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Top 11 Easy Ways To Edit STL File That You Find Online

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How do I edit STL file from thingiverse or another 3D print platform?

This is most 3D printer owner facing the problem.

If the STL is ready for print, you don’t need to worry about.

If the 3d print file have some damage need to fix. Or you only need one part of the model.

This time, you need a STL editor.

Related: STL File Format For 3D Printing: Everything You Need to Know


Can You Edit STL File?

Yes, you can definitely edit and modify STL files.

There are two different types of STL editing and modeling software.

CAD (Computer-Aided Design) Software

CAD has been the standard for industrial and professional 3D modeling and allows for extremely accurate measurement and modeling in 3D space.

However, the resolution of 3D printers is limited, CAD software is considered overpowered for 3D printers.

Mesh Editing Software

You can edit your STL files using mesh editing tools as well.

Mesh Editing software is specially made for 3D printing.

With some simple operations, mesh editing tools can offer you great features and solutions when it comes to editing and modifying your STL files.


Best 11 Free STL Editors For Edit Stl File

Sketchup

Sketchup include the free SketchUp Make version and paid SketchUp Pro version.

You can use the free version to edit STL files, but you’ll need to make sure to download and install the SketchUp STL plugin first.

How to edit and repair STL files in Sketchup

Step 1: Installing the STL plugin

Step 2: Import STL File

  • Open Sketchup. Navigate to “file” and select “import.”
  • In the bottom right drop-down menu select “STL.”
  • Click on the file you want to use and select “import.”

Step 3: Edit STL Files

  • Use the eraser tool to get rid of unnecessary geometry.
  • Select all of the incomplete faces and click on “Eneroth Face Creator” from the “extensions” dropdown.

Step 4: Repairing STL

  • Install the Solid Inspector Plugin by going to Extension Warehouse.
  • Select the mesh and click the Solid Inspector button that is now available in the toolbar. 
  • The list of errors will appear.
  • The Tab feature (Shift+Tab) will help you check all the errors of the STL file and zoom.
  • The errors can be automatically fixed by pressing Fix or Fix All buttons.

Step 5: Exporting STL

  • Go to File > Export and choose .stl format.

This video shows how to work with STL files in SketchUp:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96SoOkCaT1o

Fusion 360

Fusion 360 is considered as one of the best software for editing and modifying STL files.

It is a popular and important tool as it allows its users to perform different types of operations in a single place.

How to edit and repair STL files in Fusion 360

Step 1: Import STL File

  • Click on the + button on the top bar to pick a new design.
  • Click on the Create button from the menu bar and a drop-down menu will be displayed.
  • By clicking on the Create Base Feature from the drop-down menu, it will turn off all the extra features and design history will not be recorded.
  • Click on the Insert > Insert Mesh, browse your STL file, and open to import it.

Step 2: Edit & Modify STL File

  • Once the file is imported, an Insert Design box will appear on the right side to change your model’s position using a mouse or inserting numerical inputs.
  • Right-click on the model and click on Mesh to BRep > OK to convert it into a new body.
  • Click on Model > Patch from the top left corner to remove unnecessary facets.
  • Click Modify > Merge, select the facets you want to remove and click
  • Click on Finish Base Feature to go back into regular mode.
  • Click Modify > Change Parameters, click the + button, and modify parameters as you want.
  • Click on Sketch and put a center using angles.
  • Go to Create > Pattern > Pattern on Path, modify the settings and parameters according to your need.

Step 3: Export STL File

  • Go to the save icon on the top bar, give a name to your file and click
  • Go to the left side window, Right Click > Save as STL > OK > Save.

Check out the video below for a tutorial for modifying STL files in Fusion 360.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWv2uK-XpA4

Blender

Blender is a free and open-source cross-platform 3D editing software.

It’s probably the most popular free 3D program on the market.

How to edit and repair STL files in Blender

Step 1: Import STL File

  • Go to the top menu bar and click on File > Import > STL and then open the file from browsing into your computer.

Step 2: Edit & Modify STL File

  • Click on Object > Edit, to see all edges of your model.
  • Press Alt+L to select all edges or right-click the edge to select individually.
  • Press Alt+J to convert triangles into rectangles.
  • Go to the search bar and type Subdivide or Un Subdivide to change the number of layers of tiles.
  • To extrude, delete, or move different parts of your model, Go to the Options section and use different options such as Vertexes, Face Selected, or Edge.
  • Click on Tools > Add, to add different shapes to the model.
  • Use different options from the Tools section for editing and modification.

Step 3: Export STL File

  • Simply click on File > Export > STL.

Check out the video below for a tutorial for editing STL files in Blender.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gf38wDM0oHE

Solidworks

Using SOLIDWORKS 2020, you can now directly add or remove features just as you would on a solid body model.

How to edit and repair STL files in Solidworks

Step 1: Import STL File

  • To import the STL, go to System Options > Import > File Format (STL) or simply Drag and Drop the file into the software window.

Step 2: Edit & Modify STL File

  • Determine the vertices or parts that you want to edit and click Sketch from the top left corner.
  • Select the Insert Line and create a construction line where required.
  • Connect the midpoints of both construction lines and then oversize it to the extent that it intersects the actual STL file.
  • Go to Features > Extrude, set your surface and parameters and click on the Green Check Mark.

Step 3: Export STL File

  • Go to System Options > Export > Save.

You can get help from this video for a better understanding of editing STL files in Solidworks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeiCx13jsLY

TinkerCAD

TinkerCAD is a software tool that is well suited for newbies.

This software tool works on Constructive Solid Geometry (CSG).

It means that it allows the users to create and edit complex 3D models by combining simple small objects.

How to edit and repair STL files in TinkerCAD

Step 1: Import STL File

  • Click on Import > Choose File, select the file, and click Open > Import.

Step 2: Edit & Modify STL File

  • Drag and Drop Workplane from the helper section to add holes.
  • Choose the geometric shape that you want to use for your model and resize it using the mouse.
  • Put the ruler where you want to place the geometric shape and move it at the desired distance.
  • Once you have reached the right position and measurement, Click on the Hole option from the Inspector
  • Select the whole model and click Group from the menu bar.

Step 3: Export STL File

  • Go to Design > Download for 3D Printing > .STL

Check out the video below for a nice visual of the process.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Pm8PiRhGvQ

FreeCAD

FreeCAD is a free and open-source (LGPLv2+) cross-platform CAD software.

It supports full parametric modeling as well as several 2D tools handy for drafting purposes.

How to edit and repair STL files in FreeCAD

Step 1: Import STL File

  • Open the program and go to File > New.
  • Click File > Import and choose the STL file. Other formats such as OBJ and AST are also supported. FreeCAD can open other mesh formats such as OBJ and AST as well.
  • Change the workbench to Part
  • Select the model you just imported in the Model window.
  • Go to Part > Create shape from mesh. The object will be split into several triangles. The precision of the process can be changed, but 0.10 will be good enough for the majority of objects.
  • The mesh can now be deleted or hidden.
  • click Advanced utility and select Solid from shell. Choose any object with triangles, click on it and then click on the Create button. Click Close. The object is now solidified.
  • The old shape can now be deleted and hidden. Your solid object is ready for editing.

Step 2: Editing STL files

  • Change the workbench to Part Design.
  • Choose where you want to add or remove material, click on the surface so it’s highlighted.
  • Click Create Sketch.
  • Create a shape you want to manipulate using the tools for drawing.
  • Click Close. Double-click on the model tree if you want to edit your sketch.
  • You can use the Pad for extrusion. And the tool called Pocket allows you to cut.

Step 3: Repairing STL

  • Switch workbench to Mesh Design.
  • Go to Meshes > Analyze > Evaluate & repair mesh.
  • You can choose any possible defect in the
  • list and click the Analyze button.
  • Choosing the All above tests together window and clicking Analyze works like a ‘select all’ option and looks for all of the possible defects.
  • Click Repair.

Step 4: Export as STL file

  • To export your object as an STL file again, select the last feature in the model tree.  Then click on File > Export and select Mesh formats.

You can get help from this video for a better understanding of editing STL files in FreeCAD.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dr1qtaURrvI

MeshLab

MeshLab, as its name implies, is a software platform for editing 3D triangular meshes. It’s also open source, which helps give it a rich set of functions and features.

If you need modeling software specifically for 3D printing, MeshLab is one of the best options for editing, cleaning, rendering, and texturing mesh-based models.

How to edit and repair STL files in MeshLab

Step 1: Import STL File

  • Go to File > Import Mesh and select your model.

Step 2: Editing STL files

  • MeshLab can’t create new objects but it has various editing tools, especially for merging.
  • Merging two models: Load both models
  • Click on Show Layers. Select the models.
  • Select the object in the Layer menu and click on Manipulator Tools to manipulate it.
  • Pressing T uses the Transform option, R allows you to rotate the object and pressing S gives you access to scaling options.
  • Rotating the view changes the axis you’re working in. Use arrows and drag-and-drop functions to manipulate the objects.
  • When everything is where it should be, press RMB after selecting any part of the combined mesh and choose to Flatten Visible Layers. Check the first three boxes and click on Apply.

Step 3: delete a section

  • Click on Select Face.
  • Click Delete the Current Selected Face and Vertices.

Step 3: Repairing STL

  • Go to Filters > Quality Measures and Computations > Compute Geometric Measures if you want to check if your object is manifold. A volume file or an error will appear in a window.
  • If it’s not manifold (watertight), go to Filters > Cleaning and Repairing > Merge Close Vertices, and apply it.
  • Go to Filters > Cleaning and Repairing > Remove Duplicate Faces, click Apply.
  • Go to Filters > Cleaning and Repairing > Remove Duplicated Vertices.
  • Check the file again.

Step 4: Exporting STL

  • Go to File > Export Mesh.

This video shows how to repair STL file using MeshLab:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y3RBqZqBWA

3D Slash

3D Slash is a free and easy to use 3D modeling software that lets you create models using a simple building-block concept similar to Minecraft.

You can download 3D Slash for free or even access the free STL editor on your browser.

How to edit and repair STL files in 3D Slash

Step 1: Import STL file

  • To open an STL file go to Start a new model and choose From a 3D file. You can browse for your file on the hard drive or drag and drop it into the browser.

Step 2: Edit STL file

  • The mesh has automatically been converted into a pixelated object that can be edited with 3D Slash.
  • Select your tool in the upper left corner of the viewport. You can choose from a number of tools to add to and subtract from the mesh cubes in various sizes:
  1. Hammer: remove cubes.
  2. Trowel: rebuild cubes.
  3. Chisel: remove slices of cubes.
  4. Wall: rebuild slices of cubes.
  5. Drill: remove everything inside the limits selected.
  • You can add various primitives to the scene to get started with a new project.
  • Adjust the size of the cubes with the palette on the left side of the viewport.

Step 3: Export as STL file

  • To export the mesh select the floppy disk icon in the upper right corner.
  • Choose Save as STL file.

This video shows how to repair STL file using 3D Slash:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qb5LPWMgHos

SculptGL

SculptGL is an online basic 3D sculpting tool.

How to edit and repair STL files in SculptGL

Step 1: Import STL file

  • Click Scene > Clear Scene to delete the default primitive.
  • Load your STL file by choosing File (import/export) > Add (obj, sgl, ply, stl).

Step 2: Edit STL file

  • Define the big features of your mesh (arms, heads, limbs) with a large tool. Move to smaller brushes for details.
  • Adjust the tool size in the Sculpting & Painting toolbar under Radius.
  • The names of the tools are self-explanatory.
  • To save time you can activate the Symmetry button. This allows you to sculpt one-half of the mesh, while the other half mirrors your changes.
  • When you realize that the STL file’s surface is degrading or you wish to add smaller details you should increase the resolution. There are two options:
  1. Subdivide the mesh: select Topology > Multiresolution  > Subdivide.
  2. Or, Remesh it by selecting a resolution at Topology > Voxel Remeshing > Resolution, then clicking Remesh.

Step 3: Export as STL file

  • Click File (import/export) > Save stl.

This video shows how to repair STL file using SculptGL:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FugZeYN226M

Wings 3D

Wings 3D is a free and open-source subdivision modeler inspired by Nendo and Mirai from Izware.

The software lacks repairing features, but it’s STL editing capabilities are very useful and impressive for such a simple program.

The functionality of Wings 3D can be extended by using different plugins.

How to edit STL files in Wings 3D

Step 1 : Import STL file

  • Go to File > Import > StereoLithography (.stl)

Step 2: Editing STL files

  • The toolbar above the model window shows different selection modes: Vertex, Edges, Face and Body. Choose the one you want to work in.
  • Select the part of the whole object so it’s highlighted.
  • Press RMB and see the options available. There will be a long list covering everything from moving and rotating to more complex abilities.
  • Move and rotate options are rather intuitive – you just click on them and choose the axis you want to work in. After that, you just manipulate the elements with your mouse. 
  • The Absolute Commands option allows you to precisely manipulate the object setting the exact parameters.
  • While working in the Face Selection mode, right-clicking the chosen parts will show the Tesselate option. It will make it possible to convert triangles of your object to rectangles, vice-versa, and other options.

Step 3: Exporting STL

  • Go to File > Export > StereoLithography (.stl)…
  • If you only want to export some parts, select the ones you need and go to File > Export Selected > StereoLithography (.stl)…

Here’s a tutorial covering the first steps of using Wings 3D:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTvfkPUIZWM

Meshmixer

Meshmixer is a free and open-source 3D printing software.

Rich functionality allows for various ways to work with STL files – including editing and repairing (the older versions even used to have a built-in slicer tool).

How to edit STL files in Meshmixer

Step 1 : Import STL file

  • Click on Import and choose the model.
  • Go to Edit > Make solid to solidify your object. You can also make it hollow by choosing the ‘Hollow’ option

Step 2: Editing STL files

  • The Select option will let you mark the parts of the object.
  • Pressing Del removes the elements you marked.
  • The Meshmix option will let you manipulate various forms.
  • They can be combined by using the Sculpt tool. You can switch to using more complex forms. The objects can be easily drag-and-dropped and rotate by using colored arrows. more models by switching from basic forms to for example arms or legs. Drag and drop the object you want to insert. Use different colored arrows to rotate or move your model.
  • Clicking on Sculpt will let you extrude or smoothen different parts.

Step 3: Repairing STL

  • In the sidebar, click on Print. It will show various tools for repairing and preparation for 3D printing.
  • Select your 3D Printer from the list. If yours is absent, you can add it manually by providing its specs.
  • Click on Repair Selected. This will automatically fix all of the issues in the mesh. You can also hollow it and adjust the minimum wall thickness.
  • Click Add Support for making a support structure. Change the settings according your printer’s requirements and click Generate Support. Then choose Done.
  • Once everything is ready, click Send to Printer.

Step 4: Exporting STL

  • Go to File > Export and select the .Stl option.

This tutorial demonstrates how you can fix STL with Meshmixer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ECNP3WN_-Q

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