[Chimera-users] 3D Printing our protein

Bart Janssen Bart.Janssen at plantandfood.co.nz
Sun May 19 18:23:27 PDT 2013


My apologies for what are likely to be stupid questions. We are plant developmental biologists and we just obtained our first X-ray crystal structure for a new hormone receptor in plants. We'd really like to make a 3D model of the protein using one of the 3D printers at our institute.

I've been trying to use and understand Chimera for the last week and I'm a bit out of my depth :). I can import our protein 4DNP.pdb and display it using solid surface or using the sphere representations of atoms. I can also display it with the "lid" domain hidden and vice versa.

My problem has been getting files that our 3D printer can read. The solid surface model of the whole protein can be exported as a scene in .stl format and that can be printed just fine. Although I can't figure out how to adjust resolution or the smoothness of the exported file.

But I'd really like to print the two domains of the protein separately. If I use Solid surface model with the lid hidden what I get is an eggshell like model which has no internal detail. If I use atoms shown as spheres instead I get the internal detail I want BUT when I try and export the scene I get a 2 Gb+ file that is unreadable by the printer. If I export .obj format instead the colleague who runs the printer says the file won't load and appears to have errors.

I have a horrible feeling I am going about this entirely the wrong way but I can't find a tutorial that describes what I'm trying to achieve. I do realise chimera is not really written for the somewhat trivial use that I am attempting but it really would be helpful if we had a physical model of the protein to look at.

Is there a tutorial I should follow or another part of Chimera (or another program) that I should be using instead? Any advice would be much appreciated.


Bart Janssen
Plant Development team
Breeding and genomics
Plant and Food Research
Private Bag 92169
Auckland 1142
New Zealand

Ph +64 09 9257179
bart.janssen at plantandfood.co.nz

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