Edge transformations for improving mesh quality of marching cubes

C. A. Dietrich, C. E. Scheidegger, J. Schreiner, J. L D Comba, L. P. Nedel, C. T. Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Marching Cubes is a popular choice for isosurface extraction from regular grids due to its simplicity, robustness, and efficiency. One of the key shortcomings of this approach is the quality of the resulting meshes, which tend to have many poorly shaped and degenerate triangles. This issue is often addressed through post processing operations such as smoothing. As we demonstrate in experiments with several datasets, while these improve the mesh, they do not remove all degeneracies, and incur an increased and unbounded error between the resulting mesh and the original isosurface. Rather than modifying the resulting mesh, we propose a method to modify the grid on which Marching Cubes operates. This modification greatly increases the quality of the extracted mesh. In our experiments, our method did not create a single degenerate triangle, unlike any other method we experimented with. Our method incurs minimal computational overhead, requiring at most twice the execution time of the original Marching Cubes algorithm in our experiments. Most importantly, it can be readily integrated in existing Marching Cubes implementations, and is orthogonal to many Marching Cubes enhancements (particularly, performance enhancements such as out-of-core and acceleration structures).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4487066
Pages (from-to)150-159
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Marching cubes
  • Meshing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Signal Processing
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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