It was only a matter of time before some of the larger software and tech companies entered the 3D printing space. That time seems to be now. Last week, during 3D Print Week in NYC, we reported on a presentation given by J Scott Schiller, Worldwide Business Director, Hewlett-Packard 3D Printing. In the presentation, Schiller briefly touched on a new consortium that would soon be announced, which would see many large players, including HP, working together to better streamline the 3D printing process, whether it be for a $500 desktop machine or a $500,000 industrial scale printer.
Today, additional information on this consortium has emerged from Microsoft, and it may have quite an impact on the entire industry. Way back in mid 2013, Microsoft added support for 3D printing natively into Windows 8.1. In doing so, they sought to make 3D printing as effortless as it is to print a simple word document on a 2D printer. What they found though, was that the current file formats are simply outdated. On Thursday, April 30 at Microsoft’s Build Developer Conference, a session will be held called ‘Developing 3D Printing Applications and Services in Windows 10′.
It is this session where Microsoft will reveal a brand new file format specifically for 3D printing. Every month it seems that new capabilities emerge from the 3D printing space. Whether it’s coloring filament via a new process, or mixing multiple materials and material properties within a little doubt that the currently popular .STL file format is incredibly outdated. In fact .STL stands for ‘Stereolithography’ which is a technology used by only a fraction of the machines out there. The file format was first unveiled way back in 1989. That’s even before some of the CEO’s of various 3D printing startups were born.