Prusa Research has released the latest beta version of PrusaSlicer 2.5.0 on GitHub. Its most important new functionality is the ability to import files with the STEP extension, which, despite its great popularity in other manufacturing sectors, is not very popular in the amateur and desktop 3D printing environment. However, this shift is targeting a completely different audience in the form of industry representatives who use STEP files on a daily basis and, unlike “typical 3D printers”, have never heard of .STL, .OBJ or .3MF.

The .STL format is the final, complete solid consisting of triangles connected with each other by their vertices. It cannot be freely edited – it can only be permanently changed (e.g. you can drill holes or cut it into pieces). Expensive and specialized programs such as GeoMagic 3D Systems are used for more advanced edition of .STL files. An important feature of models saved in the form of a triangle mesh is also the fact that they do not contain information about the interior of the object – if we are dealing with a simple solid, such as a cube, its filling is determined at the level of the program for preparing a file for 3D printing – z from the point of view of the .STL itself, it is as completely empty as it is filled (see: “How to properly prepare a file for valuation and 3D printing – what is the .STL format?“)

STEP files are a widely accepted method of exchanging CAD designs between all major design software. STEP is not so much a “closed and finished” body as a project that can still be edited. By “design” we mean the instructions required to create a 3D object such as “Extrude Cylinder”, “Draw Line”, “Round Edge” etc. The native CAD file contains these instructions, so you can, for example, undo a change by backing up one or two instructions.

STEP files have long been used in the world of industrial 3D printing – SLS methods, metal 3D printing, or the FDM itself by Stratasys. Now Prusa Slicer joins this group. Introducing this feature allows industrial operators to skip the export to .STL step and directly use STEP files they may already have in part designs.

Prusa Research uses Open CASCADE technology to interpret incoming STEP files and convert them into meshes that can be cut in the traditional way. This approach is followed by several other open source 3D tools, and Prusa Research itself used an import code from BambuStudio to start developing this feature.

This is another step of Prusa Research towards positioning PrusaSlicer as a tool that can be successfully used by industrial clients. It is a natural consequence of the premiere of the Prusa XL announced last year and the proprietary AFS (Automated Farm System) system for automated additive production. It is also worth remembering that in November last year the company took over the Czech manufacturer of industrial 3D printers – Trilab.


Paweł Ślusarczyk
CEO of 3D Printing Center. Has over 15 years' experience in buisiness, gained in IT, advertising and polygraphy. Part of 3D printing industry since 2013.

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