Reducing the file size for 3D printing

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Reducing the file size for 3D printing

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Working with 3D CAD models can be trouble sometimes due to large file sizes which also makes it difficult for 3D printing. If a file is very heavy (say more than 100MB), it will be take a long time to slice the file or in some cases slicing program can crash also. The best way to overcome this issue is to reduce the file size without compromising the quality that you need.

But firstly, let’s understand why the file size is too heavy. STL files, generally used for 3D printing, comprises of mesh in the form of triangles. The number of triangles are responsible for quality and file size. A 3D model (stl file) with high number of triangles will have very high level of detailing but the file size will also be very heavy. Now suppose if we reduce the number of triangles in the same file, the level of detailing will reduce but the file size also reduces. So it is recommended to adjust the number of triangles to such an extent that we get required level of detailing while keeping the file less heavy.

There are many programs that you can use to reduce the file size and see how it affects the detailing. The most common and easy to use is Autodesk Meshmixer.

Let’s reduce the size of the following 3D model having 10996 triangles.

Step 1: Import the model (stl file) in Meshmixer. The number of triangles are mentioned at right bottom.

Step 2: From left menu choose Select tool. Then double click on the model and click on Edit option. Select Reduce.

Step3: Under Reduce feature, there are 3 options.

  1. Percentage
  2. Triangle Budget
  3. Maximum Deviation

You can choose any option to reduce the number of triangles which also reduces the file size.

For example, the number of triangles in the above model has been reduced to 8796 from 10996 without much difference in the quality.


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