Following up a comment on this question, as part of some image, I want to make a tubular shape and export it for 3d printing like here:

curve = ParametricPlot3D[{a^2, (1 - a)^2, 2*a*(1 - a)}, {a, 0, 1}] /. Line -> (Tube[#, 0.02] &)
Export ["test1.stl", curve]

This works. Now, in a bigger design I need to rotate the curve, so I do this:

curve2 = Graphics3D[Rotate[First@Show[curve],ArcCos[1/Sqrt[3]], {1, -1, 0}, {0, 0, 0}]]
Export["test2.stl", curve2]

which displays the curve rotated, but export now fails:

Export::nodta: "Graphics3D contains no data that can be exported to the \!\(\"STL\"\) format. "

and in indeed, in the bigger design the curve is displayed correctly, but on stl export everything but curve is exported.

  • $\begingroup$ My experience is that conversion of Rotate and maybe other geometric transformations is not (yet) fully supported. $\endgroup$
    – Michael E2
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 13:46

1 Answer 1


I'm surprised that the first example works. There is an issue with converting Tube objects to MeshRegion objects, and in fact DiscretizeGraphics fails on curve1 and curve2 alike. You can use the trick from this page, to convert to a MeshRegion before export as STL.

<< "http://pastebin.com/raw/FQXgqhn3" (*Import the TubeMesh function from pastebin*)

curve2 = Graphics3D[
     ParametricPlot3D[{a^2, (1 - a)^2, 2*a*(1 - a)}, {a, 0, 1}], 
    ArcCos[1/Sqrt[3]], {1, -1, 0}, {0, 0, 0}]];
path = First@Cases[Normal@curve2, Line[l_] :> l, Infinity];
tube = TubeMesh[path, 1/50]

Mathematica graphics

If you still want to combine this with other Graphics3D objects, you can extract the polygons, and what you have is just like the original curve2 from the OP, except that it can be exported to STL easily

curve2G3D = 
 Graphics3D[{ColorData[97][1], EdgeForm[None], 
   MeshPrimitives[TubeMesh[path, 1/50], 2]}]

Mathematica graphics

  • $\begingroup$ Ahem. ;) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ @J.M. - Did I choose the wrong piece of code that you wrote? :-P $\endgroup$
    – Jason B.
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ It's application dependent, as always. :) The old one is more general, while the new one, even if only restricted to circular cross sections, is able to produce (Boundary)MeshRegion[] objects. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ @J.M. - you are definitely right, was just being cheeky. Glad to see that code, don't know why it isn't being fixed $\endgroup$
    – Jason B.
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ OK, thanks. Now I'm trying to figure out how to combine this TubeMesh with other geometric objects in one stl file... $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 8:35

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