Why convert the file format from STP to STL?

Dirk Zacharias | 1. August 2019

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For processing in 3D printing, an appropriate STL file must be available. This can either be created directly in a CAD programme or converted from an existing CAD file.

However, the conversion from STP to STL data may result in inaccuracies in the hundredths range. This is due to the different types of surface mapping. The STP format uses a data algorithm that presents the data in more detail than the STL format. This is due to the transformation of the surface into a kind of mesh of triangles, simplifying the representation of shape in STL format.

Therefore, during conversion, if the deviations are larger, the lower resolution is chosen. The other way around, the larger the resolution, the larger the data becomes, with the result that they may not be processed properly. Here you have to be a little bit adventurous as a 3D-printing newcomer or, if necessary, get advice from the specialist. Many providers of 3D printing offer appropriate services and assist in the creation or conversion of CAD data.

Very rough resolution – very small amount of data
Rough resolution – small amount of data
Medium resolution – high amount of data
Fine resolution – very high volume of data

The diagrams show from top to bottom the conversion from the STP to an STL with increasing resolution. The resolution should be selected depending on the complexity and size of the component. Here in the example, the two average resolutions would be sufficient for the printing of this component.

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