Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here is an initial-draft start, with thanks to NIH 3D Print Exchange FAQs.

Great, I have an account. What do I do next?

We're glad you are here! Here are suggestions for getting started.

  • Portal Exploration. Please look around and see what you think. Is everything making sense and working for you?
  • Check your user profile. Let other Makers know your interests on your user account page. Remember, no Personal Identifying Information (PII) please!
  • Learn More. Watch the 3D Printing video on the Learn tab and think about what project you might want to try.
  • Contribute. Learn about Permissions and roles as we configure this portal.
  • Tell us what you think. We're all in this together, use the Contact tab to make suggestions or corrections.
What is the X3D file format? How can I use it?

X3D is a XML-based format for representing and communicating 3D information.  It is an improved version of the original Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML, or .wrl) format and shares many similarities.  Similar to HTML, X3D can be used to convert and use 3D models on the Web.  X3D is used for 2D and 3D graphics, 3D viewers, animation, computer assisted design, navigation and much more.  X3D is used in the Model Exchange as an effective way to preview models before you download them.  We use embedded viewers called X3DOM and X_ITE that allow models to be visualized in a web browser.  You can also download X3D files of the models on the exchange from the download menu, and then import them into 3D software such as Blender or Meshlab.  An advantage of X3D is that, unlike STL, it encodes color information, so downloading the X3D file is essential if you are going to print your model on a color 3D printer.  X3D can also include links and metadata documenting a model. You can also use downloaded X3D files for displaying 3D models elsewhere, such as your own site, by embedding them into an X3D viewer.

Do I need to install any software on my device to use the interactive viewer?

No. We’re using technologies called X3DOM (pronounced X-Freedom) and WebGL that are designed to work in modern web browsers without special software. However, It’s possible that some web browsers won’t display the content in 3D-viewable format automatically. Try using later versions of Firefox or Chrome, if possible; if that doesn’t work, contact us and we can help you to troubleshoot so you can manipulate the models on the screen.