Three-dimensional U3D models in online journal articles

About the U3D viewer

Authors of selected Elsevier journals are invited to enrich their online articles by providing supplementary 3D models in the Universal 3D (U3D) File Format, which will be visualized using the interactive viewer embedded within the article.

Using the U3D viewer, it is possible to:

  • browse through all available U3D data sets;
  • zoom into 3D models (using a zoom-slider and the mouse);
  • rotate and pan 3D models (using the mouse);
  • change the background color;
  • reset initial default view;
  • switch between two display modes ("Surface" and "Wireframe");
  • explore 3D models in stereo (using anaglyph glasses);
  • hide/unhide model elements;
  • view the name of each model element one-by-one;
  • download original data files.

U3D model 

                                          Representation of the U3D viewer on ScienceDirect

The U3D viewer supports all major web browsers and mobile devices. It has been developed in collaboration with Kitware SAS.

Articles featuring the U3D viewer:

Benefits for authors and readers

The U3D viewer functionality enables authors to enrich and extend their articles by adding a possibility to interactively explore 3D reconstructions and models. This provides a way to highlight their findings in a visual and easily accessible manner, helping readers to quickly understand the relevance of a research paper, to visualize research data for deeper insights, and to access the underlying data.

How to use the U3D viewer with the mouse

 main button
middle button
secondary button
Zooming  drag vertically
Panning drag

How to prepare U3D models

Various visualization and modelling tools allow 3D models to be exported in the U3D format.

This can be done using the open source software called MeshLab. In MeshLab U3D models can be generated as follows:

  1. Open MeshLab
  2. Click on File > Import Mesh
  3. Select your input file. It supports OBJ, 3D Max, PLY and several others data formats
  4. Click on File > Export Mesh As
  5. Select the "U3D File Format" in the "Files of type" dropdown menu
  6. Select the materials you want to include (for example colors or texture coordinate)

MATLAB figures can be exported to the U3D format using FIG2U3D provided by MathWorks. For MATLAB figures ≤1MB, please also check how you can upload them directly:

Submission & publication

Please submit your U3D models with the manuscript. Multiple models can be submitted with a single article. Each model will have to be zipped and uploaded to online submission system via the "3D models" submission category. Recommended size of a single uncompressed model is ≤100MB.  Please provide a short informative description for each Zip file by filling in the "Description" field when uploading it.

Note: all U3D models will be available for download from the online article on ScienceDirect. If you have concerns about your model being downloadable, please provide a video instead.

U3D viewer will be available in the online version of the article. The PDF/printed version of the article will feature static figures only (if those figures are included in the article manuscript).

If you wish to provide feedback on the U3D viewer or have a suggestion for another innovation that would further enhance the online article please get in touch