Over the past week a consortium of major players in 3D printing and software development (including Dassault Systèmes S.A., FIT AG/netfabb GmbH, Microsoft Corporation, HP, Shapeways, Inc., SLM Solutions Group AG, and Autodesk Inc.) have announced they have begun work on a new file format for 3D printing, able to be more extensible for future functionality and able to contain more useful information for the increasing flexibility of 3D printing machines. They call it the 3MF file format.
Considering the .STL file format has lasted more than 30 years (since the founding father of 3D printing himself Chuck Hull invented it), it is surprising that it has taken so long to come up with a reasonable alternative. Perhaps this is why it took so many different software and hardware companies working together to improve upon its simple and easily workable architecture.
It will be interesting to see what their results will be, and how soon they will be introduced to industry.