College of Arts & Letters

AL Student Lab Documentation


Creating a print ready 3D model in Maya

Maya is a very powerful 3D Model and Scene editor and rendering package. It has a great plugin architecture and is the industry standard for 3D asset generation.
This page describes the process of exporting the model to make it ready for 3D printing. It assumes you built the model following the best practices described in the 3D Build documentation.

Features of Maya models

Maya has a huge range of special materials including process materials/textures that are generated programmatically. These cannot be exported for 3D print, you must first convert them to “Baked” textures so they can be exported as an image file. The best geometry has no holes, overlaps or edges unattached. ONLY USE .JPG OR .PNG FILES FOR SHADER IMAGES.

Export to VRML format

  • If you have not already done so you need to combine all of the meshes for the model.
  • Select Polygons from the drop down menu at the left of the screen
  • Select all of the objects
  • Select Combine from the Mesh menu

Combining Polygons

  • You need to enable the VRML export plugin in Maya (just once)
  • Select Plugin Manager from the Window | Settings/Preferences menu

Selecting Plugin manager

  • Scroll down the page and check both boxes next to vrml2Export.Bundle
  • Click refresh and close

Enabling VRML Export Plugin

  • Select all of the objects
  • Select Export Selection from the File menu

Exporting Selection

  • Select File Type: vrml2 in the Export Selection Options window
  • Check the Evaluate and Original boxes in the Texture Options section
  • Check the Export Normals and Textures boxes in the vrml2 Options section
  • Click the Export Selection button

Export Options

  • In the save dialog make sure the Format is vrml2
  • Name the save file
  • Make a folder and copy the .wrl file and all of the original textures into it
  • Compress this folder into a Zip file and submit it to

Setting File Format on Save