



.par - Solid edge 3d file

pBR - Physically Based Rendering

.pdf - 3D .pdf file

.pff - Platform Files

.PLA - Platform File (3DSystems)

.PLY - Polygon File Format or Stanford Triangle Format



3D Studio Max file format

.prt - Pro/E or Creo Parametric file


Unigraphics file format

.PSM - Solid edge 3d file

.pvc - Photo VCarve file



file format exported from Quick3D


.rcm - ReCap Mesh

a mesh file created from capture data in Autodesk ReCap (previously known as Autodesk Memento or Autodesk ReTake).

.rf - Rob CAD file format

.RVT - Revit File

files created in building information modelling (BIM) software, Autodesk Revit



.SAT - ACIS file


OpenSCAD file format

.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 SolutionsSelective Laser Melting metal 3D printers.

.SMESH - 3 Dimensional Surface Mesh File

.smp - Simple Bitmap File (3D SYSTEMS)

.ssl - StrataSys Layer interface 

SSR - Screen Space Reflections

useful term in 3D rendering


ISO 10303

.STL - 'STereoLitography' file format

file format developed for 3DSystems in 1987 before the launch of its first commercial 3D Printer; 

.stl may be also transliterated as 'Standard Tesselation Language', 'Surface Tesselation Language' or 'Standard Triangle Language', however those seem to have been devised at a later date.


see ↑.step

.stpz - compressed .stp file


Laser cutting file format, rendering some of the best results.





.ucs - User Coordinate System File

coordinate system file created in CAD program. Can be loaded into certain file manipulation software or a slicers, to replace the absolute coordinate system (WCS).

UI - User Interface

UX - User Experience

.usf - Universal Slice File



Cut3D/ Part Works 3D Files

.VA3D, .V3M

machinist files



VDB - Vector Displacement Brushes

digitally sculpted 3D objects that can be used as brushes in Pixologic ZBrush. They differ from IMM or Alphas in terms of depth and degree of sculptability. Can be user-created.

VFX - Visual Effects


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


 virtual reality modeling language; succeeded by ↓X3D format


WCS - World Coordinate System

XYZ coordinate system, with origin point set at 0,0,0


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


a ZTool file saving individual subtool; format native to Pixologic's ZBrush 3D sculpting software.

.ZPR - Zbrush project file

a file saving an entire project, including textures and reference images; format native to Pixologic's ZBrush 3D sculpting software.

.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?

3D FULA is an ongoing project that aims to gather most useful file formats in 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing.

Help it grow by submitting suggestions or definitions for existing entries.

Suggestions? Corrections?



3D Printing, Explained.

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