Converting a DAE into an STL to check for errors / internal geometry

Before uploading successfully DAE files can sometimes have a few areas that need fixing. They can receive messy mesh errors, or a too small or too large error because of meshes that are not quite right.

Even when the system misses the errors in the initial file check, the order can get held up until required fixes are made. These errors can also cause the file to be priced incorrectly, complicating matters even more. In this tutorial we’re here to help you avoid these situations.

Here I’ll detail how to go about converting your DAE to an STL and using Netfabb to check your model.

Converting a DAE into an STL
It's a couple of steps to convert a DAE file into an STL but worth it to be able to go into Netfabb to check to make sure your model won't get held up in the queue.

First download the free program MeshLab from, then open your DAE file within it by either dragging it into the MeshLab window, or File>Import Mesh.

Then go to File>Export Mesh As, and from the drop down menu choose STL as your format.


Save it to a location where you’ll be able to find it.

Ready for checking in NetFabb
Netfabb is a great (free!) program. You can download it here: The main features that I find the most useful  for basic checks (especially of files that start off as DAE files) are the cuts feature (to take a look inside the model) and the size conversion feature.

Three other very useful tools are the wall thickness measurement tool, tool to flip inverted normals and last but by no means least the automatic repair. For these last three features take a look at Rich’s tutorial Self-check your 3D designs with Netfabb.

Once it’s downloaded double click on your STL file.

Checking the size
DAE files sometimes convert to an STL in the units of inches, thus making the dimensions off if you’re working in cm or mm, but don’t worry, it’s a quick fix.

Just go to the Parts menu > Convert Units. Inches to mm will convert a part in Inches into Millimeters and visa versa.


Checking for Internal Geometry

Internal geometry pretty much means that you want a solid object, but that there are extra faces/triangles within that object that weren’t removed during modeling.

To check for internal geometry Netfabb has a great tool called the Cuts tool.

You can go through the model from the x, y or z direction to see where edges are. For a solid object there should only be a line around the outside of the entire model.

If there are more lines showing geometry within, then those areas will need to be removed.

*Note that the giant exclamation point shows up when there’s something wrong within the model.

Please feel free to ask for clarification on any portion of this tutorial by emailing us at service (at) ponoko (dot) com

Christina Westbrook
Service Team | Ponoko

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