Tech Tip Tuesday – Working in 3D with .STL

One frequent mention on .STL files is their tendency to create holes in a build job. This tendency is typically corrected by viewing the job with a slicing tool, which may or may not be efficient depending on what software you use.

EnvisionTEC’s Magics software works with .STL files exclusively for exporting build jobs onto our 3D printers.  Magics offers a several functions for preparing your files for successful jobs.

.STL Files and Slicing

An STL file is composed of triangular pieces of data, which together form a three-dimensional object. As the poster mentioned, an STL file does not kindly lend itself to slicing, but then again, it isn’t meant to do so. Most users design their models in a wide range of software choices, which allow the file to be exported as an STL file. Specific software can then check your file for holes using a slicing function. In one such option, Magics, the user can view a job in parallel portions, or “slices,” to check for inconsistencies in the job that may cause a failure upon building.

Speaker .stl file

An .STL file in Magics with triangles highlighted (in green)

Magics can check your file for errors with other various functions. STL data is composed of floating point precisions. STLs have what’s known as a point cloud, which is a group of recognized areas of conjunction. Each of the triangular pieces of one file fit together along their faces and bunch together at specific points, all of which in a single job are a cloud. Magics can detect where triangles don’t meet up properly and In cases where the parts of the job file don’t meet up, the user can use the repair function prior to 3D printing to correct these problems.



An SLC file better supports slicing. Other technologies like stereolithography use SLC files to construct jobs. 3D printing with DLP® and 3SP® however, require the greater accuracy and surface quality produced by STL files with triangular data. DLP®-based technology works using a projector lens which is formatted in pixels, each of which are composed of 2 triangles, making the file and the 3D printing method a perfect fit for each other.

Why .STL?

With STL data, you get a better model overall, with higher definition and fidelity to the original design. Because STL files use triangles to define the geometry of an object, they are better for applications with higher precision machinery. EnvisionTEC 3D printers are a class of high precision machinery that delivers promised accuracy and surface quality using STL data.

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