From: John Stone (
Date: Fri May 16 2014 - 14:11:06 CDT

  What kind of solid material are you printing your models with?
Is it one of the thermal plastic materials (spool-fed plastic "wire"
put through a small heated nozzle), or is it something based on the
build-up of 2-D printed layers?

VMD itself doesn't know anything about building struts between
parts of the model to strengthen it. The way VMD currently works
when exporting molecular scenes is that the same geometry shown on the
screen is directly exported to an STL or VRML-2 or Wavefront OBJ file
used as input to 3-D printing software. It is clear that many of
the existing VMD graphical representations are perhaps poorly suited
to 3-D printing due to their inherent fragility.

In the past, my recommendation has always been that the most robust
way of creating 3-D models for printing is to use surface style
representations, e.g. from QuickSurf, MSMS, or Surf. These tend to
work well with the 3-D printing software, and it is often pretty
straightforward to choose atom selections that are both informative
and result in a more robust solid model when printed.

In principle it should be possible to teach VMD to be able to add
"support struts" between parts of a molecular model, but it would
require a fair amount of work, and I wonder if this might not be
something that a 3-D printing program would do for itself, since
this is generally an issue with all 3-D models, but the details of
how much support are needed depend on the material being used for
printing, and the scale of the model being printed. What
hardware/software are you using for your printing?

  John Stone

On Fri, May 16, 2014 at 05:49:05PM +0000, Bennion, Brian wrote:
> Hello
> I was curious if there were any vmd supported output types that would add
> struts to 3D printed protein models.
> This link below was the latest mention of 3D printing but didn't have any
> info on struts to make the models more robust. Mine seem to be breaking
> because the strands in the new cartoon rep are too thin.
> Brian

NIH Center for Macromolecular Modeling and Bioinformatics
Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology
University of Illinois, 405 N. Mathews Ave, Urbana, IL 61801           Phone: 217-244-3349