|Standard Triangle Language
|Text & Binary
|STL Converters, 3D Model Voxelizer, Create STL Animation, Compress STL, Text to STL, View STL
|Blender, DAZ Studio, MeshLab, CAD Assistant
The STL file format (Standard Triangle Language) is a simple 3D format used to store and transmit a 3D model. The format was devised in the '80s but is still in use today and is just as popular as many modern alternative formats such as 3MF. The STL format is a simple list of triangles, with each triangle consisting of 3 vertices representing the triangles position in 3D space and 3 normals to specify its direction.
For STL files there are 2 basic storage formats: Text and Binary.
The STL text format, as its name suggests, stores the 3D geometry in a human readable text format. The format stores information about each face (aka triangle) in the 3D model, including its vertex position and normal. An example of an STL file containing 6 triangles is as follows:
The binary STL file format is relatively simple in it's structure. The file begins with an 80-byte header block usually containing ASCII text of the 3D software tool or program used to create the STL. Following this is a 32-bit integer field containing the number of triangles contained within the STL file. Following these are details of each triangle found in the 3D model in sequence. The information stored for each triangle is as follows:
As you can see from the above fields, the STL format does not have any scope for storing material or texture information related to the 3D model that is read in from by our STL tools. It is true that over the years some vendors have used the 16-bit attribute field as a means to store limited colour information about the individual triangles, however these were never standardised. Our STL conversion tools do support creating STL files that support these limited color formats, however software used for opening the STL files may not render the model correctly. If you are interested in a modern, compact, 3D model format designed for the world of 3D printing, then please refer to the 3MF model format which was designed specifically for this task.
STL files, due to their simplistic structure, are supported by most 3D graphics editing software. STL files are also commonly used within 3D printing circles to distribute files and print 3D models. Our STL viewing tool fully supports the STL format including the VisCAM and SolidView formats.
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