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Interactive U3D models

We are currently improving the display of data visualizations on ScienceDirect. As a result, 3D visualizations will not display on ScienceDirect immediately. However, you may still submit your data files and they will appear with your article once the new version is available later in 2018.

About Interactive U3D Models

Authors of selected Elsevier journals are invited to enrich their online articles by providing supplementary 3D models in the Universal 3D (U3D) File Formatopens in new tab/window, 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 interactive UI

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.

U3D app image

How to use the U3D Viewer with the mouse

Main button (left)

Middle button (middle)

Secondary button (right)




drag vertically



Author instructions

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 MeshLabopens in new tab/window. 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 FIG2U3Dopens in new tab/window provided by MathWorks.

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).