Prepping an STL file for 3D printing is a relatively simple process with the right tools.

1) Create the CAD model.
Using whatever 3D modeling software you prefer, design your CAD model for 3D printing. Make sure it is uniform and is following the correct metrics for your planned print. When it’s ready, save and export using the software’s native function. You can export it as an STL file (usually listed as either a Standard Tessellation Language, Stereolithography, or Standard Triangle Language file). This file is not quite ready for going to a printer yet.

2) Slice the file
The file needs to be run through a slicer program (Cura is a good one) so that it can be printed. A slicer program transforms an STL file into a G-code file now usable by a 3D printer. You can now view every layer of the object to see how it will print.

3) Send the sliced file to a 3D printer
Now that you have the sliced file, it can be sent to a 3D printer. With time and the right material, you’ll have a 3D-printed version of your original CAD model!

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