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This tutorial provides a step-by-step overview on how to convert a .dae, .x3d or .wrl into a .stl file using Meshlab and Netfabb. In addition, it covers how to check your file for printability and fix some of the most frequent problems.
Before we get started please download and install the following 2 software programs. You will need these along the way.
This is a software program which can open and convert several file types.
This is a free program which can edit stls. It can open a stl and shows basic failures on a model. It also has the basic features to edit a stl like analyze, scaling, measuring and repair.
If you have a .dae, .wrl or .X3D you need to convert this into a stl to be able to fix it. If you already have a .stl, please proceed to the next step.
Once the programs are installed please open your model in Meshlab. To do this: Open Meshlab by clicking meshlab.exe > Press ctrl +o > brows your file> select your file > press open.
Now to create a stl, save the file as a stl file.To do this: File > save as… > Files of types set to “STL File Format (*.stl)” > Brows the correct location > Press save.
(saving menu of meshlab)
Once saved, your stl is finished.
Now that you have a stl of your model please open it in Netfabb. This program has a few basic features which you can see in the screen below. All information and features that are useful are pointed out and will be explained step by step.
(interface of netfabb)
You can rotate your model by pressing and holding your right mouse button and then dragging your mouse around your model. To reset your point of view, you have 7 perspective buttons. The first one will show the basic 3D perspective. The other 6 represent a side of the bounding box around your model.
Ways to zoom
To zoom in and out of your model, you can use the scroll wheel on your mouse. These buttons are made to zoom without a scroll wheel. From left to right you have: Zoom to fit, Zoom to fit of select part (green part), Zoom to platform, Zoom to all and the last one is zoom to selected area. Make/drag a square with your left mouse button to select the area to zoom in to.
This information shows the dimensions of the selected part. Remember that a stl with multiple shells is still one part. Only when you load more than one file or split a part within Netfabb will you have multiple parts. The information show on the right corner speaks for itself. The length width and height are the sizes of the bounding box. The volume is the same as what we use on the website and is a value which you can use to calculate your price. The area number represents the total surface area. And finally you will see your amount of triangles.
Move, rotate and scale
Well these features seem to speak for themselves as well. With move you can move a selected part from the others or from its origin. Rotate will rotate the model around its own center point. And scale will make your model smaller or bigger by the factor you give it.
Analyze, repair, measuring
These are the buttons which are needed to fix your model. Analyze will give additional information about the part besides the basic information, which is already known. For example it will tell you if you have holes, boundary edges, flipped triangles or bad edges in a part.
Repair is the tool which separates Netfabb from other stl identification software. The tool does the same analysis as that of the analyze button but, with your commands, will repair these negative effects as well. The last one is measuring. This will allow you to measure the distance between triangles. This comes in handy when you’re looking for critical points for your minimum wall thickness.
Now that we know what we are looking at, it’s time to know where we want to go to. Here is a list summing up the critical points of stl. If your model passes this list, it’s most likely printable.
Rules which are checked in the Shapeways upload filter:
- Triangles below 1.000.000
- 0 Holes
- 0 Border edges
- 0 Invalid orientations
- Minimum length of 0,2cm x 0,2cm x 0,2cm
- Maximum length of 49cm x 39 cm x 20 cm
- Positive Volume
- Closed Surface
- Orientale Surface
- Amount of lose pieces in a stl is equal to the amount of shell.
If for any reason your model doesn’t fit to the design rules. Here is a way most models can be fixed.
Fixing the size
As listed above your model needs to be between the size of: -Minimum length of 0,2cm x 0,2cm x 0,2cm - Maximum length of 49cm x 39 cm x 20 cm Also have we have seen the button to scale a model. With this feature you can adjust your model to be between the minimum and maximum boundaries.
TIP: When you convert a file from MeshLab you might change the value of the length. For example from 1m to 1 mm. To fix this to it's original size you need to scale your model by a factor 1000. If you worked in inches, scale with a factor 25,4.
Fixing inverted normals, bed edges and holes.
To fix these issues, use the repair button on the upper right of the screen. The red cross will open a new interface on your right.
If you see the window in the lower right of your screen. Make sure you check the checkbox of auto-update. This will make sure your stats will adjust after the repair tool has run.
After you have done that you can execute an automatic repair. Press the automatic repair button, then a will appear in the middle of your screen.
You can now choose if you want to go for Default repair or Simple repair. I would recommend going for default. This will run all the repairs Netfabb has to offer. Customizing the settings of the repair is possible but not necessary.
After you have done that, the stats of the model should change. Finally it should look like:
0 border edges
0 invalid orientation
1 Shell (if you have a single object in your stl.)
More shell’s isn’t bad, but 1 is better. After all negative things are repaired, press Apply repair. Confirm to replace the old part for the repaired one and you're done.
Fixing a red model
Red is bad, if your model has a few area’s most likely it can’t be fixed. But if your model is completely red (99% or more). You can change this with a command. Go to Part > invert normals. Press yes to confirm. Below is a picture of an example of a completely red model.
TIP: Don’t forget to select the part first (seeing green corners of the bounding box of the model)
If you want to save your new STL, you can do this by going to the upper left and press Part > Export Part > as STL (binary)
Hopefully this helped you to fix your own model. If not, you can always ask help from service, Mathijs or try the forum.