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I've found a model on a site that I'd like to use but it doesn't come in a Blender format, so having never purchased a model before I'm just wondering which format I should buy? The formats available are .3ds, .dxf, .obj, and .max. Are they all essentially the same? I've seen in the Add-ons that these can all be imported, but I don't want to waste my money on one that won't work properly etc., so is there a type that's known to work better?

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Most stores offer all file formats for download without restriction once you buy a specific model.

If that is not the case, then do not buy the 3DsMax (.max) file, since it's a closed file format specific for AutoDesk 3DSMax and you will not be able to easily open it without an active license.

DXF is generally more geared towards CAD-like applications (like AutoCAD, FreeCAD or LibreCAD alikes).

If you really have to make a choice either go with the .OBJ or the .3DS file formats, which are some of the most common and Blender as native official importers for both. Collada and FBX should be fine too for more complex stuff including animations.

OBJ is generally regarded as a more modern and advanced file format, it is well supported in most 3D packages (in case you need to open it elsewhere in the future) and also supports the most features compared to .3ds which is more basic and limited, so I'd say OBJ is likely the best from the bunch.

Beware that modern versions of Blender no longer include a .3ds import plugin by default. You may be able to download a third party one from the internet, but it is an additional step you'll have to deal with.

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  • $\begingroup$ 3ds is deprecated, bad suggestion. The most modern file format is alembic. .obj is really old and really limited in features, it is still in use because it is human readable and easy to implement for a developer compared to file types like .fbx or .dae, which have a ton more features. $\endgroup$
    – p2or
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 13:03
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    $\begingroup$ My suggestions are limited by the provided file formats, not in a absolute preference scale. I suggested OBJ as first choice, not 3ds, as Alembic is not mentioned as being offered. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 13:31

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