Scan Dimension

Scan & Print

Scanning is the input side of the process.  SOL should make your scanning easy, but you may want to do more, or perhaps the scanned model is only your creative starting point.  Once you have a digital representation of an object, there is so much more you can do.

Your Model

SOL scanning software captures the detailed information from its laser and camera to build a precise 3D model of the scanned object.  The SOL viewer application allows you to export and share your model in many standard formats.

OBJ format – is a geometry definition file format first developed by Wavefront Technologies for its Advanced Visualizer animation package. The file format is open and has been adopted by other 3D graphics application vendors.  For the most part it is a universally accepter format. 

The OBJ file format supports both approximate and precise encoding of surface geometry.  When using the approximate encoding, it does not restrict the surface mesh to triangular facets.  When using precise encoding, it uses smooth curves and surfaces such as NURBS.

The OBJ format can encode color and texture information.  This information is stored in a separate file with the extension .MTL (Material Template Library).  It does not support any kind of animation.  The format specifies both ASCII and binary encodings, but only the ASCII encoding is open source.

The OBJ format is supported by most 3D modeling software and printing solutions.

STL format – is a file format native to the stereolithography CAD software created by 3D Systems. STL has several after-the-fact backronyms such as "Standard Triangle Language" and "Standard Tessellation Language".   This file format is supported by many other software packages; it is widely used for rapid prototyping3D printingand computer-aided manufacturing.  STL files describe only the surface geometry of a three-dimensional object without any representation of color, texture or other common CAD model attributes. The STL format specifies both ASCII and binaryrepresentations. Binary files are more common, since they are more compact. 

Most 3D printers and associated modeling software can read the STL format. 

PLY format – a computer file format known as the Polygon File Format or the Stanford Triangle Format. It was principally designed to store three-dimensional data from 3D scanners. The data storage format supports a relatively simple description of a single object as a list of nominally flat polygons. A variety of properties can be stored, including: color and transparency, surface normals, texture coordinates and data confidence values. The format permits one to have different properties for the front and back of a polygon. There are two versions of the file format, one in ASCII, the other in binary

XYZ format -- The XYZ file format is a chemical file format. There is no formal standard and several variations exist, but a typical XYZ format specifies the molecule geometry by giving the number of atoms with Cartesian coordinates that will be read on the first line, a comment on the second, and the lines of atomic coordinates in the following lines.[1] The file format is used in computational chemistry programs for importing and exporting geometries. The units are generally in ångströms. Some variations include using atomic numbers instead of atomic symbols, or skipping the comment line. Files using the XYZ format conventionally have the .xyz extension.

Digital Asset Exchange (.dae), the filename extension used by COLLADA

Modeling Software 

Once you export your model from the SOL viewer application using your preferred file format, you can use modeling software that can read that format to review and manipulate your model.  There are many options for modeling software.  SOL supports the most common file formats, so you can use whatever you are most comfortable with.


Most 3D printing software requires a STL file which then runs through a utility called a “slicer” to convert STL file into G-Code, which is the most common language that 3D printers understand.  The slicer code literally chops the 3D model into thousands of flat 2D layers and provides G-Code instruction to the printer.  Many 3D printing software programs incorporate or bundle the slicer.

The printer control software then communicates with the printer firmware to produce the printed output of your model.

Print Services

You may not have your own printer, or you may want to print your model in a material that your printer cannot handle.  At this point you will need to select a 3D print service.  There are a wide range of options available online, but there are also many local 3D print shops and services that will allow you to upload a model file for printing.