3MF Consortium is an organization founded by Microsoft, bringing together leading IT companies producing 3D software (including Autodesk, Dassault Systèmes, Materialize or SIEMENS) and companies producing 3D printers (including 3D Systems, EOS, GE, HP, PRUSA Research , SLM Solutions, or Stratasys). He deals with the development of a universal format for 3D printing under the name .3MF, which extends the functionality of traditional file formats used in additive technologies such as .STL or .OBJ. The organization recently announced the introduction of a new extension – Volumetric Design, based on a volumetric description and invites you to development and testing.
Volumetric design provides an efficient approach to coding geometric shapes and spatial properties that are based on volume-based description. While traditional modeling uses boundaries (such as NURBS or meshes) to describe surfaces or solids, volumetric modeling relies on a mathematical, field-based description of the entire volume of an object.
The advantage of volumetric modeling is that it illustrates to the designer when the properties of an object vary in space – for example, with color and transparency gradients, objects inside other objects, color or material distribution. Thanks to the 3MF Volumetric Extension, all of this can be communicated by the designer to various applications and to the 3D printer itself.
This is how the new expansion describes Alex Oster, chairman of the 3MF Technical Working Group and director of additive manufacturing at Autodesk:
As the popularity of 3D printing continues to grow, volumetric design enables both designers and manufacturers to represent spatially different properties. This allows additive manufacturing technologies to realize their full potential and truly revolutionize the way products are designed and manufactured.
To see the specification and extension, go to the GitHub website. The 3MF spec itself is robust, with seven extensions ranging from core and fabrication to cut, material and properties (including color), mesh, security, and a pre-release version of the Volumetric Design extension version 0.5.