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Floating Point Solutions Announces OpenRP

Rapid Prototyping (RP) industry alternative mode of data exchange. (June 02, 2004)

Floating Point Solutions announces OpenRP a non-profit initiative which aims at offering the Rapid Prototyping (RP) industry an alternative mode of data exchange while maintaining perfect compatibility with the industry standard STL (Stereolithography) file format. OpenRP offers the RP industry a new RP file format and free software to read and write RP files. The RP file format is an efficient and secure file format which forms the backbone of the OpenRP Solution to the data exchange problem of the RP industry.

"Over the years RP software vendors have tried to use the drawbacks of the STL file format to their advantage." explains Deelip Menezes, Director of Floating Point Solutions, "They create a replacement file format and allow exchange to the STL file format in such a way that the end user, and the service bureaus he works with, are tied down to their line of products only. A standard cannot be forced on to an industry. The industry has to adopt it due to its merit. Little wonder that these monopolistic strategies have failed to address the data exchange problem facing the RP industry. OpenRP is not another attempt to replace the STL file format. The industry standard file format is, and for the foreseeable future, will be the STL file format. OpenRP simply offers an alternative means of efficient and secure data exchange from one party to another".

There are two main problems with the STL file format:

(1) Large File Size
The STL file format employs inefficient methods of data storage. This coupled with storage of redundant data greatly increases the size of the STL file, thereby causing problems in transmitting data, especially through the internet. Large STL files result in a waste of resources such as storage space, bandwidth and most important - time.

(2) No Security
The STL file format does not have any inbuilt security mechanism. A STL file is usually created from a NURBS model, to be shared with another party. At the time when the STL file format was created, proliferation of STL models was not considered an issue as it was considered impossible to extract the underlying NURBS model from its STL file. Not any more. In these days of excellent reverse engineering software, proliferation of STL files can amount to immeasurable losses to business. Moreover, RP service bureaus store STL files on their servers as part of their online quoting systems. This leaves valuable STL data vulnerable to theft from hackers and the like.

The OpenRP Solution attempts to solve these two problems.

Solution to the size problem
An RP file is created from a STL file (ASCII or binary) and contains exactly the same geometric data as that of the STL file. The data in a RP file is compressed using advanced compression algorithms. This reduces the file size considerably. When compared to its ASCII STL counterpart, a RP file is compressed to a whooping 97%. In case of a binary STL file the compression is 90%. In either case, the compression in a RP file is much more than that achieved if the STL file was zipped using WinZip or any other similar compression program.

Solution to the security problem
The RP file format has two levels of security: file and user level. At the file level, the RP file is encrypted using the most advanced encryption algorithms. At the user level, security is provided by means of an optional user-defined password. So if a STL file does reach the wrong hands, it will be useless unless the password is known.

There is absolutely no loss of data whatsoever due to compression and encryption involved in the RP file format. If you create a RP file from a STL file and then convert it back to a STL file, you will end up with exactly the same STL file.

About Floating Point Solutions
Founded in 1999, Floating Point Solutions is a privately software development company having its headquarters in Goa, India. FPS develops software for the Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM), Reverse Engineering (RE) and Rapid Prototyping (RP) industries. Its core business lies in extending widely used CAD systems like AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Surfcam, Rhinoceros, etc. by means of plug-ins. FPS also develops and implements customized solutions for clients worldwide.

FPS has has gained tremendous expertise in vector file formats and data exchange.

For more information visit or


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Related Keywords:Floating Point Solutions, OpenRP, Rapid Prototyping, RP, Stereolithography, STL, Deelip Menezes,

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