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Home > Supported File Formats > OBJ to 3MF


How to convert OBJ (Wavefront .obj,.mtl) to 3MF?


PolyTrans|CAD+DCC performs mathematically precise CAD, DCC/Animation, GIS and BIM 3D file conversions into all key downstream 3D packages and file formats. Okino software is used and trusted throughout the world by many tens of thousands of 3D professionals in mission & production critical environments, backed by respectable personal support directly from our core development team.

     

OBJ

Wavefront OBJ is a little understood but highly used and prevalent 3D "polygonal mesh" file format used throughout the 3D graphics world. Okino, Alias Research and McNeel made it popular in the early to mid 1990s as a general purpose, simple-to-read, storage and transmission 3D file format, especially for the then-new companies who began to sell 3D mesh models via the Internet.

Relatively speaking, OBJ is a rather simple file format but a bit better than STL although similar to the more modern 3MF format.The OBJ format allows for 1 or more unique polygonal mesh objects to be defined, each with optional UV texture coordinates and vertex colors. Material definitions can be linked to the mesh geometry as defined in the separate 'MTL' file. The material definitions are rather simple (ie. no PBR material support) but acceptable, and with varied levels of texture mapping support. OBJ format does not provide support for object hierarchy, local transformations, meta data, lights, cameras, skinning or animation. Most notably, OBJ does not allow for 'object instancing' and hence 1000 copies of a screw would be saved to OBJ as 1000 explicit copies, rather than 1000 references to one master object.

A short history: In the 1980s there was a program called Wavefront Visualizer which ran on UNIX and ran its early rendering pipeline as a series of tee'd command line 'applets'. The data flowed from one applet to another via various ASCII based files - OBJ for geometry, MTL for materials and other ASCII files for animation, skinning, deformation, etc.

Okino knows of the Wavefront OBJ file very well as it provides the one and only full implementation of the OBJ file format and with the ability to consume exceedingly large OBJ files quickly and efficiently. This includes the only known implementation of OBJ-centric 'NURBS geometry' (surfaces and curves) within the OBJ file format (which is little or not used) other than that from the McNeel Rhino-3D software.

     

3MF

3MF, 3D Manufacturing Format, is a modern replacement for the legacy STL (StereoLithography) file format with an explicit focus on the proper transmission of CAD and non-CAD model data for 3D printing as well as to downstream services and platforms. From Okino's long term perspective, the VRML2 file format was and is "just as good" for such requirements but never had the correct understanding nor traction since its introduction in 1995.

Features of 3MF over the legacy STL format includes: geometry instancing support, layered texture maps, multiple layers of UV texture coordinates, vertex colors and extended material types.

History, features, overviews, implementation partners and more can be read on the 3MF Consortiumís web site.

Note: Microsoft Windows uses the 3D Manufacturing Format (.3mf) for all 3D printing tasks.

Please also refer to the 3MF export converter for more information related to 3MF.