3D Printing: Checking For & Repairing Errors

This is the third in a series of blog posts highlighting what Groundworks teaches patrons about 3D printing. This page will give you a brief introduction to mesh repair software so you can check your STL/3MF file for errors before 3D printing. Keep reading below or skip to another step using the links below:

Why do I need to check my STL or 3MF file for errors?

The “mesh”, or outer shell, of a 3D model must be free of errors. All faces of the object must be connected to each other without any gaps. When these faces aren’t connected, the gaps or holes in the mesh can adversely affect the quality of the print.

A mesh is a way to represent solids using polygons. Polygons are represented by points and lines and mesh files store information about the position of points, lines and polygons.

Mesh Repair Software

Meshmixer - From Autodesk, Meshmixer provides mesh editing, repair, and analysis features, in addition to designing models from scratch. Meshmixer also has a number of tutorials, a user manual, and a robust community forum. LinkedIn Learning also provides a basic introduction to Meshmixer.

Here is a quick tutorial from Prusa Research using a few different mesh repair programs. Of the three, Meshmixer will give you the most control over your edits.

Meshlab - MeshLab is “an open source, portable, and extensible system for the processing and editing of unstructured 3D triangular meshes.” While the number of tutorials are limited, MeshLab does sustain a blog and has an active community forum. Be warned! MeshLab is difficult to master, and there is no "undo" button.

If you want to learn more...

Understand and Fix Common STL File Errors - 3D Hubs' guide provides short videos and quick explanations of the most common types of STL errors.

3D printer manufacturer, Formlabs, provides an overview of five (5) free STL repair tools and a text based Meshmixer tutorial offering 15 tips to edit and repair STL files. Maker's Muse has a an old, but still relevant, video tutorial Fixing Impossible STLs with Meshmixer.

Autodesk is no long developing Meshmixer and is integrating its repair features into Fusion 360 (FREE for non-commercial hobbyists). Here's a YouTube video detailing how to repair mesh files in Fusion 360.

Learn more about 3D printing in Groundworks, located on the Main Library's lower level across from the Lego Lab.

Last Updated 8/20/2022