RE: convert .3ds in .STL

From: Charles Overy (
Date: Wed Mar 19 2003 - 21:51:00 EET


There are a great many tools that will do a file format translation from
.3ds to .stl. The data contained in each file format is not that different
as 3ds predominately describes the geometry with a tessellated mesh just
like stl. 3ds can have a lot of other stuff, including color, that is
usually dumped when you go to stl. Some translation programs will be able
to preserve the color into one of two (I think that is correct) color stl
implementations. Look at Castle Island or Terry Wholers sites for links to
RP middleware tools, (Marcam, Magics, STL editor, etc.), or look at the
import/export formats of a variety of mid level CAD programs (Rhino, Form-Z

However, the conversion from one mesh format to another may be only a small
part of your problem. If you have a watertight solid in Studio Max (or
whatever else is outputting your 3ds file) then you are fine, you will be
able to generate a buildable stl without too much difficulty. If this is
your case, read no further!

The problem comes when you are working with a 3ds file that was never
intended to be RP'ed. What we find is that Studio Max is predominately
intended for virtual work; visualization, animation. As a result, you can
play a lot of tricks like the duplication of faces, flipping normals,
drawing with planar surfaces, that "work" when rendered but play hell with
any stl translation. There is some help on the Studio Max forum for
designers who want to generate RP models from their files. We have posted a
similar messages to the FormZ forum. These are largely directed at how to
use this type of program to "draw to the RP process" and/or patch holes and
weld faces. They are not directed at translation after the virtual model
has been built.

To assist in the problem of creating a buildable mesh from one that was not
intended for RP, LGM has been collaborating with a University research team
on a new tool that will create a totally new polygon mesh instead of
attempting to repair the old one. We plan to demonstrate this tool for the
first time at the Z Corp users group meeting in Las Vegas at the end of
April. The benefit of our tool is that, similar to many point cloud
remeshers, it will always return a buildable solution. The downside is that
it is less accurate than using the original mesh. Our tool is intended as a
solution for visualization, not for engineering use. Also we do not intend
to add front end capabilities like file format translation, build envelope
positioning, mesh repair, and shelling. The tools mentioned above are
excellent at this.

If you do not get the results you need trying to translate your 3ds to stl
because of significant geometry errors (try middleware like Magics, Marcam
first), I would be interested in seeing your file and possibly using it as a
beta test for our code. Same goes for other interested parties. Please
contact me off list to discuss.

Good Luck

Charles Overy
Dir of Eng, LGM

-----Original Message-----
From: []On
Behalf Of Frédéric Gillot
Sent: Wednesday, March 19, 2003 2:17 AM
Subject: convert .3ds in .STL

Hi list

Does anyone know a software or anything else (maybe a magic spell) which
can convert a 3ds part into an stl part ?


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GILLOT Frédéric
IRCCyN / ENS Cachan Antenne Ker Lann
Tel: 02 99 05 93 09
Fax: 02 99 05 93 05
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