The announcement that the new file format for 3D printing has been approved by the ASTM F42 committee went live a few weeks ago. The successor to the widely used STL format, AMF — dubbed by some as STL 2.0 — has been two years in development, and the process has been an inclusive one. Over this time I have watched the mailing list that was set up inviting anyone involved with additive manufacturing and 3D printing as well as 3D CAD to take part in the initial survey and the subsequent discussions, drafts and revisions, which at times got highly technical and occasionally contentious.
All of this bodes extremely well for AMF. It has been a carefully managed process that has taken into account the requirements and opinions of a wide user base. Hod Lipson, of Cornell University & Chairman of the ASTM Subcommittee overseeing the development process of the AMF file format deserves particular recognition for his contributions and management skills.
Since the announcement, I have put out a few feelers to see what people that use AM & 3D printing think. The general consensus is that they are excited about it, believe it will make their lives easier and can't wait to get their hands on it. All of my contacts have indicated that they are not downloading it for themselves, but they are waiting for the CAD vendors and/or AM system vendors to incorporate it into their products and provide upgrades for existing equipment. Fair enough, but who's responsibility is it to get it out there and working for people? There has been little filtering through from the vendors as to when we will see it but I imagine since the announcement, which they will have been aware of ahead of time, there is a race on to get it to market within the product ranges. After all, the first to market could gain a competitive advantage.
Now where have I heard that line before ...... ?