Export STL as ASCII or binary?

  • When go to export a model using Fusion 360 or Meshmixer, I see that there are two options. Could the final model be affected by the format chosen at the time of saving?



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  • Dan Hulme

    Dan Hulme Correct answer

    3 years ago

    The two formats contain the same information about the model, but the binary format is much more compact, so it will produce smaller files from the same part but they should work the same. That's to say, if you take the exact same model, save it as a binary STL and as an ASCII STL, the binary STL file will take up fewer bytes on disk. The number of triangles and the dimensions of the printed model will stay the same.



    There are a couple of important exceptions here:




    1. I don't know about Meshmixer specifically, but some tools will have completely different code paths for exporting the two formats. One exporter may have a bug that the other exporter doesn't. The same is true of the slicer, which may have a bug reading one of the two kinds of STL but not the other. In this case, it'll make a huge difference which one you use, but you'll only find out when one goes wrong. This is what fred_dot_u experienced in his answer.


    2. Some tools have a way of putting colour information into the binary STL format, which isn't possible with the ASCII format. If your model has coloured triangles, you might find that the binary STL preserves the colours, while the ASCII STL loses the colours. Whether this matters to you depends on what printing technology you'll be using. Most slicers can't use these colours anyway - and subsequently, ignore color information on import.




    The ASCII STL format is older than the binary format, so you may find some very old software can only understand the ASCII STL files, but unless you're working with such old software, it's usually better to use the binary format. Smaller files don't just save disk space: they're also faster to process and transfer via e-mail or on servers.


    Thanks, fusion 360 have two options, i don't knew that, but when you told more smaller, all model should be or just the polygons create the shape

    @PedroMiguelPimientaMorales I've added a sentence to the first paragraph, to make that more clear. Does that answer your question?

    Yes your answer, but like all this thing 3d printer is, i go to make some testing with diferents files and model and practice and ser what is the result

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

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