Home » Uncategorized » CAD to STL for 3D printing

CAD to STL for 3D printing

The usual steps in producing a 3D printed object is to produce the design in a 3D CAD program and export it as a .stl file … This is because many of the post processing programs that generate the instructions to drive the printer (g-code) can not read the native CAD files. But how do you create a .stl file? It’s actually quite easy, here are a few clues to how this can be done in a some of the more frequently used programs. (note that this can vary with different versions of the software… It might be slightly different in the version you use)

Autodesk Inventor

Go to the File menu, then select the ‘Save Copy As’ option

Select STL from the Types drop-down

Click the Options button, and choose the High detail level

Click the Save Button


Select the STL command

Set Maximum Seg to 0.015mm

Select the model and > select Yes

Select Export > type File name > OK

Creo Elements (pro engineer)

File > Save copy as

Select STL as the file type and enter a new name for the file

In the pop up box Set chord height to 0. (The field will be replaced by minimum acceptable value with smaller triangles for a smoother object).

Set Angle Control to 1


Google Sketchup

Install the stl export plugin http://www.guitar-list.com/download-software/convert-sketchup-skp-files-dxf-or-stl

Open model to export select “Export to DXF or STL” from the Tools menu.

Select “millimeters” as the units for export.

On the “Export to DXF,” pop up select “stl.”

Enter a filename for your new STL file.


File > Save As

Select File Type to STL

Select File Name > Save

Select Binary

Select Detail Controls from Mesh Options

Max Angle = 20, Max aspect ration = 6, Min edge Length = 0.0001


Solid Edge

Open Model & select File > Save As

Select File type as STL

Options > conversion tolerance to 0.015 mm

Surface Plane Angle > 45°

Select Binary type and OK

Name & Save STL file

Solid Works

File > Save As

Set Save As Type to STL

Options > Fine > OK


STL settings: How to change STL settings

File > Save As

STL > Options

For a smoother STL file, change the Resolution to Custom

Change the deviation to 0.01 mm

Change the angle to 5 (Smaller angles will produce a smoother Object but bigger file)


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