You can export the image in the 3d display as a vrml file that can be converted into a format that a 3D printer can use. Here we give a brief description of how this can be done. If you need some more help you can write to Christian Baerlocher (E-mail: To get you started, he will also be able to prepare and print a test model for you.
Preparing the model
  You can manipulate the display style for the model anyway you like, i.e. stick model, ball and stick or ionic radii. You can also include surfaces, or just the surface alone.
In preparing your model you should consider these points:
  1. The simplest (and cheapest) models are printed by extruding a (coloured) plastic wire. The model is built up layer by layer. Longer stretches of unsupported horizontal parts (sticks) or parts that are at a small angle to the priniting base can not be printed easily and will tend to bend down.
  2. Normally, only one or two colors can be printed.
  3. Print times can be quite long for larger objects. The stick model in figure 1 below took about 17h, the red ball model in Figure 2 took 120h (i.e. about 5 days!) to print. Of course, the printing time depends strongly on the resolution along the printing direction (z-axis) and on the size of the model.
  4. Printers can have quite a small printing area, so usually only smaller models can be printed.
Scale factor

For easy use, different scale factors are provided in a pulldown menu. They have been chosen to have a simple relationship to the dimensions in Angstroems. You have to select the scale factor so that your model fits the dimensions of your printer.

To help with the selection of the scale factor, you can calculate the dimensions of the bounding box around the mode in Angstroemsl. The dimensions are given along the a, b and c directions and are displayed in the console window that will open if you click the button "Get model dimensions".

If you prefer/need to use a different scale factor you can do this manually. Just type the following command into the lower text box of the console window and hit return (or select "Run")

exportScale = xx.x

xx.x = the scale factor in mm/Å (i.e. 20.0 = 20mm/Å)

and select "Custom.. " in the "Scale factor" menu

By default, the file will be saved in your "Download" folder. You may need to respond to a dialog window (once or twice), where you also can change the path for the file.

File format conversion
  There are a number of good programs available that do editing, filtering and cleaning of 3d meshes and convert them to the .stl format often used by 3D printers. A free program that does quite a good job is MeshLab. This program can also be used to clip and render channel surfaces.
  Here are two examples of 3D models for which the input files have been generated using this site.

LTA model


LTA model

  Figure 1: Stick model of LTA (15cm on edge)


Figure 2: Sphere (ionic radii) model (curtesy of an anonymous printer)
(dimensions approx. 18cm x 18cm x 12.5cm)