Wouldn't it be nice to know your 3D model files can be printed even if you don't have a 3D printer on which to test them?

Guido Salembeni is here to help you out via his service, WaterTightMesh.com.

Salembeni has created a certification he calls Watertight Mesh to ensure that a given 3D model has passed visual and automated tests to meet qualification criteria.

"Watertight" is a term used to describe a 3D mesh suitable for 3D printing. Salembeni says his certification process is aimed at making sure there are no holes, cracks or missing features specified in a file which would render it unsuitable for printing.

According to Salembeni, his certification method seeks to address common questions regarding 3D printing from a digital model. He says WaterTightMesh.com codifies the requirements of a model to be printed in 3D. They range from the seemingly obvious, like can a given file be 3D printed at all in its current state, to suggested changes to the model for 3D printing and an analysis of what will actually be printed.

Salembeni says that as many models found online in libraries are made purely for visualization, fixing such models for 3D printing can be time consuming and frustrating. He adds that the inverse of that problem can be true as well; libraries of models specifically created for 3D printing may not have an actual image of the model available to allow users to ensure their visually integrity.

To that end, Salembeni says seeing his WMC logo is a guarantee to the buyer of a particular file that the model in question can actually be successfully 3D printed. Essentially, the service is aimed at providing assurance to anyone hoping to output purchased models that a freelance modeler's work is sound in a practical sense and adding transparency to the overall market by providing "better quality and efficiency."

The WaterTightMesh certification can be applied to many of the standard 3D printable file formats such as: Alias Wavefront OBJ, WRL ( vrml), STL, PLY, SKP (Sketchup), KMZ (Google Earth), 3DS, DAE, MD2, Md3, DXF, LWO, IGES, STEP, SCAD, ASE.

He says multiple checks are made, including a size check for reasonable dimensions, face normals defining the inside and outside of a model, and "manifoldness" to make certain a model contains no holes or missing faces and that there are coincident edges and the proper internal faces.

Additional checks are made to test specific material requirements such as the maximum size of an object and the minimum wall-thickness depending on the production method required.

According to Salembeni, his certification will also root out any structure which has a hanging element likely to break during output, test whether a given model will stand once printed or if it would need a "basement" for support.

So what do you get if you seek the certification?

  • A certification letter associated with your certification number and 3D file and a WMC link to download the certification letter.
  • A note, sent to your email which enumerates any errors and provides suggestions and links to tutorial material as to how the errors might be fixed.

To get the certification and you simply visit the upload page at WatertightMesh.com and fill the form. The service then runs a series of automated tests and manual inspections of the model and then returns the user an email with instruction on how to pay, see the result of the inspection and download the certification or the test results which may include any suggestions about how a particular model might be improved or repaired.

Salembeni says "standard certification" will generally cost $5 and that users can get additional assistance via email by contacting certification@watertightmesh.com.