Working with 3D Data and FME

Liz Sanderson
Liz Sanderson
  • Updated


3D data can be found among a wide variety of formats and applications from extruded shapes, to terrain surfaces, point clouds, or even whole buildings for visualization and coordinating work. 
This article is an overview of a selection of 3D resources for working with data that supports a Z or elevation value. For more specific resources on CAD, point clouds, or Building Information Models (BIM), please see the linked format pages. 
For a high-level overview of how FME can help you with 3D, see our website


3D Terminology

Appearance: A set of information that describes a surface and can be shared between surfaces and across features. An appearance may detail color, reaction to lighting, or provide an image as a texture. Appearances can be set on geometry such as extrusions, faces, and surfaces.

Extrusion: A solid volume in 3D space, defined by a "base" face and an extrusion vector.

Face: A planar (2D) area in a 3D space. It is an example of a surface feature.

Surface: Geometries that have a planar area. Surfaces are 3D features and can be simple or composite. 

Texture: Textures store information about how an image will be applied to a surface.

Geometry Traits: Attributes at the geometry level, rather than the feature level. These are 
typically used with data formats with hierarchical geometries such as SketchUp or CityGML. 

Find out more about how Surfaces, extrusions, and faces work in the FME Geometry Model.



Getting Started Articles

Tutorial: Getting Started with 3D

Tutorial: Getting Started with Augmented Reality (FME AR)

Basic 3D KML


Intermediate Articles

Tutorial: 3D Transformations

Convert Autodesk FBX (Filmbox) to KML
Draping Imagery Textures on Terrain Surfaces
​​​​​​​Getting Started with the CityEngineModelGenerator
Writing Cesium 3D Tiles with FME
​​​​​​​Uploading Assets to Cesium Ion

Advanced Articles

Before completing the following articles be sure to work through the Getting Started Articles first.

BIM Tutorial​​​​​​​
​​​​​​​Converting CityGML to INSPIRE 3D Buildings (Annex III)
​​​​​​​Create Three.js from SketchUp
​​​​​​​How to Clip TIN Surfaces

Format Documentation

Adobe 3D PDF Writer
​​​​​​​Cesium 3D Tiles Writer
​​​​​​​OGC CityGML Reader/Writer
Esri Indexed Scene 3D Layer (I3S) Writer
​​​​​​​Trimble SketchUp Reader/Writer
​​​​​​​OBJ Reader/Writer

​​​​​​​Top Questions and Answers

3D Solids in PostGIS
Place Datasmith mesh location not in origin?
​​​​​​​Convert DWG solid colors to OBJ

Additional Resources


Advanced 3D Worlds with ArcGIS Data Interoperability 
​​​​​​​Top 4 LiDAR and Point Cloud Processing Workflows
Visualizing Geospatial Data in a Web Browser with Cesium Ion and FME



3D Building Generator
​​​​​​​Footprint and DEM to Cesium 3D Tiles
​​​​​​​CityGML Create Building LoD2
​​​​​​​CityGML to Esri Geodatabase


How to Easily Read and Write CityGML Data (Without Coding) [1:02:27]

Learn how you can read and write data to CityGML and how it fits into the whole picture of GeoBIM so you can gain interoperability over your most difficult datasets.


Ask Me Anything About: Transforming Data for Augmented Reality [1:01:06]
Find out how to overcome your AR roadblocks and get inspired by some use cases for this technology.

FME Hocus Pocus: 3D Transformations  [1:12:46]
Get the fundamentals of how 3D geometries work in FME and how to best handle them in transformations.

Gaming with FME [1:13:17]
Learn how to bring 3D data into environments like Unreal Engine, Roblox, or Minecraft.

Visualizing Data in a Web Browser with Cesium Ion and FME [56:02]
Learn how to pre-process and bring data into Cesium ion with FME.

Your Data in Unreal: How to Bring Your Data into Real Time Environments [1:13:00]
Integrate your existing data, like BIM, GIS, and CAD, and bring it into Unreal Engine so anyone can experience it in a real-time environment



Some issues with the coordinate system on 3D Tiles

Known Issues

For a list of Known Issues, see the following articles: 2021.x2020.x2019.x2018.x2017.x


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