As the number of software tools for creating 3D files has expanded, so too has the number of file types. Many software publishers, like AutoDesk and Blender, have their own proprietary 3D file formats. In addition, neutral file formats designed to work with every major 3D software tool have only added to the number of standards currently in use.
With all these file types flying around, it’s essential that anyone working with 3D design tools, animations, or 3D printers have a reliable file conversion tool. Ideally, you need a tool that can interconvert between all the major proprietary and neutral formats as well as the STL format that 3D printers require.
In this guide, we’ll help you eliminate 3D file headaches by highlighting five of the best 3D file converters you can use today.
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If you’re looking for a completely free 3D file converter, Meshconvert is a good place to start. As the name suggests, this program is designed solely for mesh files and not constructive solid geometry files. It currently supports around 37 input file formats, including Blender BLEND files, AutoCAD DXF files, and neutral STL and OBJ files.
The downside to Meshconvert is that the file types you can convert to are relatively limited. Meshconvert only converts 3D files to STL, OBJ, COLLADA, and PLY file types.
Meshconvert is hosted online, so there’s no need to download a program. That makes this solution quick and simple for small files. If the 3D file you want to convert is hosted online, you can also give Meshconvert the URL to avoid another upload.
Spin 3D from NCH Software is one of the best desktop-based file converters around. It’s only available for 64-bit Windows computers, which limits how widely this software can be used. But, it’s extremely fast and powerful and covers a wide range of conversion needs.
This software takes inputs in any of 45 different file formats, including most common proprietary formats. The file types you can convert to are much more limited—there are only six of them—but Spin 3D includes outputs in 3DP and 3DX in addition to STL and OBJ formats.
What really sets this 3D file converter apart are the features built into the desktop software. Before you run a conversion, you can preview both the original 3D design and the anticipated output design to make sure it will render accurately. On top of that, Spin 3D enables you to batch convert files using multiple processor threads.
If you’re willing to pay for file conversion, it’s worth taking a look at Online CAD Converter. This web-based conversion tool lets you convert one file for free, then charges just €1 ($1.13) per file after that. Unlike other online tools, Online CAD Converter supports large files—you can upload files up to 100 MB in size.
The main reason to go with this 3D file converter over a free tool is that it supports an incredibly wide variety of file types. In addition to the graphical formats that most converters cover, Online CAD Converter can accept files from Inventor (SLDPRT), Inventor (IPT), Pro/ENGINEER (ASM), NX (PRT), and more. You can output designs in five standard formats including COLLADA, STL, 3DP, 3DS, and OBJ.
If you want a single 3D file converter that can handle every file format under the sun, look no further than i3DConverter. This desktop software supports more than 760 file formats. Not all of those are supported for both input and output, but many are. That makes this file conversion software much more versatile than just about any other tool on the market.
The software itself is also quite packed with features. i3DConverter has a batch input module for converting large numbers of 3D files, and you can load files into the software simply by dragging and dropping. There’s a built-in file viewer that lets you preview the input you’re converting, although you cannot see a preview of the output before the conversion takes place. In addition, you can access i3DConverter from the command line.
As you might expect, i3DConverter isn’t free. But it is very reasonably priced. A lifetime license costs just $50, and the price drops to $35 per license if you buy two or more. The software is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Greentoken offers an impressive range of file support for a free online tool. The platform can handle any of 52 3D file format inputs, including all of the most popular proprietary and neutral formats. What’s particularly nice about it is that it also supports a wider variety of outputs than other free tools. You can convert files to STL, STLB, COLLADA, OBJ, 3DS, PLY, JSON, and X. Notably, though, conversion to 3DP is not supported by Greentoken.
The online interface does support batch conversion, but you can only upload a maximum of five files at a time. Helpfully, if your model is split into multiple files, the batch upload can be used to provide Greentoken with all the necessary files at once. Uploads and downloads are relatively speedy, although the limit of 50 MB for uploads can be problematic if you have large 3D files.