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Some 3D application can't export STL, Collada or X3D files, or they export files that give processing errors in Shapeways. In such cases, AccuTrans 3D may be a good solution for you. AccuTrans 3D is a Windows-only 3D Object Conversion package that sells for $20. You can try it for free for up to 30 days.
This tutorial will show you how step-by-step how to import a file into AccuTrans 3D, process and then export it to a Shapeways compatible output file.
Before doing anything else, check if your design fits in a bounding box of 35x40x40 cm (applicable for our White material). If your 3D application doesn't support units (like Blender), you can usually use 35x40x40 default units.
First of all, check the list of file formats that AccuTrans can read, and export your design using one of these formats. Most applications should be able to export to DXF or VRML.
|3D Studio||.3ds, .asc, .prj|
|Imagine (Original & New Formats)||.iob|
|Turbo Silver (Amiga)||.ts|
|LightWave (LWOB and LWO2 Formats)||.lwo|
|RealiMation Version 4.1||.rbs|
|RenderWare||.rwx (ASCII only)|
|StereoLithography||.stl (ASCII & Binary)|
|VRML 1.0 & 2.0||.wrl (ASCII only)|
|XGL, ZGL||.xgl, .zgl|
|XYZ||.xyz (ASCII and Binary)|
Start AccuTrans. From the File menu, select 'Open (all known formats)', and load your design.
As an extra precaution, you can let AccuTrans check if your mesh is 'watertight'. 3D Printers require manifold meshes that don't have any holes in them. Imagine filling up your design with water - would it somewhere leak out?
From the Tools menu, select 'Check for Water-tight Meshes':
If you get an 'ok', you're good to go to the next step. If not, return to your 3D app and check for holes in your mesh.
We've found that it sometimes helps to use the tool 'Extrude Pseudo 2D Surface' on your design before exporting it. I'll admin it's still a bit of black magic to me so your mileage may vary on this one.
From the 'Tools' menu, select 'Extrude Pseudo 2D Surface'. Without changing any parameters, click 'Extrude' in the options panel:
Finally, to export your design as a Collada file, select 'Save with options...' from the File menu.
If Shapeways indicates that your design is too large or too small to print, you can either go back to your 3D application to re-scale it, or use AccuTrans to do it for you. In the 'Save with options' dialogue, enter appropriate values in the 'Scale Output Factor' fields (1). The new dimensions will be shown in the 'Scaled Object' part of the dialogue (2):