Oops! Expensive STL file problem.

I probably said something besides oops at the time :) I had submitted an STL file to one of the 3D printing rapid prototyping services online, and had not checked the STL file that my CAD software had output. What I had intended was to make an array of parts interconnected by some webbing so they could be split apart. Everything looked fine in the CAD software, because I was looking at the assembly in the native CAD format. What I had not realized was that the “Save As STL” didn’t go so well. I was in a hurry and submitted the file for quote, placed the order, and what I got back was this:

STL_File_Goof

Those few little strips of plastic cost about $250! Wondering what the heck happened, I called the vendor and had them email the file back to me. Sure enough, they printed according to the file they received. I finally traced it back to a problem saving the file properly so that all of the components in the assembly ended up in the STL file.

Most good vendors would look at a file like this and ask if I really wanted to print some little pieces of garbage before just happily printing it an accepting the money! I’d worked with this place before and they’ve been pretty good. Ultimately I can’t blame anyone but myself for not checking the STL file before ordering.

So be sure to check those STL files by loading them back into your CAD/CAM software to avoid surprises!




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