Poor Persons Outline for Working in 3D



      This page was put together originally to help a group of students work with 3D applications and 3D data sets.   Students often have little or no money, so the idea was to put together an outline and a list of tools that could be used without spending any money, or in other words free.   The other goal was to give the students a variety of applications for different platforms to work on.   The operating systems that most students work on are Windows. Some use Apple, Linux, or Unix.   Not all the applications listed here are free but it does give a comparison of what applications are free and what applications cost.   Obviously most applications that have a price on them work better and will save time, however if you donít have any money this will do you no good.   If you find this page useful or if you find other 3D applications/tools that are free please let us know and we will try to update this page.

 



  Input   3D   formats  



  Output   3D   formats  



Convert DXF



Convert OBJ



Convert STL



Convert PLY



Convert PointCloud



  Convert   VRML  



Viewers/converters



  VRML   Viewers  



3D image/movie



Edit/view movies



Edit/view images



Notes



DOS converters



  Input 3D file formats


DXF	(Data eXchange Format) is used for various entities in AutoCAD from AutoDeskInc. 
OBJ	Developed by WaveFront Technologies Inc. which was bought out by Alias and then bought out by AutoDesk.
PLY	Was developed by Stanford University Computer Graphics Lab for storing points and geometries.
STL	Is for stereolithography developed by 3D systems.
VRML	Virtual Reality Modeling Language.
XYZ	Point cloud data in ascii format, each line has 3 values for each point in X, Y and Z.
XYZI	Point cloud data in ascii format, each line has 4 values for each point in X, Y, Z, and Intensity.
XYZRGB	Point cloud data in ascii format, each line has 6 values for each point in X, Y, Z, and RGB for color.

  Output 3D file formats


DXF	(Data eXchange Format) is used for various entities in AutoCAD from AutoDeskInc.
IGES	Initial Graphics Exchange Specification.
IV	Open Inventor file developed by SGI.
NFF	Neutral File Format developed by Eric Haines.
OBJ	Developed by WaveFront Technologies Inc. which is now Alias.
QS	QSplat a program for displaying large 3D models in real time by Stanford University.
STL	Is for stereolithography developed by 3D systems.
VRML	Virtual Reality Modeling Language.
VTK	Visualization ToolKit used by VTK and Paraview.
AC	Developed by AC3D.org which is now Inivis Ltd.
U3D	A format defined by a special consortium "3D Industry Forum" to establish a 3D unversal standard.

  Convert DXF files


DXF > 3DS	use 3DS Max to import file.
DXF > IGES	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2IGS1 for wire frame or STL2IGS2 for surface.
DXF > IV	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2IV.
DXF > MAX	use 3DS Max to import file.
DXF > NFF	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2NFF.
DXF > OBJ	use STL_UTIL.
DXF > STL	use STL_UTIL.
DXF > VRML 1.0	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2VRML.
DXF > VRML 2.0	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2WRL2.
DXF > VTK	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2VTK.
DXF > AC	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2AC3D.

  Convert OBJ files


OBJ > DXF	use STL_UTIL.
OBJ > IGES	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2IGS1 for wire frame or STL2IGS2 for surface.
OBJ > IV	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2IV.
OBJ > NFF	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2NFF.
OBJ > STL	use STL_UTIL.
OBJ > VRML 1.0	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2VRML.
OBJ > VRML 2.0	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2WRL2, for OBJ with textues use OBJT2WRL.
OBJ > VTK	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2VTK.
OBJ > AC	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2AC3D.
OBJ > U3D	use MeshLab save as U3D.

  Convert STL files


STL > 3DS	use 3DS Max to import file.
STL > DXF	use STL_UTIL.
STL > IGES	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2IGS1 for wire frame or STL2IGS2 for surface.
STL > IV	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2IV.
STL > MAX	use 3DS Max to import file.
STL > NFF	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2NFF.
STL > OBJ	use STL_UTIL.
STL > VRML 1.0	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2VRML.
STL > VRML 2.0	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2WRL2.
STL > VTK	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2VTK.
STL > AC	use STL_UTIL and save as BINARY STL then use STL2AC3D.
STL > U3D	use MeshLab save as U3D.

  Convert PLY files

PLY files come in BINARY or ASCII, the DOS programs here can only read BINARY.
PLY files may also contain color information not all file formats can save color information.
To convert PLY BINARY files with color information from Cyberware use PLYswapR to convert 
big endian to little endian then use PLY4VIS this will convert to VRML 2.0, SGI IV, and STL 
(stl files contain no color information). To convert PLY BINARY file without color information 
from (VTK or ParaView) use PLY2VIS this will convert to VRML 2.0, SGI IV, and STL.
To swap little endian to or from big endian PLY files with no color use PLYswapN.
To swap little endian to or from big endian PLY files with color and with tristrips use PLYswapT.

PLY > DXF	use PLY2VIS for noncolor models or PLY4VIS for color then use STL2DXF.
PLY > IGES	use PLY2VIS for noncolor models or PLY4VIS for color then use STL2IGS2.
PLY > IV  	use PLY2VIS for noncolor models or PLY4VIS for color.
PLY > NFF	use PLY2VIS for noncolor models or PLY4VIS for color then use STL2NFF.
PLY > OBJ	use PLY2VIS for noncolor models or PLY4VIS for color then use STL2OBJ.
PLY > QS	use QSplatMake.exe from QSplat.
PLY > STL	use PLY2VIS for noncolor models or PLY4VIS for color note STL files stores no color.
PLY > VRML	use PLY2VIS for noncolor models or PLY4VIS for color.
PLY > VTK	use ParaView.
PLY > AC	use PLY2VIS for noncolor models or PLY4VIS for color then use STL2AC3D.
PLY > U3D	use MeshLab save as U3D.

  Convert Point Cloud files

To convert ASCII Point Cloud files use xyz2vrml.exe or xyzi2vrml.exe to convert to VRML then use 
ParaView or MeshLab for surface or to view point cloud. You can also view ASCII Point Cloud files 
with PartiView but this is not easy you will need to carefuly read the documentation.
 
XYZ    > 3DS	use MeshLab to convert to surface then save as 3DS.
XYZ    > IGES	use MeshLab to convert to surface then save as STL then use STL2IGS1 for wire frame or STL2IGS2 for surface.
XYZ    > PLY	use MeshLab to convert to surface then save as PLY. 
XYZ    > DXF	use MeshLab to convert to surface then save as DXF.
XYZ    > IV	use MeshLab to convert to surface then save as PLY then use PLY2VIS.
XYZ    > MAX	use MeshLab to convert to surface then save as 3DS then use 3DSMax to export as MAX.
XYZ    > OBJ	use MeshLab to convert to surface then save as OBJ.
XYZ    > STL	use MeshLab to convert to surface then save as STL.
XYZ    > VTK	use xyz2vrml.exe then open VRML with ParaView save as VTK.
XYZ    > AC	use MeshLab to convert to surface then save STL, then use STL2AC3D.
XYZ    > VRML   use xyz2vrml.exe
XYZI   > VRML   use xyzi2vrml.exe
XYZRGB > VRML   use xyzRGB2vrml.exe

A note about point clouds. Point clouds come from many different sources. The most 
common sources are LiDAR (laser pulse), SONAR (underwater sound pulse), Photogrammetry 
(point triangulation from a series of overlapping images), and Xbox Kinect (IR 
projector pattern & color images). Each source produces many different types of 
point clouds. Here are the most common types of point clouds:

1. XYZ : Point with no attributes only location in 3D space as XYZ.
2. XYZI : Intensity or reflection as an attribute and location 
   in 3D space as X, Y, Z, and I(intensity or reflection).
   Several examples can be found here: Point Clouds from LiDAR
3. XYZRGB : Location in 3D space as X, Y, Z,  and R(red), G(green), B(blue) 
   as color. Here is an exmaple of XYZRGB : Point Cloud from Images
4. XYZRGBIJK : Color as an attribute, a Normal as an attribute, and location 
   in 3D space as X, Y, Z, R, G, B, I, J, and K.
   Here the location in 3D space is (XYZ), the color is (RGB) and the Normal 
   is (IJK). In most cases the IJK values are used for shading.
   To view an interactive XYZRGBIJK example use this link: Color shaded pointcloud 
5. More complicated point clouds will have more attributes per point location 
   that may include color infrared, hyperspectral bands, surface roughness, 
   size of point as a splat or surfel, and any of the above items (2 to 4).
   More information about this can found here: Point Cloud Poster

Storage of point clouds come in many formats the two most common are ASCII and LAS.
The tools listed in this section are only for ASCII point clouds. To convert from LAS
to ASCII use LAStools.

  Convert VRML files

To convert VRML files use VTK or ParaView to read then save as PLY or any other type supported by VTK. 

VRML > 3DS	use 3DS Max to import VRML then export to 3DS.
VRML > IGES	use ParaView save as PLY then use PLY2VIS then STL2IGS1 to save wire frame or STL2IGS2 to save surface.
VRML > PLY	use ParaView (may not save color information).
VRML > DXF	use ParaView save as PLY then use PLY2VIS then use STL2DXF.
VRML > IV	use ParaView save as PLY then use PLY2VIS.
VRML > MAX	use 3DS Max to import VRML then save as MAX.
VRML > OBJ	use ParaView save as PLY then use PLY2VIS then use STL2OBJ.
VRML > STL	use ParaView save as PLY then use PLY2VIS.
VRML > VTK	use ParaView.
VRML > AC	use ParaView save as PLY then use PLY2VIS then use STL2AC3D.
VRML > U3D	use MeshLab save as U3D.

  3D Viewers and/or converters


ModelPress	(Windows) free
STL_UTIL	(Windows) free
VRMLView	(Windows and Unix) free
ParaView	(Windows and Unix) free
PartiView	(Windows, Linux, IRIX, and Mac) free
MicroView	(Windows and Linux) free
 MeshLab	(Windows, Linux, and Mac) free
SketchUp	(Windows) free Google version 
 OpenSG 	(Windows, IRIX, Linux, and Mac) free
    OSG   	(Windows, Linux, and Mac) free
 PERFLY 	(Windows, IRIX and Linix) free
 QSplat 	(Windows, IRIX, Linux, Mac, and Solaris) free
   VisIt	(Windows, Unix, Linux, and Mac) free
  IMView	(Windows) free
 Elefont	(Windows) free, if useful donate
AC3Dscreensaver (Windows) free (use STL2AC3D to convert)
AC3D		(Window, Unix and Mac) $$
quick3D Viewer	(Windows) $$	
3D Object Converter (Windows) $$
Adobe 3D	(Windows) $$$

  VRML Free Viewers/plugins


VRMLView	(Windows and Unix)
Cortona  	(Windows and Mac)
Blaxxum 	(Windows)
 Cosmo  	(Windows and IRIX) 
 Octaga 	(Windows and Linux)

  3D render to image or movie


PERFLY	(Windows and Unix) Free 
POV-Ray	(Windows, Unix and Mac) Free 
Blender	(Windows, Unix and Mac) Free
MeshLab	(Windows, Linux, and Mac) free
OpenSG 	(Windows, IRIX, Linux, and Mac) free
OSG   	(Windows, Linux, and Mac) free
AC3D	(Windows, Unix and Mac) $$
formZ	(Windows and Mac) $$$
3DS Max	(Windows) $$$ 
Maya	(Windows) $$$$

  To make/edit/modify/view movies


VLC media player	(Windows, Mac, Linux) Free
Apple IMovie 	(Mac) Free
MS Movie Maker	(Windows) Free
makempeg      	(Unix) Free
 Xanim		(Unix) Free
AutoStitch  	(Window) Free check license
QuickTime Pro	(Windows and Mac) $$ 
Pano2QTVR		(Windows) $$
Adobe Premiere	(Windows and Mac) $$$ 
Final Cut Pro	(Mac) $$$$ 

  To edit/view images


IrfanView	(Windows) Free 
the GIMP	(Windows, Unix, Mac) Free 
XV		(Unix) $$
ExifPro 	(Windows) $$
PaintShopPro	(Windows) $$
PhotoShop	(Windows and Mac) $$$ 

  Notes:


The DOS programs objT2wrl.exe, ply2vis.exe, ply4vis.exe, PLYswapR.exe, PLYswapT.exe, PLYswapN.exe,
stl2dxf.exe, stl2igs1.exe, stl2igs2.exe, stl2iv.exe, stl2nff.exe, stl2obj.exe, stl2vrml.exe, stl2vtk.exe,
stl2wrl2.exe, stl2ac3d.exe, xyz2vrml.exe, xyzi2vrml.exe and xyzRGB2vrml.exe can be found
here: http://www.hitechmex.org/DOS/

Some input ASCII files have the wrong end of line terminators, to fix this use WordPad to open and save as
Text Document - MS-DOS format. Make sure to read the readme.txt file before you use any of the programs.

Most CAD/CAM programs will read DXF or IGES files.
Most CAD/CAM programs will save or export DXF, you may need to triangulate before saving.
Use ParaView to read DEM, AVS, EnSight, HDF5, SpyPlot, PDB, XMol, Plot3D, Gaussian Cube, POP, Xdmf,
BYU, AVS, and Facet Polygonal files.
ParaView will output PLY files you can then use ply2vis.exe to convert to VRML, IV, and STL.
Use stl2ac3d to convert stl files into ac3d file types, this can be used with the AC3D free screen saver.
The programs xyz2vrml.exe and xyzi2vrml.exe will convert points to VRML points, it will not create a surface,
to create a surface from a pointcloud use MeshLab or ParaView.

For a view of 3D models made with some of the tools above try this link: Visualization Models
For a selection of 3D models made with some of the tools above try this link: Free 3D Models
For all kinds of information on 3D try this link: Ultimate 3D Link




    Web by Reuben Reyes