Problems printing your 3D models? Here's a collection of most useful STL repair tools, software and websites for fixing unprintable STL files, plus design tips to avoid the need to repair STL files in the first place.
While your 3D model may look like a perfect door handle or light saber in your 3D modeling software, the 3D printed model may well turn out to be a mess. Misprints and failed prints are an all too common problem.
But fear not! There are a range of STL repair tools — on both desktop and the web — that will help you identify problems and even fix your models for successful printing.
Below (in no particular order) we’ve listed the big repair tools along with what they offer, file types they play nice with and platforms they are available on. Some are conveniently browser-based and, better still, free.
We’ve also added a short of checklist of 3D model best practices so your next design export is 3D printable right off the bat.
15 Best STL Repair (Online) Software Tools (Some Are Free)
|Trinckle||Browser||Free||ply, stl, 3ds, 3mf|
|Open3mod||Windows||Free||obj, 3ds, blend, stl, fbx, dxf, lwo, lws, md5, md3, md2, ndo, x, ifc, collada|
|Ansys SpaceClaim||Windows, Linux||On request||acis, pdf, amf, dwg, dxf, model, CATpart, CATproduct, crg, exp, agdb, idf, emn, idb, igs, iges, bmp, pcx, gif, jpg, png, tif, ipt, iam, jt, prt, x_t, x_b, xmt_txt, xmt_bin, asm, xpr, xas, 3dm, rsdoc, skp, par, psm, sldprt, sldasm, stp, step, stl, vda, obj|
|Autodesk Meshmixer||Windows, OS X, and Linux||Free||amf, mix, obj, off, stl|
|LimitState:FIX||Windows||$630 (Maker version), $3788 (Enterprise version) USD||stl|
|Blender||Windows, OS X, and Linux||Free||3ds, dae, fbx, dxf, obj, x, lwo, svg, ply, stl, vrml, vrml97, x3d|
|Autodesk Netfabb||Windows||$125 (monthly), $1000 (yearly) USD||iges, igs, step, step, jt, model, catpart, cgr, neu, prt, xpr, x_b, x_t, prt, sldprt, sat, wire, smt, smb, fbx, g, 3dm, skp|
|FreeCAD||Windows, OS X, and Linux||Free||brep, csg, dae, dwg, dxf, gcode, ifc, iges, obj, ply, stl, step, svg, vrml|
|Emendo||Windows, OS X||$89.95 USD||stl|
|MeshLab||Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iOS and Android||Free||3ds, ply, off, obj, ptx, stl, v3d, pts, apts, xyz, gts, tri, asc, x3d, x3dv, vrml, aln|
|Materialise Cloud||Browser||0,7 € to 1,5 € per file||3dm, 3ds, 3mf, dae, dxf, fbx, iges, igs, obj, ply, skp, stl, slc, vdafs, vda, vrml, wrl, zcp, and zpr|
|3D Tools||Browser||Free||stl, obj, 3mf and vrml|
|3DprinterOS||Browser||Free plans available||3ds, 3mf, amf, obj and stl|
|MakePrintable||Browser||Free, $7 (monthly), $25 (monthly) USD||3ds, ac, ase, bvh, cob, csm, dae, dxf, fbx, ifc, lwo, lws, lxo, ms3d, obj, pk3, scn, stl, x, xgl, and zgl|
Best STL Repair Offline Software Tools
If you can’t find the mistake by yourself, you’ll need a piece of software that helps you to repair your STL file. Here are some suggestions:
STL Repair Software #1: Trinckle
What is it? Arguably the top German 3D printing service. Trinckle places a focus on 3D printing for business, with a robust web-based platform allowing rapid iteration and customization of 3D models. But their powerful repair tool is open to all online, allowing for quick model analysis and simple one-click repair. You don’t get a detailed overview of what’s changed on your model, just a basic list of how many errors are fixed, but you can download the repaired file in an instant.
Formats: ply, stl, 3ds, 3mf
Visit online STL repair service: Trinckle
STL Repair Software #2: Open3mod
What is it? Supporting a plethora of file formats for import, this open-source 3D model and viewer boasts the nifty feature of a tabbed display that allows for viewing up four viewpoints simultaneously. In it you can fix some model errors such as improper vectors and degenerate geometry removal. The project’s site also claims an update is coming soon (though no determinable date as yet — we’ll update in due course), which will add more robust mesh repair tools for fully prepping models for print. One to watch.
Formats: obj, 3ds, blend, stl, fbx, dxf, lwo, lws, md5, md3, md2, ndo, x, ifc, collada
OS: Windows (32 & 64 bit)
Download this STL repair software: Open3mod
STL Repair Software #3: Ansys SpaceClaim
What is it? A industry-level CAD agnostic tool for manipulating geometries at any point in the CAD workflow. Designed by engineering simulation specialists, SpaceClaim can repair “dirty” geometry, “shrink-wrap” faceted 3D models, alongside other familiar file prep processes such as shell and infill optimization.
Formats: acis, pdf, amf, dwg, dxf, model, CATpart, CATproduct, crg, exp, agdb, idf, emn, idb, igs, iges, bmp, pcx, gif, jpg, png, tif, ipt, iam, jt, prt, x_t, x_b, xmt_txt, xmt_bin, asm, xpr, xas, 3dm, rsdoc, skp, par, psm, sldprt, sldasm, stp, step, stl, vda, obj
Price: On request
OS: Windows, Linux
Get this STL repair software: Ansys
STL Repair Software #4: Autodesk Meshmixer
What is it? The self-described “Swiss Army Knife” for 3D meshes is more than a simple STL repair tool. Indeed Meshmixer is a fully fledged modeling solution that is also capable of hollowing, scaling and mesh simplification. Meshmixer is no beginner’s tool, but if you are looking for a 3d printing tool that seamlessly blends into the Autodesk product family, look no further.
A recent update to this STL repair program has, alongside a raft of bug fixes, taken its capabilities further. Including support for the versatile 3mf file format.
Learn more about MeshLab’s STL repair capabilities in our tutorial.
Formats: amf, mix, obj, off, stl, 3mf
OS: Windows, OS X, and Linux
Download STL repair software: Meshmixer
STL Repair Software #5: LimitState:FIX
What is it? Another professional STL repair software with a significant price tag. LimitState:FIX’s mission statement is “Fixes the 3D models other tools can’t!”. Besides the auto-fix capability, the program enables the user to merge STL files, remove noise shells and simplify or repair meshes. Other STL repair options include closing solids, correcting non-manifold errors and fixing the orientation of polygons. LimitState uses robust Polygonica technology — a standard for professional 3D modeling industry for more than 20 years.
Price: $630 (Maker version), $3788 (Enterprise version). Demo available.
Download STL repair software: LimitState:FIX
STL Repair Software #6: Blender
What is it? If you’re undecided about which which modeling software to pick, Blender is worth closer inspection. Over the last two decades, Blender has become the standard open-source tool for 3D modeling and animation. Moreover, the program provides a solution for STL repair, correcting meshes intended for 3D printing. Blender is not suited for beginners, but if you are searching for an open-source jack of all trades at the friendly price of free — this is it.
Learn more about Blender’s STL repair capabilities in our tutorial.
Formats: 3ds, dae, fbx, dxf, obj, x, lwo, svg, ply, stl, vrml, vrml97, x3d
OS: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
Download STL repair software: Blender
STL Repair Software #7: Autodesk Netfabb
What is it? Undoubtedly one if the best-known and most comprehensive STL repair solutions. The “Netfabb Basic” version used to be free, until the company was bought by Autodesk — which means it is now under Autodesk’s subscription umbrella. There is a 30 day free trials of the full software, but after this grace period you pay a monthly or yearly fee for access. If you choose not to renew your subscription, you still maintain access to all files and have basic printing and prep functionality. The paid features like metal supports will no longer be available, but users will still be able to open saved projects, slice them, and print them.
Formats: iges, igs, step, step, jt, model, catpart, cgr, neu, prt, xpr, x_b, x_t, prt, sldprt, sat, wire, smt, smb, fbx, g, 3dm, skp
Price: $125 (monthly), $1000 (yearly) USD
Download STL repair software: Autodesk Netfabb
STL Repair Software #8: FreeCAD
What is it? An open-source 3D modeling program that was designed with the needs of mechanical engineering and product design in mind. Among the many features of this program is the capability to repair STL files. If you are looking for a tool that gives you a high degree of control over your work – FreeCAD may be the way to go. It can do a lot more besides repairing STL files – check All3DP’s FreeCAD beginner tutorial right here.
Formats: brep, csg, dae, dwg, dxf, gcode, ifc, iges, obj, ply, stl, step, svg, vrml
OS: Windows Linux and Mac OS X
Download STL repair software: FreeCAD
STL Repair Software #9: Emendo
What is it? Emendo is aims to provide an automated platform for preparing and repairing STL files before printing. Therefore it is suited to beginners who are willing to pay for the convenience it offers. However, be aware that similar functionality is freely provided by other solutions like Netfabb Basic.
Price: $89.95 USD
OS: Mac OS and Windows
Download STL repair software: Emendo
STL Repair Software #10: MeshFix
What is it? MeshFix is an open-source 3D model repair tool that fixes various defects in meshes, such as holes, non-manifold elements and self-intersections. Unfortunately, MeshFix is only available for Windows. It is a great tool if you need a simple STL repair, but for more sophisticated options look elsewhere.
Download STL repair software: MeshFix
STL Repair Software #11: MeshLab
What is it? MeshLab was designed for processing and editing unstructured 3D meshes — issues that raw 3D scans can often produce. In general its tools allow for editing, inspecting and repairing files. However, MeshLab is specifically capable of automatically filling holes in meshes. This level of control requires a good deal of technical knowledge in order to apply the tools appropriately. Unfortunately, there is little in the way of official documentation available for MeshLab, but we’ve covered this gap with our own mini STL repair tutorial — check it out.
Formats: 3ds, ply, off, obj, ptx, stl, v3d, pts, apts, xyz, gts, tri, asc, x3d, x3dv, vrml, aln
OS: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iOS and Android
Download STL repair software: MeshLab
STL Repair Software #12: Materialise Cloud
What is it? This online STL repair service promises that you won’t have to “worry about printability issues anymore ”. Integrated into the Materialise ecosystem, you can find a convenient auto repair tool for STL files. Other features include scaling, setting the wall thickness, adjusting the polygon count and hollowing the meshes before printing them. If you register for Materialise Cloud, you will receive ten STL repairs free of charge. A robust service that emphasizes convenience.
Formats: 3dm, 3ds, 3mf, dae, dxf, fbx, iges, igs, obj, ply, skp, stl, slc, vdafs, vda, vrml, wrl, zcp, and zpr
Price: Payment for uploads, depending on the plan from 0,7 € to 1,5 € per uploaded file
Visit online STL repair service: Materialise Cloud
STL Repair Software #13: 3D Tools
What is it? Microsoft’s toe in the water when it comes to STL repair. Using its own skin over the Netfabb Cloud Service, the tool enables users to analyse their STL files according to parameters such as dimensions, volume, surface area and more before repairing the mesh. If you don’t have access to the desktop version of Netfabb but want to make use of its STL repairing algorithms, you should give this service a go. The entire process is conducted off-screen and you get no print preview, but for a free and simple process, what more could you ask for. The only drawback we see currently, besides having to log-in with a Windows ID, is that you can only download your repaired file in the progressive, but still fringe 3mf file format.
Formats: stl, obj, 3mf and vrml
Visit online STL repair service: 3D Tools
STL Repair Software #14: 3DprinterOS
What is it? 3DprinterOS is a 3D printer managing software that wears a lot of hats. To start off with, it is a 3D modeling tool. But among its other features are multiple slicers and social networking capabilities. In addition, 3DPrinterOS is happy to 3D print your STL files using its industrial printer factory. A vairety of web-based apps plug in to this virtual OS, most important to this list is Magic Fix. In addition to repairing it also scales and rotates your file for dozens of popular 3d printers. It supports 3ds, 3mf, amf, obj and stl files.
Price: Free basic access, premium features $200 (yearly) USD
Visit online STL repair service: 3Dprinter OS
STL Repair Software #15: MakePrintable
What is it? This web service checks your STL files for any mistakes that might corrupt the print and fixes them. Unlike most of the free online services though, MakePrintable gives an impressive level of control. You can choose a quality level (prototype, standard and high), hollow and repair the mesh and optimize the polygon count. It even allows you to merge multiple meshes into one.
In the free version, users can repair non-manifolds, flipped-faces, boundary edges and intersecting objects on 3 models a month. For advanced options like instant repairs, texture support, hollowing support and adjustable wall thickness, the paid commercial option ticks the box. It also boasts plug-ins that connect it seamlessly with Blender and Sketchup.
Format: 3ds, ac, ase, bvh, cob, csm, dae, dxf, fbx, ifc, lwo, lws, lxo, ms3d, obj, pk3, scn, stl, x, xgl, and zgl
Price: Free basic access, $7 (monthly commercial access, 10 models), $25 (monthly commercial access, 50 models)
Visit online STL repair service: MakePrintable
An STL file isn’t automatically 3D printable. Small mistakes can trip up the print process, but they are easily remedied. Here are the most common design mistakes – and what you can do so your 3D model prints correctly.
STL Repair Tip #1: Repair gaps in meshes
One of the most common errors encountered when 3D printing are STL files that have holes in their meshes – they are not “watertight”. A 3D printer faced with such a file can’t tell an outer surface from an inner surface. Most of the STL repair tools we list can handle these 3D mesh problems easily.
STL Repair Tip #2: Check for non-manifold geometry
Simply put, non-manifold geometries are identical edges directly on top of each other. Typically this conundrum results from extruding but not moving faces and edges. Non-manifold geometry startles 3D printers as much as anyone else who tries to wrap his head around the idea for the first time. Think about the graphic works of M.C. Escher and you’ll get the idea.
STL Repair Tip #3: Get rid of floating surfaces
3D scanning can produce unwanted fragments which result from structures or textures that are unsuitable to the process – e.g. hair, very dark or very bright surfaces. Scans can be reworked before printing by hand (e.g. MeshLab), but automatic solutions are also available in most STL repair software tools.
STL Repair Tip #4: Lose the thin walls
It is paramount to set a wall thickness that can support the overall structure. Depending on what use you will put your 3D model to, you must choose a thickness that will yield a robust model at an economic consumption of filament or other material.
STL Repair Tip #5: Minimize the file size
Many cloud-based STL printing services impose upload limits on the files you can upload, often ranging from 64 to 100 MB. This problem can be remedied by automatic down scaling (e.g. MakePrintable or Materialise Cloud) in your 3D design software.
Have we missed your favorite STL repair software? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll add them in a future update.
License: The text of "15 Best STL Repair (Online) Software Tools (Some Are Free)" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.