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September/October 2011
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Data Exchange Format

The additive manufacturing industry will greatly benefit from a new ASTM International standard that will allow computer-aided design programs, scanners and 3D graphical editors to communicate with 3D printers and additive manufacturing equipment. The standard will answer the growing need within the industry for a standard interchange file format that can work with features such as color, texture, material, substructure and other properties of a fabricated target object.

The new standard, F2915, Specification for Additive Manufacturing File Format (AMF), was developed by Subcommittee F42.04 on Design, part of ASTM International Committee F42 on Additive Manufacturing Technologies.

“As additive manufacturing technology is quickly evolving from producing primarily single-material, homogeneous shapes to producing multi-material geometries in full color with functionally graded materials and microstructures, there is a growing need for a standard interchange file format that can support these features,” says Hod Lipson, Ph.D., associate professor, Cornell University, and an F42.04 member. “F2915 is XML-based, covers these new capabilities and allows for expansion.”

According to Lipson, F2915 will provide engineers, architects, artists and anyone involved in 3D design and printing to seamlessly transition from design to physical printed object, independent of the specific software or printer hardware being used.

“This is similar to the PDF file format that allows any document to be viewed and printed regardless of the display and printer being used,” says Lipson. “The availability of such a standard is key to growth of the additive manufacture industry and the proliferation of new applications.”

Lipson notes that geometric design software vendors and 3D printer manufacturers will be the primary users of F2915, but he also says that anyone involved in the design, aggregation, fabrication and consumption of 3D objects using new additive manufacturing technologies would benefit from the use of the new standard.

A related website for F2915 contains files, documentation and forums.

CONTACT

Technical Information: Hod Lipson, Ph.D., Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

Phone: 607-255-1686

ASTM Staff: Pat Picariello

Phone: 610-832-9720