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For anything "real", you are not going to be able to use a "mesh". The best format for this data is a Parasolid, but STEP and IGES are acceptable, as well as ACIS (SAT) and VDA.
The difference is between the mesh (point based tessellation - faceted) and NURBS surfaces (math based smoothly interpolated surface data).
If you have ScanTo3D, you can do more with the stl data. There is an option on import of an STL to bring the data in as a graphics body, a solid body or a surface body. Selecing Solid or Surface does not automatically convert the model into a smooth NURBS surface, it is imported with all of the same tiny edges and facets you see in the graphics body, but you can perform normal modeling operations on it such as cut or trim.
Best of luck.