Overview
How CAD files are exported to STL is an important process for accurate building of
parts. The step by step process for converting CAD files to STL was taken straight
from the mentioned companies websites.

Definition
STL is the standard file type used by most or all rapid prototyping systems. A STL
is a triangulated representation of a 3D CAD model (figure 1). The triangulation of
a surface will cause faceting of the 3D model. The parameters used for outputting
a STL will affect how much faceting occurs (figure 2 and 3). You cannot build
the model any better or smoother than the STL file, so if the STL is coarse and
faceted, that is what you can expect in the final model.

In the CAD package, when exporting to STL, you may see parameters for chord
height, deviation, angle tolerance, or something similar. These are the parameters
that affect the faceting of the STL. You don’t necessarily want to go too small. The
finer the STL the larger the file is in size, which will affect processing time in Insight
as well as build time. Below is some information found on the Internet regarding
exporting to STL from various CAD packages.

STL Creation
Note: Please consult your user’s guide or the software developers for more
information or technical support. If your CAD software is not listed below,
please contact your CAD software technical support for information about
exporting to an STL.

3D Studio Max
Alibre
AutoCAD
AutoDesk Inventor
CADKEY
DataCAD
Deskartes-3D Data Expert
Google Sketchup
IronCAD
Mechanical Desktop
Pro E
Pro E Wildfire
Revit
RhinO
SolidEdge
SolidWorks
Think3
UGS NX 6
Unigraphics

Download the complete best practices document here

Did this answer your question?