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SCAD to STL – How to Convert SCAD Files to STL

Picture of Benjamin Goldschmidt
by Benjamin Goldschmidt
May 17, 2019

SCAD to STL – How to Convert SCAD Files to STL

Converting 3D file types can be a real chore. Learn how to convert from SCAD to STL using a free program in one simple step.

Convert SCAD to STL What Are SCAD and STL Files?

This SCAD file is a back cover for an iPhone based on a fractal art pattern.
This SCAD file is a back cover for an iPhone based on a fractal art pattern. Source: Cubehero

SCAD and STL files are two common file types for 3D design applications. SCAD stands for “Solid Computer Aided Design”, and the file format is used to describe 3D objects. It was pioneered by a software called “OpenSCAD,” which is a free CAD software for designing 3D objects. STL stands for “stereolithography” and is a popular file type to use with slicers for 3D printing.

The main difference between these two file types is in the way the models are described in code. In STL files, the 3D model is created using a “tiled” set of triangles along the surface of the object. This creates a fully 3D object. In contrast, SCAD files design an object using mathematical relationships. For example, a cube-like object can be described using its length, width, and height. This type of design can be useful for printing objects such as fractal art on objects.

Because the geometry used by STL files is more capable of conforming to complex designs, you may find you want to convert SCAD to STL. Lucky for you, there are two really easy ways to do this.

Convert SCAD to STL Method #1: Using OpenSCAD

This SCAD file of several
This SCAD file of several "cubes" can easily be converted to STL via the file menu. Source: Benjamin Goldschmidt / All3DP

The easiest way to convert from a SCAD to STL file is to use the OpenSCAD. Conveniently, OpenSCAD is a completely free tool that works on all the major platforms. Once you have downloaded OpenSCAD and have opened a SCAD file, conversion is simple:

  1. Render the file using Design menu -> Render or by pressing F6.
  2. Go to the File menu ->  Export ->  Export as STL. This will bring up a dialog box to allow you to name the file.

Large SCAD Files

For particularly large files and complex models, OpenSCAD can be a bit slow at converting SCAD to STL. However, a solution can be found using the Hob3l tool created by zucker-t. This tool reduces the conversion time by a factor of 100 compared to OpenSCAD. In the end, whether you are using a large SCAD file or a small one, the conversion takes nearly no time at all.

Download: OpenSCAD

Convert SCAD to STL Method #2: Using an Online Converter

OpenJSCAD can convert SCAD files to STL by simply dragging and dropping the file into their converter at the bottom of the page.
As simple as dragging and dropping the file. Source: Rene K. Mueller / OpenJSCAD

Converting SCAD to STL is straightforward using OpenJSCAD. To convert a file, simply drag and drop your file to the bottom left of the page. (You’ll see, “Drop one or more supported files, or folder with jscad files here.”) The file will immediately load into the 3D environment.

Next press “Generate STL” and then “Download STL,” and your conversion is complete. In addition to STL files, you have the choice to convert to a variety of file types. File types include both types of STL (binary and ASCII), AMF, X3D, DXF, JSCAD, and js. Conveniently, JSCAD is a fully programmable modeler like OpenSCAD if you’d like to create your own model.

This converter will come in handy if you often model in SCAD.

Access: OpenJSCAD

Feature image source: New Screwdriver

License: The text of "SCAD to STL – How to Convert SCAD Files to STL" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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