Making Sense of Windows 8.1's 3D Printing Support

By Norman Chan

A Georgia Tech student does it better than anyone else.

When Microsoft revealed that Windows 8.1 would including nebulous support for 3D printers, the interpretation of that announcement by mainstream and technology press ranged from oversimplification to gross misunderstanding of the current 3D printing process. Xo Wang, a senior at Georgia Tech's College of Computing--who didn't even attend the BUILD event--lays out the best explanation so far of what 3D printer support in Windows actually means. We understood that Microsoft isn't developing its own slicer and printing hosts (eg. Skeinforge and Sli3er, which processes .STL files into G-code), but it proposing a new standardized 3D printer file format to replace STL. Wang's explanation goes into detail about the potential benefits of Microsoft's proposals.