As promised last week, Microsoft has become one of the founding members of the new 3MF Consortium, a group of companies that want to launch a new file format for 3D printing that they claim will solve the "interoperability and functionality issues" when using current and older file formats with 3D printers.
The new file specification itself is called the 3D Manufacturing Format (3MF). The first version of the format has already been published by the Consortium and in fact is based on one that was already in development by Microsoft before the group was formed. The overall goals of the 3MF specification are that it should be:
- Rich enough to fully describe a model, retaining internal information, color, and other characteristics;
- Extensible so that it supports new innovations in 3D printing;
- Interoperable and open;
- Practical, simple to understand and easy to implement; and
- Free of the issues inherent in other widely used file formats.
The other founding members of the 3MF Consortium are Dassault Systèmes, netfabb, HP; Shapeways, SLM Solutions Group and Autodesk. There's no word on when the final version of the 3MF specification will be published. Microsoft added native support for 3D printing into Windows 8.1 in 2013.
Source: 3MF Consortium