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 library is also well known for having serious memory management issues.
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 of U3D
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.
PDF with embedded U3D objects can be created by at least the following list of applications:
Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader (since version 7), Photoshop CS3, Poser 7, DAZ Studio and MeshLab support U3D.
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