STL Thumbnailer

The rare open-sourced work project! I was its sole contributor, one of my last projects before leaving. The STL Thumbnailer is designed to create fast previews of user-supplied STL files. The previews are simple wireframes, without lighting or textures (limitations imposed by the dependency Node-Canvas), but they come back fast. Very fast. Autodesk’s “Forge API” has a service that provides thumbnails. They do have lighting and textures but they look terrible and take a very long time (usually 5-6 minutes). By contrast, this open-source NPM package returns nice-looking wireframes in high resolution in fractions of a second.

It works by creating a ThreeJS scene, importing the STL, then rendering it using Node-Canvas, and returning the image to the user (in this case, a node developer). It’s possible, using this package, to create a simple “STL Thumbnailer” service in a matter of minutes. Instructables uses this for all user-uploaded STLs to create friendly previews before loading the full 3D view of the model.

Dates: 2016

Explorations: Server-side creation of WebGL scenes, sans GPU

Technologies: JavaScript (NodeJS, ThreeJS)

NPM / Github: Package on NPM and Source on Github

Live Demo: Coming Soon (please enquire).