Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More on Revit export options for 3D Printing

Last week, Dolly Haardt discussed and showed us a video about the STL Export add-in tool for Revit. Good stuff!

A few months ago, on the LinkedIn group site called 3D Printing for Architects, there was some related discussion about the best methods to get Revit designs to 3D printing. Some alternatives to STL were presented as options. For example, Zvi Grinburg of CALIBER Engineering and Computers Ltd., a Z Corp. partner in Israel, posted this comment:

I don't want to spoil the STL party, but the most successful models we received and printed from Revit were those with in ACIS SAT format. I feel much more confident when the model is totally editable. Being able to edit the solid file - eliminates all the architectural typical surprises of thin walls, delicate features, non-touching objects and floating elements. It also enables for intelligent separation which can make a difference between a good and an awesome model. Most significantly, it gives a chance for proper model hollowing and draining, which can reduce a model cost from "out of question" to comfortable.

Now, I don't say that all models should be edited in CAD, but Revit is a good example of architectural CAD that can provide good solid data.

When we receive polygon files (VRML, STL, 3DS etc) we are at the mercy of the designer's ability to comprehend what a physical model is all about. At the alternative cost of numerous iterations, we take the time to review the model and make it ultimately and pleasantly printable.

FWIW, my tool for geometry editing is KeyCreator. This is a pure geometry free-form hybrid modeler (wireframe, surface, solid) that has great control and geometry management facilities and can edit almost everything as if it was natively created.

Matt Mondo from Impact 3D Models, a service bureau specializing in architectural models, posted:

I have to agree with Zvi. Many architects in our area are new to 3D printing and when we usually receive a direct export from Revit, we have the issues that Zvi mentions. It's great that there is an export tool, but it must come with the understanding that it is not a "one click" process where you have an instant 3D printable model; the customer needs to set up their focus (e.g exterior only, etc) before export.

I know that others prefer to take the digital model from Revit into 3dsMax to prepare models for 3D printing, especially when color and texture are desired (VRML export). Some use Rhino in their workflow, which has the added benefit of exporting a ZPR file directly into ZPrint. What is your preference?


  1. Thanks Man really helpful

  2. I am having issues with keeping the color while converting to VRML. When i open the VRML file with Zprint7.10 the part is all black.

    1. My guess is you are working n Revit / 3Ds Max 2014 or newer and that you are using the default "autodesk" material libraries introduced in 2014.

      These materials are know for not playing nicely with any other software outside of Revit or 3Ds Max 2014 or newer (including 3d printing software, rhino, etc).

      See this forum entry:

      The solution I found was to use the Collada plugin from Lumion here:

      This worked for a while but as of a few days ago when I was trying to use Revit 2015 and the newest version of the plugin it was not working.

      I have had some success importing the collada file in to 3dEdit Pro but its not great.