PLY (.ply)


    • 3D geometry format.
    • ASCII or binary format.
    • Used for storage and interchange of 3D graphical objects.
    • Known as Stanford Triangle Format.
    • PLY is an acronym derived from polygon.
    • Stores a 3D object as a collection of line and polygon primitives and their properties.
    • Allows user-defined format elements.

Import & Export

  • Import["file.ply"] imports a PLY file as a MeshRegion object representing the surface.
  • Import["file.ply",elem] imports the specified element from a PLY file.
  • The import format can be specified with Import["file","PLY"] or Import["file",{"PLY",elem,}].
  • Export["file.ply",expr] exports a 3D mesh-based geometric region to a binary PLY file. The expr can be any region that is ConstantRegionQ or a Graphics or Graphics3D object.
  • Export["file.ply",expr,{opt1->val1,}] exports expr with the specified options for the file format.
  • The export format can be specified with Export["file",expr,"PLY"] or Export["file",{"PLY",opt1->val1,}].
  • See the reference pages for full general information on Import and Export.
  • ImportString and ExportString support the PLY format.

Import Elements

  • General Import elements:
  • "Elements"list of elements and options available in this file
    "Rules"full list of rules for each element
    "Options"list of rules for options and settings
    "Summary"summary of properties
    "CoordinateTransform"transformation function from PLY format
  • Data format representation elements:
  • "BinaryFormat"whether the file is a binary or ASCII PLY
    "VertexData"list of vertex coordinates
    "PolygonData"the polygon elements in indexed form
    "UserExtensions"user-defined data associated with polygon vertices
  • Geometry representation elements:
  • "BoundaryMeshRegion"boundary mesh representation of a solid
    "MeshRegion"mesh representation of a surface
  • Graphics representation elements:
  • "Graphics3D"PLY file represented as a Graphics3D object
    "GraphicsComplex"PLY file as a GraphicsComplex object
    "PolygonObjects"list of polygon primitives given in absolute coordinates
  • Import and Export use the "MeshRegion" element by default for PLY files.


  • Export options:
  • "BinaryFormat"Truewhether to write a binary or ASCII file


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Basic Examples  (2)

Import a 3D model from PLY as a MeshRegion object:

Click for copyable input

Summary properties of the model:

Click for copyable input

Export a 3D model to a PLY file:

Click for copyable input

Print the raw textual contents of the file:

Click for copyable input

Scope  (14)

Import Elements  (11)

Export Options  (2)

Introduced in 2007
Updated in 2015