What is 3D Printing?

By Roger Liucci | 3D Printing

First, let me say Welcome!
I hope that you will find interesting posts regarding all things 3D Printing here. We will do our best to inform you of the technology and how it’s being used in your industry. We will introduce you to the best 3D Printers the most interesting applications of this technology. We hope to feature the best work being done by our clients and others out there in the community. Check in frequently and we will post images of the models our clients have created.

Let’s start with some definitions.
STL stands for a stereolithography SLA or SL. it is a form of additive manufacturing invented by Charles (Chuck) W. Hull. Hull founded the first company to generalize and commercialize this procedure, 3D Systems Inc. We are proud to be a 3D Systems Reseller. ; -)
Stereolithography or optical fabrication, photo-solidification, solid free-form fabrication, solid imaging and Resin printing. This is of course only one form of additive manufacturing. We will most likely, from now on, refer to this process as 3D Printing. I’ve read elsewhere that STL stands for Standard Tessellation Language.

The most common file format that all 3D Printers read is the STL format. Now for the confusing part. The STL file format is also referred to as (STereoLithography) and is a file format native to the stereolithography CAD software ALSO created by 3D Systems.

When you’re sending files for Microsol Resources to print for you, please send an STL file to Actually any closed or water tight solid file will work. We’re experts ; -) and can, in most cases, translate your solid model into a 3D Print ready model.

Other formats can also be used;

  • PLY – Polygon File Format or the Stanford Triangle Format
  • WRL – Virtual Reality Modeling Language VRML
  • STEP, PLY, FBX, OBJ or 3DS

Why not DWG, RVT or MAX? we can print these as well. They will need to be exported and converted into one of the above mentioned formats. Please contact me if you need assistance.

The STL format typically does not contain color information. Our ProJet 660 can print with ~ 400,000 colors or pure white of course.

A Solid has NO NAKED EDGES, or is watertight. Watertight means that the mesh on all of the  surfaces is complete, the  lines of the mesh  create valid  elements, and the mesh properly  connects to adjacent surfaces around  the  perimeter so that the volume is fully enclosed.

This is an example of some geometry that is not solid.

not solid

We are just skimming the surface here. please check in again. We will expand our discussion of 3D printing and 3D Printer technology to include best practices, new and interesting technology and the latest applications. – Roger


Published on February 6, 2015 in 3D Printing.

About the Author

Roger, our senior BIM specialist, specializes in all things architecture & construction and has been with Microsol Resources since 2001. He provides technical support for our architectural, interiors, construction and engineering clients.