If we need to edit the STL file, we can reach for one of the dedicated programs, if we want to design something ourselves, we use modeling software, but if we need a ready one, we download it from one of the sites with free files. What if we only want to view a file? Then, we have the help of free tools for previewing STL files. I invite you to list some of the most interesting of them.

Of course, we are able to view the STL file in each of the softkeys mentioned in the introduction, but not everyone wants to “incur” additional megabytes of functionality code, which they do not need. Sometimes just need a needle and thread, we do not need a sewing machine straight away.

  1. ViewSTL (Online tool)1

This is probably the easiest way to preview the STL file. Open the page in a web browser, drag and drop in the window of our file or select it pointing to the appropriate directory and ready. After opening the file the autorotation function is automatically enabled, thanks to which we can view the “animation” of the rotating model, which is turned off after clicking on it. We have three options for previewing the file: standard, anti-aliased, and a grid for building a triangle model. In addition, our model can be displayed in twelve different colors. In addition to the functions listed, we can also see the dimensions of the model and its volume. We can also easily make a screen of the displayed object. ViewSTL also has a WordPress plugin, thanks to which we can place this tool on our website.

  1. SchareCAD (Online tool)2

Another online tool. We can upload a file size no larger than 50MB here. The program reads a multitude of formats, from CAD files, through 3D, raster, vector files to packed archives. The tool works quite clumsy, after selecting any option from the tray you have to wait a really long time for a reaction. In addition to several types of preview, it is also possible to measure distance or surface area on the model.

  1. STLView3

The application is available on Windows and Android, supporting touch screens. It works very smoothly. We can easily switch between model views. In addition, we can customize the program to our preferences, for example by changing the background colors.

  1. GLC-Player4

The software reads quite a lot of 3D file formats. At first glance, it seems quite elaborate and complicated, but it actually contains all the basic functions described in previous proposals. It also allows you to save screenshots and any manipulation of the camera’s preview position. It works very smoothly. A version for Windows is available for Mac OS X and Linux.

  1. Pleasant3DScreenShot

The application is available only on computers with Mac OS X. A very simple tool, in addition to the preview, allows you to change the dimensions and location of the object being viewed.

  1. 3D-Tool Free Viewer6

This is one of the most extensive programs of today’s ranking. It has some very interesting and useful options. We can, for example, analyze the wall thickness of the model, look inside it, make its simple animations, color it as desired, and measure distances.

  1. MeshLab7

The second most advanced tool of all that I described today. It works very smoothly. Admittedly, there are few possibilities to improve the visibility of the model by changing its color or direction of light, but on the other hand we can do much more with it than with the aforementioned programs. We can even combine two STL files, cut unnecessary elements or patch holes in the model. The assumption of our statement was, however, a simple file preview and in this MeshLab works very well.

Łukasz Długosz
Enthusiast of 3D printing, new technologies and computer games. Owner of a shop with filaments and 3D printers - filaments4U.com.

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