The latest version of Meshlab improves several processing features, and it remains one of the essential open source tools for 3D mesh modelers.
Meshlab is an open source tool that’s able to manipulate 3D meshes in highly complex processes. How complex? Take a close look at their standard menu for Remeshing, Simplification and Reconstruction methods:
Yes, that’s a lot. And that’s only one of the several categories of processes you can inflict on your 3D meshes with Meshlab. It’s a very powerful program, and takes some time to learn. I’m not sure if anyone really knows all the functions, as each includes sets of parameters that can drastically alter how the function executes. Fortunately, there is usually the ability to undo actions.
Meshlab can perform essential operations such as converting a point cloud into a true mesh, or repairing damaged 3D models, something that still happens all too often. There’s far too many features to mention here.
The tool has been around for quite a few years, and underwent a major rewrite in 2016. The most recent edition, version 2021.05, includes several interesting improvements, including:
- A new texture map defragmentation filter
- Support for file formats containing more than one mesh, which are now inserted into separate layers
- Restoration of the Far Clipping Pan feature
- Custom shader support for rendering
Finally, the Meshlab team implemented a completely new method for plugins, one that permits runtime loading. The new approach implies there are actually few using the new method at this point, but the Meshlab developers strongly encourage programmers to begin creating their own.
In fact, they say they’ve made the process of building and implementing Meshlab plugins easier, but they still have a way to go. For example, plugins are still unaware of the version of Meshlab they require. This is among many other features yet to be developed, but it’s on the Meshlab roadmap.
For these plugins, the Meshlab team has created a brand new GitHub repository where they can be stored. The intent is that these will be regularly tested with each new version of Meshlab, as they are developed. Currently there are only 66 plugins available as of this writing, including functions for editing, rendering and filtering.
Meshlab doesn’t do everything you need when working on a 3D model, but it does have a fantastic toolbox of specific functions that might be required from time to time. I’ve been using it for many years as an “overflow” tool for my other main 3D tools that are occasionally deficient in functions.
If you haven’t used Meshlab previously, or haven’t yet upgraded to 2021.05, please head over to Meshlab’s download page and check it out. And remember, it’s completely free to download and use.