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Universal 3D

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Title: Universal 3D  
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Subject: List of Ecma standards, VRML, PRC (file format), Comparison of OpenXPS and PDF, Near field communication
Collection: 3D Graphics File Formats, Ecma Standards
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Universal 3D

Universal 3D
Filename extension .u3d
Developed by 3D Industry Forum,
Ecma International
Initial release August 2005
Latest release
4th edition
(June 2007)
Type of format File format for 3D computer graphics
Extended from XML
Standard ECMA-363
Website Standard ECMA-363

Universal 3D (U3D) is a compressed file format standard for 3D computer graphics data.

The format was defined by a special consortium called 3D Industry Forum that brought together a diverse group of companies and organizations, including Intel, Boeing, HP, Adobe Systems, Bentley Systems, Right Hemisphere and others whose main focus had been the promotional development of 3D graphics for use in various industries, specifically at this time manufacturing as well as construction and industrial plant design. The format was later standardized by Ecma International in August 2005 as ECMA-363.

The goal is a universal standard for three-dimensional data of all kinds, to facilitate data exchange. The consortium promoted also the development of an open source library for facilitating the adoption of the format.

The format is natively supported by the PDF format and 3D objects in U3D format can be inserted into PDF documents and interactively visualized by Acrobat Reader (since version 7).


  • Editions 1
  • Application support 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


There are four editions to date.

The first edition is supported by many/all of the various applications mentioned below. It is capable of storing vertex based geometry, color, textures, lighting, bones, and transform based animation.

The second and third editions correct some errata in the first edition, and the third edition also adds the concept of vendor specified blocks. One such block widely deployed is the RHAdobeMesh block, which provides a more compressed alternative to the mesh blocks defined in the first edition. Deep Exploration, 3D PDF Converter for Acrobat Pro and PDF3D-SDK can author this data, and Adobe Acrobat and Reader 8.1 can read this data.

The fourth edition provides definitions for higher order primitives (curved surfaces).

Application support

Applications which support PDFs with embedded U3D objects include:

  • Adobe Acrobat Extended allows PDF creation and conversion of various file formats to U3D within the PDF. Acrobat Pro allows PDF creation and embedding of pre-created U3D files.
  • Adobe Photoshop CS3, CS4 and CS5 Extended are able to export a 3D Layer as a U3D file.[1]
  • ArchiCAD allows export of U3D files.
  • DAZ Studio
  • iText open source Java library allows creation of PDF containing U3D
  • Jreality, an open source mathematical visualization package with 3D-PDF and U3D export
  • MeshLab
  • MeVisLab supports export of U3D models for biomedical images.[2][3]
  • MicroStation allows export of PDF containing U3D.
  • Poser 7
  • SolidWorks allows saving of files to 3D PDF containing U3D.
  • ArtiosCAD allows saving of files to 3D PDF containing U3D.
  • SimLab Composer allows importing and exporting U3D and embedding U3D in 3D PDF.
  • SpaceClaim allows the opening and saving of 3D PDF format comprising U3D.

See also


  1. ^ "Saving and exporting 3D files (Photoshop Extended)". 
  2. ^ "Simplified Generation of Biomedical 3D Surface Model Data for Embedding into 3D Portable Document Format (PDF) Files for Publication and Education". Retrieved 2015-09-25. 
  3. ^ "Towards an easier creation of three-dimensional data for embedding into scholarly 3D PDF (Portable Document Format) files". Retrieved 2015-09-25. 

External links

  • Create a 3D PDF using 3DRACS and U3D A [1] video tutorial presents how to convert and embed U3D file into a 3D PDF with 3DRACS.
  • ECMA-363: Universal 3D File Format official specifications of the format
  • The U3D Sample Software development formerly
  • Embedding interactive 3D object in a PDF using MeshLab and U3D, Visual Computing Group. ISTI CNR. Example of an embedded U3D in a pdf.
  • German Tutorial for creating 3DPDF An interactive tutorial about embedding a U3D file into a PDF with Meshlab and Miktex.
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