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Multilabel marching cubes and simplification of volumetric data.

Project description

zmesh: Multi-Label Marching Cubes & Mesh Simplification

Tests PyPI version

from zmesh import Mesher

labels = ... # some dense volumetric labeled image
mesher = Mesher( (4,4,40) ) # anisotropy of image

# initial marching cubes pass
# close controls whether meshes touching
# the image boundary are left open or closed
mesher.mesh(labels, close=False) 

meshes = []
for obj_id in mesher.ids():
      normals=False, # whether to calculate normals or not

      # tries to reduce triangles by this factor
      # 0 disables simplification

      # Max tolerable error in physical distance
      # whether meshes should be centered in the voxel
      # on (0,0,0) [False] or (0.5,0.5,0.5) [True]
  mesher.erase(obj_id) # delete high res mesh

mesher.clear() # clear memory retained by mesher

mesh = meshes[0]
mesh = mesher.simplify(
  # same as simplification_factor in get_mesh
  # same as max_simplification_error in get_mesh
  compute_normals=False, # whether to also compute face normals
) # apply simplifier to a pre-existing mesh

# compute normals without simplifying
mesh = mesher.compute_normals(mesh) 

mesh.triangles() # compute triangles from vertices and faces

# Extremely common obj format
with open('iconic_doge.obj', 'wb') as f:

# Common binary format
with open('iconic_doge.ply', 'wb') as f:

# Neuroglancer Precomputed format
with open('10001001:0', 'wb') as f:


If binaries are available for your system:

pip install zmesh

Requires a C++ compiler and boost

Note that you may need to set the environment variable BOOST_ROOT.

sudo apt-get install python3-dev libboost-all-dev
pip install zmesh --no-binary :all:

Performance Tuning

  • The mesher will consume about double memory in 64 bit mode if the size of the object exceeds <1023, 1023, 511> on the x, y, or z axes. This is due to a limitation of the 32-bit format.
  • The mesher is ambidextrous, it can handle C or Fortran order arrays.
  • The maximum vertex range supported .simplify after converting to voxel space is 220 (appx. 1M) due to the packed 64-bit vertex format.

Related Projects

  • zi_lib - zmesh makes heavy use of Aleks' C++ library.
  • Igneous - Visualization of connectomics data using cloud computing.


Thanks to Aleks Zlateski for creating and sharing this beautiful mesher.

Later changes by Will Silversmith, Nico Kemnitz, and Jingpeng Wu.


  1. W. Lorensen and H. Cline. "Marching Cubes: A High Resolution 3D Surface Construction Algorithm". pp 163-169. Computer Graphics, Volume 21, Number 4, July 1987. (link)
  2. M. Garland and P. Heckbert. "Surface simplification using quadric error metrics". SIGGRAPH '97: Proceedings of the 24th annual conference on Computer graphics and interactive techniques. Pages 209–216. August 1997. doi: 10.1145/258734.258849 (link)
  3. H. Hoppe. "New Quadric Metric for Simplifying Meshes with Appearance Attributes". IEEE Visualization 1999 Conference. pp. 59-66. doi: 10.1109/VISUAL.1999.809869 (link)

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