View Full Version : Summary of Marching cubes argorithm

Eiichi Genda
09-12-1996, 10:42 AM
Thank you to all who replied to my qestion. Some answers had already
distributed directly from responders.

Here is my original question.

>I am trying to construct surface models from CT and MRI images. I think the
>marching cubes
>argorithm is one of the best tools to automatically create surface mesh
>models. Does anybody know >whether there are tools or subroutines written in
>C which are publicly or commercially available?

Below is a list of all replies.
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If you have multiple contours with xyz coordinates than a public
domain code by the name of NUAGES generates a triangular surface mesh and
also has a solid mesh option. It comes from the computer graphics group in
France. All I have in my notes is INRIA, but they should be easy to find
on the web.

J.J. Trey Crisco, Ph.D.

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You may want to try the public-domain program VolVis, avaliable by
anonymous ftp from cs.sunysb.edu in the directory /pub/volvis.

This program runs on most UNIX workstations (SGI, Sun, HP), and does
iso-surface rendering (with marching cubes) and ray-traced volume
I have had good success with this program visualizing bone surfaces
from CT.
Scott Tashman, Ph.D.

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I suggest that you look at the following web site:

The Visualisation Toolkit (vtk) Home Page

This page describes a program (vtk) which has been made available by the
inventors of the Marching Cubes algorithm.

The software is frrely available. Details of the program are included in an
accompanying book. See the page for more information. Compiled versions
exist for Windows 95 and Windows NT v3.51+. Source code is also available
and we have successfully compiled this to run on a Silicon Graphics workstation.

Surface meshes can be created in a number of formats, and of particular
interest is the "decimation" routine which can be used to greatly reduce the
number of triangles needed to represent an object.

There is also support for the STL file format (read and write). This format
is used to represent objects which can be duplicated using stereolithography
- one of several rapid prototyping technologies.

I hope that you find this information useful!


Tim Barker

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Take a look at the Visualization Toolkit (vtk) at

There you will find all the source code, example data, documentation, etc.
for a quite complete library of C++ code with tcl script bindings which wil
do most of your polygonal mesh generation. It includes marching cubes and a
number of other algorithms for iso-surface extraction -- Note that vtk is
in part authored by Bill Lorensen, the author of the Marching Cubes
algorithm. The code compiles on many Unix boxes as well as Win95/NT and
includes an OpenGL based viewer for both platforms.

I have used vtk for a number of projects in our surgery simulation work and
find it amazing that something this good is basically free. BTW, there is a
book by Prentice-Hall that you do need to fully understand how vtk works--
it is listed in the web site.

A final pointer is to mvox (http://www.imm.dtu.dk/~mvox/) -- this is an
interactive application to segment and mesh medical imagery. I have also
used it in conjunction with vtk for difficult segmentation problems. There
is a demo on the website-- it costs money, around $2500 US, but it works
well and is considerably cheaper than other similar packages that I know
Dwight Meglan, PhD
dwight@ht.com http://www.ht.com

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As others have replied, Marching Cubes is available as part of the
Visualization Toolkit decsribed at http://www.cs.rpi.edu/~martink

Also you can look at how to create models from medical images at:


and other exmaples on my home page:


Hope this helps,

Bill Lorensen
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Eiichi Genda
Rosai Rehabilitation Engineering Center
1-10-5 Komei, Minato District
Nagoya, 455 Japan
Tel: 81-52-652-5747
Fax 81-52-652-6275
E-mail genda@eirec3.lwc-eirec.go.jp