3D modeling is widely known everywhere and used in countless mediums, ranging from architectural, illustrations, video games, engineering, and advertising.  This technical term is also used on the web, where rendering contains 3D modeling along with web development. There are several 3D file formats available for 3D models, including separate options merely used in specialized labs and well-known formats available in most digital devices. Let’s take a brief overview of the following 3D file formats that are relevant to designing and rendering 3D models:

3D File Formats for Real-Time Rendering

There are many 3D file formats available for real-time viewers. These formats can be shared easily across various mediums and can also be used with different 3D modeling tools available in the market for developers. Some of the most widely used file formats for real-time 3D asset delivery comprise USDZ and glTF. The USDZ formats are comparably new in the market and are developed for iOS users. To edit a USDZ file, these must be extracted separately, just like any other zip file. The format shows 3D combined with AR information and is specific to iOS platforms.

The glTF format supports some unique options for Android users. Since the format is read-only, you cannot edit them without using 3D modeling software. It is a royalty-free specification for rendering a real-time 3D scene. It reduces the runtime process needed to unpack and utilize assets, which makes it an enforcing choice for real-time 3D rendering.

3D File Formats for Web Applications

The 3D rendering includes both 3D along with the web. This process creates 2D images from a 3D object or model, using typical data that defines the texture, color, and material in the object. 3D rendering was first presented in a simulation in which 3-dimensional images were used to depict a pilot in a cockpit of an airplane. Sketchpad was the first 3D modeling software, introduced in 1963 and since then, the world of 3D modeling and rendering has evolved rapidly.

Over the past few decades, graphic designers have developed several techniques for 3D rendering. Some of the popular methods include ray tracing, rasterization, ray-casting, and rendering equations. Each technique has distinctive advantages and deficiencies. 3DS, FBX, OBJ, and 3DM are some typical 3D rendering formats for web applications.

3D File Formats for Architectural Visualization

Many tools have recently come up in the gaming and film industry. Earlier, the 3D rendering inside Digitial Content Creation (DCC) applications has crossed over to the architectural industry, where formats, such as MAX, FBX, and 3DS are a mainstay. The formats are simple to edit and coherent across several workstations. DCC tools are packaged as native operating systems and require professional skills to use. They mark complex interfaces but are also commonly used for 3D modeling and rendering. Autodesk Revit and SketchUp are well-known DCC tools.

Revit is known as one of the most advanced architectural software. RVT, RFA, RTE, RFT are its native file formats.

SketchUp offers various plugins, making it easy for 3D developers or designers to adapt the software for several purposes. SketchUp-related file formats are VRML, IGES, JT, and STEP.


There are many 3D modeling file formats, but you can choose according to your needs. Some formats are specific to the modeling tool, limiting coherence when sharing projects with designers using different software. However, you can find neutral formats, such as STL, FBX, OBJ, COLLADA, and IGES, among others. These formats can be used across several tools and suit almost any workflow. You should know the pros and cons of each format before you start rendering 3D models.