[Chimera-users] STL file questions

Elaine Meng meng at cgl.ucsf.edu
Thu Sep 26 17:16:22 PDT 2013

Hi David,
I can answer the first couple of questions:

The STL export does not include color, dots, lines, or text, in addition to sharing the limitations listed for VRML and X3D.  Limitations of all three are given in:


As for number of triangles, there is some control, but details depend on what you are exporting.  See the "Smoothness" section in the image tips:


I'm hoping someone else can weigh in on the scaling issue.

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 Sep 26, 2013, at 10:19 AM, David Gene Morgan <dagmorga at indiana.edu> wrote:

> Hi,
> 	I have a couple of questions about the chimera STL files.  I tried to open one using chimera to determine whether they contain any color information, but I wasn't able to open the file I just wrote.  I don't care about that, but I would like to know if they contain color information.
> 	Is there any way to control the degree of tesselation when writing an STL file?  In other words, some STL files are huge because they contain huge numbers of triangles (and some 3d printers can't handle overly large files).  I am wondering whether it is possible to control the size of the output files, which is effectively asking if it is possible to control the number of triangles in the file, how finely sampled the model is, etc. (however one wants to describe that property).
> 	Finally, as I understand STL files, they are usually "unscaled" (i.e., the co-ordinate system describing the vertices of the triangles doesn't have fixed length units).  Is that true for the STL files chimera creates?  If I wanted to create two models with an accurate reflection of their relative atomic sizes, are there tricks I will need to employ?

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