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3MF Consortium Announces Volumetric Design Support – Growing Adoption of 3D Printing Specification

The 3MF Consortium, the organization dedicated to advancing a universal specification for 3D printing, recently announced its new Volumetric Design extension, which addresses the design of an object’s form and enables designers to add new types of elements to their designs and manufacturers to prototype faster and save costs. It’s currently available in 0.5.  The Consortium has opened a call for public feedback to the specification before it reaches 1.0.

Volumetric Design provides an efficient approach to encode geometrical shapes and spatial properties that are based on a volume-based description. Whereas traditional and explicit modelling uses boundaries (e.g. NURBS, triangular meshes) to describe surfaces or bodies, volumetric modeling relies on a mathematical, field-based description of the whole volume of the object. The advantage of volumetric modeling is that it illustrates for the designer or manufacturer when properties of an object vary in space – such as with color and transparency gradients, objects inside other objects, color or material-distribution and composition of an object variation. With the 3MF Volumetric Extension, all of this can be communicated from the designer to various software applications and finally to the 3D printer.

“As the popularity of 3D printing continues to grow, Volumetric Design allows both designers and manufacturers to represent spatially diverse properties. This enables Additive Manufacturing technologies to live up to their full potential and truly revolutionize the way products are designed and made,” said Alex Oster, chairman of the 3MF technical working group and director of additive manufacturing at Autodesk.

The 3MF specification is robust and includes seven extensions that range from core and production to slice, material and property (including color), beam lattice, security and now the pre-release of the Volumetric Design extension for public feedback.

The 3MF Consortium also announced increasing adoption of its specification, evidenced by growing membership and number of products using 3MF. New members include Hexagon, Prusa, TechSoft3D and Vistory, who join 3D Systems, Autodesk, GE, HP, Materialise, Microsoft, nTopology, Stratasys, Siemens and others, totalling 20 member companies. 3MF has now been implemented in nearly 50 products across 38 companies.

“3MF is a great step towards enriching an otherwise unstructured geometry data exchange format for AM. We see the adoption of 3MF accelerating, and this is due in no small part to the ongoing development of specifications to meet new use cases. Volumetric Design is a perfect example of that,” said Mathieu Pérennou, Global Business Development Director Additive Manufacturing at Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division. “3MF is enabling evolution and innovation in 3D printing and only open standards and collaboration make that possible. We are thrilled to begin contributing to the specification and its extensions together with other leaders in the additive manufacturing industry.”

The 3MF Consortium is comprised of leading AM hardware and software companies driving the Industry 4.0 revolution. The consortium releases and maintains the 3MF specifications that allow design applications to send full-fidelity 3D models to a mix of other applications, platforms, services, and printers.

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