3DXML files.

Get the lowdown on 3DXML — from its origin story to its main advantages.  

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What you’ll learn.


  • What is a 3DXML file?
  • History of the 3DXML file
  • How to use a 3DXML file
  • Pros and cons of 3DXML files
  • How to open a 3DXML file
  • How to create and edit a 3DXML file

  • 3DXML files: frequently asked questions



What is a 3DXML file?

3DXML files contain information-rich 3D-image models. These details may include core geometry, mesh shapes, textures, and lighting effects. The French company Dassault developed the 3DXML file format, which became known for its accuracy, complexity, and wide use across industries.


The best way to understand 3DXML is to split the name — a 3DXML file is an XML file for 3D. A simple text-based format, XML provides a core that helps make 3DXML files highly compressible (especially as zip files). This, in turn, makes the files easy to share and embed — and fast to load.


Nonetheless, 3DXMLs are complex and contain composites of surfaces, edges, vertices, weights, images, and objects. This information saves in binary code — the two-symbol system that uses 1s and 0s to encode data.


Make sure not to confuse 3DXML with X3D — another XML-based 3D modeling file.



History of the 3DXML file.

The 3DXML file has roots in Dassault Systèmes, a company founded in the late 1920s that originally manufactured aircrafts during World War Two. In 1981, an industrial manufacturing subsidiary split off from Dassault Aviation and developed a sophisticated computer-aided drawing and drafting (CAD) program that the manufacturing industry quickly adopted. 


The 3DXML file advanced CAD images (with elements like texture, lighting, and topology) and allowed sharing on a large scale. It also made CAD images smaller and easier to transfer, plus it simplified inserting 3D images into text files.



How to use 3DXML files.

Sharable 3D information.

3DXMLs are ideal for industry-specific tech documents, including design specifications, brochures and manuals, business-to-business proposals, marketing supplies, websites, and apps. 


Zipping files.

Dassault designed 3DXML for compression. Converting them to standard zip files is easy. The image’s surface data stores as what are known as Gregory patches — an efficient form of geometry definition. These patches are reinterpreted back into faces on mesh surfaces. You can share 3DXML files in emails, websites, documents, and as attachments.


Product manufacturing.

Easily shared and incorporated, 3DXML files are excellent for manufacturing. They connect designers with plants, suppliers, and marketers. In many cases, 3DXML files contain industry-specific product life management (PLM) information.


Discover more vector file types



Pros and cons of 3DXML files.

Explore some advantages and disadvantages of 3DXML.


Advantages of 3DXML files.

  • Fast and efficient. 3DXMLs are lightweight and easily to exchange. Once compressed, you can send many at once. While complex and precise, their load times are famously quick. As zip files, you can drag and drop them into many applications.
  • XML. Extensible Markup Language is text-based code, which is simple enough for Microsoft Notepad. It stores data with a clean structure, so a variety of programs can read and write it. This makes adjusting and editing 3DXML files even easier.
  • Native standardization. Dassault Systèmes refined the 3DXML file in consultation with other industries, but it also adopted the format into its entire program line. If you are using any Dassault program, you’ll find 3DXMLs run smoothly.


Disadvantages of 3DXML files.

  • They’re not the easiest to open. Many users struggle with opening these files, especially at first. If you’re using non-Dassault software, the process may be more complicated.  
  • You’ll want to get the player. It can take time to download an open-source, standalone application, but it’s generally the best solution for working with 3DXML files. The Dassault Systèmes 3D XML Specifications and Player makes it possible to quickly view and adjust information-rich 3D models.
  • There’s a lot of competition. 3D modeling is an enormous field. Other similar file types include IGES, JT, OBJ, STL, and X3D.



How to open a 3DXML file.

You can open 3DXML files with a range of software programs on Windows or Mac. If you have Dassault’s player, it’s easier, but some other programs do let you simply drag and drop the file.


First, you’ll need to download a compatible program — then, follow these steps.

  1. Navigate to the saved file folder.
  2. Right-click on its name.
  3. Click Choose Default Program, followed by Browse.
  4. Select the compatible program to launch the file.



How to create and edit a 3DXML file.

Dassault’s programs remain your best bet for creating, manipulating, and editing 3DXML files. These include CATIA and the 3D XML Player.



3DXML files: frequently asked questions.

What software opens 3DXML files?

Although Daussult Systèmes designed 3DXML files, you can open and view them on a range of software including Adobe Acrobat, which incorporates a file extension for 3DXML.



What is a CATPART file?

CATPART files are another 3D image file created by Dassault, used on the CATIA design program. They incorporate engineering, manufacturing, and design features that you can use along with other products in a CATPRODUCT assembly file.


How can I open 3DXML file in CATIA V5?

To open a 3DXML file in CATIA V5, follow these steps.


  1. Open CATIA and select File > Open.
  2. Select your file and open the File Type dropdown menu.
  3. Select 3DXML. A preview should then appear.
  4. Open the file for editing or select Read Only.
  5. Click Open.


Can NX Open 3DXML?

To open a 3DXML file on the Siemens NX program, you’ll need to convert your file to a .PRT format. This contains polygonal information that will help your file transfer to the new program.

Learn more about file types similar to 3DXML.

PRC file image

PRC files

Learn more about these files — used for 3D models in CAD by architects and designers.

JT file image

JT files

Get to know JT files, 3D models designed to be shared and edited by multiple parties.

MB file image

MB files

Discover more about these 3D-modeling files, which the program Autodesk Maya uses.

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