Lightwave measurements + Preform


I’m wondering if any of you are using Lightwave 3d Modeler to create your models and STL files, and perhaps one of you can help me with the measurement changes Preform does to load the model.

When I create a model (for instance a simple cube (1cm x 1cm x 1cm)), preform opens the model and resizes the cube to 2cm x 2cm x 2cm according to the Preform grid because the model it loads is waaay to small to print.

When looking at the scale, it says it scaled the cube 2000x it’s original size, which is strange because I created it in Lightwave with the exact measurements of 1cm x 1cm x 1cm. Lightwave can even be accurate in micron levels…

Normally you would say, wel scale the model to 1m x 1m x 1m in lightwave which would be the same as 1cm in Preform, however, when loading anything else than a cube, it scales it differently. I had a cilinder-type shape which was 1cm in diameter and was scaled up 1538x which was exactly 2cm in diameter according to the preform grid.

Very confusing. Perhaps there is a way to make it easier to scale models so that preform imports them without having to scale them.


PreForm recognizes millimeters and inches. Does Lightwave allow you to export with those dimensions?

Unfortunatly I don’t know for sure, Craig. It’s a plugin which was made by a user, not Lightwave itself and can export to STL with very little settings to change. I’ll have to look into that!

I use Lightwave with my Form 1.

My experience is that when exporting from LightWave, you want to choose the ‘Z-up’ and ‘mm’ options when exporting your .stl. The object then opens in Preform with the expected orientation and scale.

Hope this helps.


Oh, I should have mentioned that I use the native .stl exporter. I haven’t used any third party .stl exporters for Lightwave so I’m not sure if the same settings will apply.

Which version of Lightwave are you using? The native exporter, has worked well for me and the Form 1.

Why not just export obj?

Hi Dennis,
I’m using lightwave 11.5 with this plugin:

I can’t find the original .stl exporter. I can only export collada, fbx or obj.

And Jason, I seem to encounter integrity issues when opening .obj in preform which I don’t have with the stl. Apart from that exporting as .obj flips the mirrors everything which is annoying with text.

Thanks for the help though! Wondering where the original exporter is located now…

There is a free online tool for fixing broken models powered by nettfab:

I use it all the time.

Are you in Modeler or Layout? If you’re in Modeler, the .stl exporter is in the I/O tab, listed under Export. If you’re in Layout, it’s under Modeling Tools, listed under Export.

If you don’t see it at all, try changing your Menu settings to Default–this is the only menu preset that includes all of the latest tools for Lightwave, including the .stl exporter. If you still don’t see it, then you probably need to rescan your plug-ins or rebuild your config files. (If you’re still having issues at this point, I would ask at the Lightwave forums since we’re straying into a whole other discussion.)

Update: Just checked the Lightwave wiki and noticed that the native .stl exporter was introduced when Lightwave 11.6 came out over a year ago. You should download the latest update (11.6.3). You’ll find it in your user account.

Hope this helps. :slight_smile:


Ahh, that’s why. I’ll update the software then! Thanks! And Jason as well. That seems like a handy tool!

FYI, PreForm also uses Netfabb to repair meshes, so I’m not sure if that site will make a difference. Have you seen it repair models that PreForm has trouble fixing?

No I haven’t Matt. You are absolutely right. I’ve tried repairing a few models, but the Preform software still tells me it has integrity issues. Although I’m not 100% sure what Preform means by that., but I guess the chances of a succesful print won’t be improved ;). I’m trying a print that has integrity issues as we speak. If I ask Preform to repair it, it doesn’t load the model at all. I just get an empty grid. So I’ll see what happens

The link I posted I use to fix models with intersecting surfaces before I shell them, so I use it as part of the modelling process, rather than a simple fixing tool.

For kicks try exporting an obj instead of an stl. From what I remember Lightwave was always a little quirky on exporting files out. There is the chance that the size isn’t being included in the stl file.

You can resize the file within PreForm and specify hard measurements. I do that for anything I have generated in 3dCoat because 3dCoat uses voxels so file sizes aren’t precise.

thanks, but unfortunatly exporting as .obj doesn’t seem to work either. I think you’re right that Lightwave doesn’t include size in the exporting. If I make a cube 1x1x1 cm, I have to resize it factor 1000 for it to be 1x1x1 cm in Preform. However, creating a cube of 1x1x1 m in lightwave (which is factor 1000) doesn’t make any difference. It still has to resize it in order because it’s too small in lightwave.

Thanks for the help though!. I’ll be using Netfabb to get what I want untill I update my software!

I think you should be able to resize the stl in Meshlabs which is free.

Ultimate Unwrap 3d also allows scaling but it’s not free.

Are you still having trouble using the native .stl exporter? Just wondering because it works fine here… The native exporter will also check the model for potential problems and offer to fix them.


Hey Dennis,
I haven’t updated to 11.6 yet, so I don’t have the native stl exporter… I guess I should to solve all problems. Thanks

I use Lightwave 9.6. I haven’t paid to upgrade to the newest version yet since I have mostly been using the modeler tools and haven’t really been using Layout in a long while. I set my units to inches and I did notice the scale not translating properly as well so I ended up just building a bounding box that’s the same size as the build area in the preform. It’s a good way to do a quick check to see how big your object will be when it’s loaded up into the preform software.

Build Size

I find it pretty useful. Hope this is helpful.