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Generate U3D files from STL models for making multilayer 3D PDF figures

version (67.8 KB) by Francis Esmonde-White
Conversion of meshes into U3D files for making multilayer 3D PDF figures with transparency.


Updated 13 May 2011

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This submission is based on Alexandre Gramfort's "matlab-mesh-to-pdf-with-3d-interactive-object". His program allows meshes to be converted into 3D PDF figures. However, his code only allows a single layer to be converted, and does not enable transparency.

The present submission does not create the final PDF. It generates the U3D file which can then be inserted into a PDF file using Adobe Acrobat Pro. This submission also allows multilayer meshes to be created, and for the transparency of each layer to be specified.

This code includes a function (installGoogleArchive.m) which will automatically download and install binaries required to convert the intermediate data format (IDTF) file into the final Universal 3D (U3D) file. This code also only includes the windows version of the converter.

Comments and Ratings (3)

Hi Darryl,

Unfortunately, it has been quite a while since I generated those pdf's. I do not have all the intermediate files. I did locate the U3D files, and I think I found the corresponding STL's for the rat leg model. I have uploaded them into a zip on my personal web site at:


Thank you for the time you put into this package.

I was wondering if you could post copies of the two stl files, the .idtf file, and the .u3d file you used. I'm having issues generating a valid .u3d and it would be nice to be able to trace the error using your files. This way I can see if we diverge at any point.



Included file updated (File Exchange # 31414) in response to comment by Jan Simon.

No code changes, I just fixed the acknowledgements (I had 25383 listed in the 'includes code' section, but that didn't make a link in the acknowledgements section).

MATLAB Release Compatibility
Created with R2011a
Compatible with any release
Platform Compatibility
Windows macOS Linux