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How to Decimate the Size of an STL File for 3D Printing

Blog  /  How to Decimate the Size of an STL File for 3D Printing

How to Decimate the Size of an STL File for 3D Printing

Dec 28,2023

Why is it necessary to reduce the size of an STL file?

While large 3D files may not pose a theoretical problem, the practicality of sharing or uploading them may. Overly heavy 3D files may create obstacles such as upload limitations - jlc3dp has a maximum file size of 100 MB.Many overly large files contain intricate details that surpass the capabilities of both human perception and 3D printers. This tutorial aims to address this challenge by demonstrating methods to decrease file size while preserving the quality of 3D prints

Techniques of compressing the size of STL file:

- Reduce the level of detail

Lowering a model's level of detail is an effective way to reduce file size. We can do this by reducing the number of triangles or polygons in the mesh. You can use software like Mesh Lab, Blender, or Simplify3D to simplify the geometry of your model and remove unnecessary detail.

- Adjust the resolution

Secondly, we can significantly reduce the size of the STL file by modifying its resolution. In most 3D modeling software, we can adjust the export settings to reduce the resolution of the exported file. However, it is important to note that we do not reduce the resolution too much as this may affect the quality and accuracy of the final print.

- Remove unnecessary elements

Thirdly, we can analyze the STL file and check if there are any unnecessary elements. For example, check for duplicate or overlapping geometry, hidden components, or internal structures that won’t be visible in the final print. We can then also reduce the file size by removing these elements.

- Use compression software

Also, we can use compression software designed specifically for 3D models without losing any important detail or accuracy. For example, we can use a 3D Low Poly Generator to convert a high-resolution STL file into a low-poly version, simplifying complex geometry and reducing the total number of polygons.

3D Low Poly Generator working page

By strategically reducing the level of detail, the application produces optimized models that take up significantly less storage space. Here are the general steps to use a 3D Low Poly Generator to decimate an STL file:
Step 1: Install the App: Search for "Low Poly Generator" in your mobile app store (e.g., Google Play Store or Apple App Store) and install it on your device.

Step 2:  Launch the App - Open the app from your device's home screen or app drawer.
Step 3:
Import the STL File: Tap on the "Import" or "Add" button within the app to select and import the high-resolution STL file you want to reduce in size. It may prompt you to access your device's file manager to locate the file.

Step 4: Adjust Settings: Once the file is imported, you'll have options to adjust the settings to reduce the polygon count. This typically includes sliders or presets that control the level of detail or the number of polygons in the low-poly version.

Step 5: Preview and Fine-Tune: As you make adjustments, the app will provide a real-time preview of the low-poly model. Take advantage of this preview to evaluate the visual quality and make any necessary fine-tuning adjustments to achieve the desired balance between file size reduction and visual appeal.
Step 6:
Export the Low-Poly Model: When you are satisfied with the optimized low-poly model, look for an option to export or save the file. Choose the STL format for compatibility with 3D printing software and other applications. Specify a location on your device or cloud storage to save the file.

Step 7: Utilize the Reduced STL File: The exported low-poly STL file is now ready to be used. You can transfer it to your 3D printer, import it into 3D modeling software, or share it with others as needed.

Other software Recommendations:

  1. 3dless
  4. MeshLab
  5. 3D Simplify
  6. Microsoft 3D Builder
  7. Meshmixer
  8. Blender3D

It's worth noting that the specific steps and options may vary slightly between these different online services. So we recommend it to browse the respective website and follow the instructions provided by it to get the most accurate and up-to-date guide on how to compress STL files using their platform.

Consider different file formats

However, if reducing STL file size is still challenging, we can also consider converting the file to other formats that are more efficient in terms of file size. Specifically, formats like (Additive Manufacturing File Format) or 3D Manufacturing Format offer better compression and smaller file sizes than STL.

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