Will Snapmaker make its products 3MF compatible?


#1

3MF (https://3mf.io/) is an industry consortium working to define a 3D printing format that will allow design applications to send full-fidelity 3D models to a mix of other applications, platforms, services and printers.

It would be good for Snapmaker to join this consortium or to make their products compatible with 3MF spec. That would allow Snapmaker products more accessible with a large ecosystem of software and services.

Will Snapmaker make its products 3MF compatible?


#2

@parachvte @whimsycwd @walker

FYI

Sounds interesting for me. :smiley:

Noah


#3

Thank you for sharing this information with us. @SargentPepper
Your feedback and advice will make Snapmaker better.

After doing some research. Below is my observation.

  1. Popular 3D file format
  • STL (STereoLithography) is one of the most important neutral 3D file formats in the domain of 3D printing, rapid prototyping, and computer aided manufacturing.
  • The OBJ file format, by virtue of being neutral or open, is one of the most popular interchange formats for 3D graphics. It is also gaining traction in the 3D printing industry as the industry moves towards full color printing.
  1. I have read through 3mf specification. Comparing with STL, it has more interesting features, and has good characteristics.
  • Leading company like Autodesk, Shapeways, 3DSystem, etc. are memebers of this consortium. Which means It has a great chance to become popular.
  • It’s file format which was designed to compete, Human readable, Simple, Extensible, unambiguous, Free.

Below are my thoughts:

  1. STL and OBJ will be the most widely used file format in 3D Printing for a long time, at least for entry level(consumer vs industrial) 3D Printer.
  2. 3D Model design software needs to adapt first. here is a file format matrix from post
    image
  3. Another story I want to share: In web standard movement, xhtml was considered as next generation of html4. But html5 win instead of xhmtl, although it has good characteristics.
  • In a word, Risks exist to adopt new standard too early.

We are working hard to become better company and eventually want to lead this innovation. But for now, We have limit resource, I think we can’t take that risk to embrace this spec in this early stage. Looking forward to hear you back.

Bests,
David


#4

Hi David,

Thank you for your thoughtful answer.

In my opinion this is not matter of choosing one file format vs another, it is about be part of an ecosystem.

You’re right, STL and OBJ are widely used file format for 3D printing, but also means that customers have to install new software in their computers to use the 3D printer. In the other hand, adhering to the 3MF specs would allow Snapmaker to:

  • provide 3D software out-of-the-box (no need to install anything) for the 700 million Windows 10 customers. Windows 10 comes with 3D Builder App that is* targeted to the same market segment that Snapmaker targets its products (enthusiasts, hobbyists and consumer entry-level). Take a look at Microsoft’s 3D Printing webpage for more info (https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/hardware/3d-print/windows-3d-printing)

  • allow Snapmaker customers to use Windows 3D APIs (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/uwp/api/windows.graphics.printing3d) to create their own 3D apps and workflows using Snapmaker products

  • put Snapmaker 3-in-1 to compete in same footing as other 3D printers in the market. For example, anyone buying printers listed at https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/hardware/3d-print/printing-partners is already taking the benefits of using 3D Builder App or writing their own apps.

  • decrease Snapmaker development costs. As you’ve mentioned, Snapmaker (just like any other company) have limited resources and plans very well where should spend that resources. Making Snapmaker 3-in-1 a 3D printer compatible with Windows 10 would relief Snapmaker from building its own 3D software package. Snapmaker could focus on building innovations instead of rebuilding another 3D software package based on other open source software packages. Take a look at https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=394375 . This package contains:

    • Driver model for 3D manufacturing devices
    • Support for Windows apps and extensions for 3D devices
    • Job spooling and queuing support
    • Keywords for modeling device capabilities
    • API for apps to submit 3D manufacturing jobs to your 3D printer

Thanks,

SargentPepper

* Full disclosure: I’m a Microsoft employee, but my use of Snapmaker products and services are not related to my job. My opinions in this message/forum are personal and are not associated in any way, shape or form with Microsoft. I do not work in the 3D Builder team.
I don’t work on 3D Builder app team


#5

One problem with that: you’d leave out all the Mac users. If standards are going to be used, then they need to be applied equally to the major operating systems.


#6

Making Snapmaker products compatible with 3MF is about joining an ecosystem. It does not mean that customers running operational systems that didn’t join the consortium (yet) would be left on the dark.

Actually it could bring even more customers to the table. Think about it, Apple has the resources to join the consortium and to jump at the 3D bandwagon at any time. Apple just need to want to. Alternatively, building a MacOS driver is a well documented task that would not be that different from writing a Windows driver. Moreover, given how much Google likes open standards, it might be possible that Google also join the consortium and bring Android customers to the table as well.

Keeping a 3D software package development is expensive. Take for example Simplify3D. In order to stay in the business, they charge USD 149 per license. Another example, is Ultimaker (the creator of Cura). They can afford not charging for its software because their business model. By the way, Snapmaker3D takes a piggyback on some Cura components (like the slicer). Incorporating parts of Cura into Snapmaker3D was a good strategy that saved Snapmaker a considerable amount of money. Finally, Ultimaker is also member of the 3MF consortium.

The bottom line is, building a driver for a 3D printer for Windows (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/drivers/3dprint/index) would relief Snapmaker resources to focus in other innovations while expanding Snapmaker footprint.