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The 3MF Consortium (3MF) released two specification extensions to its 3MF Core Specification 1.1 for general availability.  The 3MF Production Extension and the 3MF Slice Extension provide productivity enhancements that allow high-volume additive manufacturing facilities to better integrate and manage their 3D printing operations. The 3MF Production and 3MF Slice Extensions are free to download immediately.

"The 3MF Production and 3MF Slice Extensions to our core specification are significant enhancements that move the industry closer to a fully integrated, high-volume additive manufacturing end-to-end 3D printing solution," said Adrian Lannin, executive director, 3MF Consortium. "Release of specifications like these aligns with the 3MF Consortium's mission to help improve the efficiency and productivity of additive manufacturing solutions with standardized software."

Designed for high-volume users such as service bureaus, the 3MF Production Extension makes it more efficient for users to organize and manage print jobs with multiple parts by keeping them in separate .xml files within the 3MF package, thus dividing the parsing load for large jobs. The 3MF package manages the file hierarchy and relationships among the files, as well as keeping unique identifiers for each part instance.

Before a 3D model can be printed, it must be sliced into layers that the 3D printer will manufacture. Until now, there was no standard means to define slices, leading to a proliferation of proprietary solutions where the software needed to be matched to the particular hardware being used. This approach increased the likelihood of print problems and lengthened the amount of time it took to prepare the print workflow. The 3MF Slice Extension solves this problem by providing a single, standardized format for defining slices. This simplifies processes for manufacturers, ensuring that they are working with data that is readily understandable and consistent.

"High-volume additive manufacturing requires practical software that simplifies the 3D design and manufacturing process while fully describing a model, retaining internal information, color, and other characteristics," said Alexander Oster, chairman, 3MF Technical Working Group and director, additive manufacturing, at Autodesk. "These extensions were developed to solve in a clear, straightforward manner two critical interoperability issues impacting efficiency and manageability in today's additive manufacturing facilities."

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