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nTop supports the 3MF file format with beam extension

Written by nTop

Published on September 10, 2020

With the new 3MF beam extension export complex geometry can be transferred from nTop to software such as Magics in a lightweight, efficient manner.

nTop users design some of the most complex geometries ever manufactured. While these complex designs can be easily created and rendered in our implicit format, when it comes time to manufacture those parts, the export files can become very, very large. To solve this issue we are constantly looking for ways to reduce that file size while maintaining the complexity, fidelity, and integrity of the engineered design.

The 3MF file format affords us that opportunity by not only exporting meshes that are often ⅓ the size of the dreaded STL file but also by exporting some lattice structures as a beam element which are levels of magnitude more efficient than a mesh representation.

For instance, a full build volume of a diamond lattice structure, with variable thickness, can be exported as a 3,400 kb 3MF file and easily imported into software such as Materialise Magics. An STL mesh of the same geometry would be over 3 Gigabytes with a loss of resolution.

Exporting lightweight beam 3MF files from nTop to Magics.

Beginning with the release of nTop 2.14, users can now export both a Mesh and Lattice as beams in the same .3mf container. This can then be imported into Materialise Magics. Users can utilize their existing support structure strategies and slice without meshing the lattice beams in Magics’ build engine for their machines such as Concept Laser, Additive Industries, EOS and more.

We are thankful to the other contributors of the 3MF Consortium for volunteering so much time, effort, and expertise in developing an open format. This allows our users to better communicate the complexity, fidelity, and integrity of their designs, not only with geometry but also with other data pertaining to the engineering requirements and manufacturing parameters with the ever-growing 3MF extensions that nTop will adopt.

“nTop’s contributions to the 3MF community demonstrate its commitment to both its users and the industry-at-large,” said Luis Baldez, executive director at 3MF Consortium. “The company understands the collective power of advancing an open standard that enables innovation and interoperability while reducing complexity for everyday users. We applaud them for their role in 3MF adoption and their business success.”

Stefaan Motte, Vice President of Software at Materialise says, “As one of the founding members of the 3MF Consortium, we are excited about this connection with nTop. Beam lattices represent a first step, but there is still a lot of potential to extend the 3MF standard in order to create a more streamlined build process. In addition to basic file import/export, we also envision more integrated ways to connect 3rd party solutions into our 3D printing backbone, including API’s and cloud platforms.”

Comparative file size of an STL vs 3MF file from nTop.

We are very excited that we have opened a pathway for our shared customers with Materialise and other software that have adopted the 3MF format. They now have another option to manufacture their designs in an efficient manner.

To understand the export process click here.


nTop (formerly nTopology) was founded in 2015 with the belief that engineers’ ability to innovate shouldn’t be limited by their design software. Built on proprietary technologies that upend the constraints of traditional CAD software while integrating seamlessly into existing processes, nTop allows designers in every industry to create complex geometries, optimize instantaneously, and automate workflows to develop breakthrough 3D-printed parts in record time.