A wire frame model is an electronic representation of a 3-dimensional or physical object. It is created by specifying each edge of the physical object where two mathematically continuous smooth surfaces meet, or by connecting an object's constituent vertices using straight lines or curves. The object is projected onto the computer screen by drawing lines at the location of each edge.
Sample rendering of a wireframe cube, icosahedron, and sphere
The use of a wire frame model allows visualization of the underlying design structure of a 3D model. Traditional 2-dimensional views and drawings can be created by appropriate rotation of the object and selection of line removal via cutting planes.
Since wireframe renderings are relatively simple and fast to calculate, they are often used in cases where a high screen refresh rate is needed (for instance, when working with a particularly complex 3D model, or in real-time systems that model exterior phenomena). When greater graphical detail is desired surface textures can be added automatically after completion of the initial rendering of the wireframe. This allows the designer to quickly review changes or rotate the object to new desired views without long delays associated with complete realistic rendering.
The wire frame format is also well suited and widely used in programming tool paths for DNC (Digitally Numerically Controlled) machine tools.