In this article, we’ll explain what an Best STL Editors is, how to edit one, and which STL editors are the best. We’ll cover everything from beginner-friendly programmes to fully-featured CAD tools, as well as free STL editors for the frugal builders out there.
The Best STL Editors In 2023
In this article, you can know about The Best STL Editors In 2023 here are the details below;
An STL file is what?
The Standard Triangle Language (STL) file format, also referred to as Stereolithography, Standard Tessellation Language, and Standard Triangle Language, was created by 3D Systems in 1987 for the first batch of the company’s commercial 3D printers and the associated native stereolithography CAD software.
The goal was to develop a file format that would serve as an easy-to-output 3D CAD model for a 3D printer.
STL converts surfaces to a mesh or cloud of triangular faces and vertices through a process known as tessellation, in contrast to other CAD file formats, which contain a wealth of information about a particular 3D model’s intricate surfacing and geometry based on curves and splines (OBJ is one common example).
Texture, colour, scale, or units are not described in the generated file.
By doing this, the model is basically reduced to a collection of tiny triangles that, as a model’s complexity rises, get smaller but more numerous while remaining noticeably less complicated than conventionally created CAD surfaces and, especially, curves.
As the tessellation is more of an approximation than a replica, the technique may reduce the model’s overall resolution and fidelity.
But for 3D printing, these differences are typically insignificant or simple to resolve.
The widespread use of 3D printing slicer software is one of the STL file format’s key advantages.
Since STL files are the preferred file format for 3D printing, they are supported by all slicers.
Additionally, it’s the preferred file format for hobbyists and manufacturers who want to share finished models, items, and parts on social media platforms like Thingiverse and MyMiniFactory.
The primary reason is that STL files often have a file size of no more than a few MB, which makes them rapid and simple to download. Also check tools for project managers
The basic triangular mesh data for designs intended for 3D printing is most frequently stored in the STL file format, but other typical uses include rapid prototyping and computer-aided manufacturing.
How Can an STL File Be Edited?
An STL file editor is necessary before editing an STL file.
There are typically four processes involved, and depending on the editor, their complexity and flow may vary:
In the editor, import the STL file.
The STL model needs to be repaired.
Export the STL file after it has been altered and repaired.
STL Editors’ Main Categories
Two categories of STL editors exist:
1. CAD or Computer-Aided Design software
CAD software is more than capable of editing and fixing STL files, despite not being specifically designed for the task.
Numerous offer STL repair features, which are effectively automatic wizards that do the grunt work of finding and correcting minor problems, most frequently holes, shell inconsistencies, intersecting triangles, and re-meshing for STL file optimization.
An STL file can be modified just like any other CAD model type using the full model editing tools.
You have the same creative freedom as with other file types since you can more efficiently add forms, remove parts, and slice and cut planes, for instance.
Additionally, they give you the option to export modified models as STL files that are prepared to be processed by a slicer tool and sent to a 3D printer.
2. Mesh Editing Tools
These tools, as their name suggests, are made for editing and modelling meshes, which are a collection of 2D surfaces as opposed to solid 3D objects.
Given that STL is made up of a triangulated mesh, they work well with STL files.
Sculpting, combining/merging numerous STL files, deleting parts, fixing faults, resizing, scaling, and, most crucially, converting a model to a solid and export-ready for slicing are all possible depending on the programme.
Many additionally come with capabilities specialised to 3D printing, like support generation, and optimization tools.
The Best STL Editors in 2022-Ranked
Price: Free Operating System for FreeCAD
Linux, macOS, and Windows compatibility
FreeCAD is a computer-aided design programme that is open-source and free to use, primarily for the development of mechanical and technical drawings and models. Also check youtube tools alternatives
You can import an STL file, extract the model’s mesh, produce a solid comparable shape, and refine it so that it is ready for modification.
The choices for sculpting and editing are, however, somewhat constrained.
Basic extrusions and holes can be added, but more artistic modelling is essentially out of the question.
As a result, it mostly serves as a method for improving a technical object or component.
A thorough mesh repair tool that prepares a mesh for 3D printing is FreeCAD’s most intriguing feature when it comes to STL files.
The programme examines a mesh for inconsistencies based on a variety of user-defined variables, such as orientation, duplicate points, degraded faces, and more, and then goes about fixing them with only a few clicks.
Linux, macOS, and Windows compatibility
A picture of the active MeshLabs programme
An open-source programme called MeshLab is made to edit, render, examine, texture, and perform other operations on triangular meshes for a number of uses, including 3D printing.
MeshLab excels at merging two or more STL files and fixing mesh for 3D printing, while having essentially limited modelling capabilities and no option to integrate new objects.
You can use it to eliminate faces, reduce geometric complexity, flatten the underside of models to increase first-layer adhesion, form inner shells, patch gaps and holes to create watertight meshes, and re-mesh models to make the slicing process easier.
A mesh can also be automatically “cleaned” by a function that examines it for any extraneous geometrical elements, mistakes, intersecting faces, and duplicated vertices, for example, and refines the mesh as necessary.
After completion, MeshLab provides STL exporting that is prepared for import into your preferred slicer.
Operating System: Free Meshmixer Price
A picture of the modelling software Meshmixer
Meshmixer, the most comprehensive and user-friendly STL editor available, was acquired and is presently being developed by the company behind CAD juggernauts like AutoCAD and Fusion 360.
It’s completely free, which is surprising for an AutoDesk product.
Expect no future updates or new features because the creator has stopped providing full-time development and support, therefore the features are available “as is.”
Meshmixer, however, has so many editing, sculpting, and repair options that it is superior to most other STL editors in its current and final form.
Streamline and improve meshes
Free-form sculpture using a wide range of fundamental shapes
Without restrictions, cut and edit planes
STL files should be merged.
Smooth and level surfaces
Make hollowing happen
Mesh to solid conversion for 3D printing and more!
If manual editing doesn’t appeal to you, Meshmixer can check for potential flaws, automatically fix models, and even produce support structures suitable for 3D printing.
Free Price: SculptGL
Compatible with browsers
SculptGL altering a ball in an image
Given that it’s completely free to use and doesn’t need to be installed locally, SculptGL is a browser-based 3D sculpting tool with a remarkable amount of functionality.
With a variety of potent sculpting tools at your disposal, SculptGL is a fantastic STL editor if you intend to make significant changes to an STL model. It leans more heavily on modelling creativity.
The intuitive, user-friendly interface of these tools, which include brush, inflate, smooth, twist, drag, flatten, pinch, and more, enables you to precisely alter every component of a model.
There are dynamic topology tools and multi-resolution sculpting available for more experienced users.
SculptGL is prone to errors even though it contains re-meshing tools and the option to increase resolution to reduce degradation as you sculpt.
We advise importing your STL file to a programme like Meshmixer once you’ve finished modelling in SculptGL in order to run a comprehensive inspection to find any flaws and fix them in preparation for 3D printing.
Price: Free (registration required to export edited STL files)
Operating System Support:
For Windows, macOS, Linux, and the Raspberry Pi, a local or browser-based application
A picture of a key that 3D Slash is modelling
The TinkerCAD of STL file editors, 3D Slash is a free STL editor that focuses on convenience and accessibility, regardless of experience or skill levels, making it appropriate for non-designers, casual makers, and kids.
Overly complicated software is simplified and reduced to a simple, bite-sized programme.
3D Slash is the alternative to use if you don’t want to spend hours learning how to use an expert STL editor.
The interface is based on cubes that users may “slash,” openly drawing inspiration from construction games like Minecraft. This adds a healthy dose of fun to the modelling process.
Choose from a variety of simple tools (such as a hammer, trowel, chisel, drill, etc.) or insert a simple geometric shape to start editing after loading an STL file.
Additionally, you can add text, colour it anyway you like, or even draw in a reference image.
There are various restrictions associated with 3D Slash’s simplicity.
It’s not the best tool if you want to fix mistakes or issues because there is no mesh repair or clean-up feature.
Similar to this, seasoned designers should be aware of the absence of sophisticated editing features and mesh operations.
Price: Free Operating System Linux, macOS, and Windows compatibility A picture of the Blender software and a dragon model A variety of software programmes, including Blender, which is free and open-source, are used for tasks like game development, animation, digital art, and visual effects. Excellent STL editing tools are also included. Using a wide range of mesh editing capabilities in Blender, including the addition of forms, edges, and vertices, you can modify STL files. The editing tools also include functions to smooth surfaces, patch holes, divide planes, remove duplicate vertices, remove edges and faces, and remove duplicate edges. Also check Agency Tools
Blender’s modelling and sculpting capabilities are among the most complete available, whether you’re trying to make significant adjustments or fine-tune minor aspects. Additionally, it has a feature known as a “3D-Print Toolbox add-on,” a toolbox created to track and fix any errors that could result in print troubles. You can examine different traits, such as overhangs, wall thickness, and manifold faults, before cleaning and transforming the mesh in preparation for export. Beginners will likely be intimidated by Blender’s intricacy and feature richness and will have to invest a lot of time studying the program’s ins and outs. However, once Blender has been learned, there isn’t much it can’t do to enhance STL files or other 3D modelling and design files.
- Price: $120 per year for the whole professional suite or a limited free version.
- Running System
- Compatible with browsers
An example of an STL file being imported into SketchUp A popular free 3D modelling programme with a gentle learning curve and user-friendly interface that nevertheless offers a wide variety of modelling tools is called SketchUp. With the ability to join faces on the same plane, orient and move vertices, and delete triangles as needed, SketchUp imports and exports STL files with ease.
SketchUp is best suited for modest adjustments as a result of the lack of creative features, such as the ability to add solid objects or shapes. A more powerful application, such as Blender, is preferable if you want to be able to make extensive alterations to an STL model.
Inspecting and fixing potential flaws with the inspector tool in SketchUp will prepare the model for 3D printing. Although it wasn’t specifically created with STL files in mind, it does a good job of removing issues that could cause prints to fail. Even though the procedure isn’t quite as efficient as it is with other programmes, SketchUp nonetheless handles STL files that are full of errors.