[Chimera-users] Labeling 3D structures in Chimera (and saving them as such)

Elaine Meng meng at cgl.ucsf.edu
Fri Apr 8 10:43:22 PDT 2011

Hi Bilal,
The Chimera sessions are in a format specific to Chimera, and are not used by other programs or for printing. 

However, Chimera can save several formats used by other programs, including STL and VRML; see File... Export Scene in the Chimera menu.  You would probably want to save a Chimera session (so you can easily get back to the same state in Chimera) as well as exporting to one of these formats.  These other formats don't include everything shown in Chimera, and only the VRML can be read back into Chimera anyway (and then you would have less information than the original molecular data).  For example, STL does not include color, dots, lines, or text.  A little more about exporting scenes:


Our lab does have some experience with using STL files for solid printing in one color, but I am not the expert on that.  We have a page about it here:


and perhaps some of the other lab members may chime in if they think there is more to say.

I hope this helps,
Elaine C. Meng, Ph.D.                       
UCSF Computer Graphics Lab (Chimera team) and Babbitt Lab
Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry
University of California, San Francisco

On Apr 8, 2011, at 10:16 AM, Bilal Asif wrote:

> Hi Elaine,
> Thank you for such a comprehensive email! 
> We had some follow up questions, however, which we were hoping you would be able to answer. We are attempting to use Chimera to model proteins, and then print them using a 3D printer (ZCorp software). The following file types are compatible with the printer software:
> 3DS
> Can Chimera save in any of these formats, that can be used to print proteins? How would one save the session as one of these? Additionally, I had a question about saving the session in Chimera, to preserve labels and colored atoms. Is such a saved session a Chimera-specific file, where it cannot be read by external programs?
> Thank you for your time. 
> Bilal Asif
> Stony Brook University, NY

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