Project Page: Zometool Shape Approximation

This is the accompanying website of our recent publications ZK14 and ZLAK14 on the topic of Zometool Shape Approximation -- home of the Stanford Zome-Bunny (see below). On this site you will find a model repository of Zometool representations (called Zome-Meshes) for various freeform models. For interactive 3D viewing of the Zome-Meshes an OpenFlipper plugin is provided. This is an interactive software tool that will prove helpful if you want to actually build the models yourself.

As a special service, we offer you the possibility to send us your favorite 3D models and we will compute the corresponding Zome-Meshes and add the results to the repository (more details below).

Oh, and there is also a Youtube Video illustrating the optimization performed in ZLAK14.

Features and Updates

  • [25-04-14] Windows binaries (32/64bit) for ZomeMeshViewer
  • [30-04-14] Added export functionality to Scott Vorthmann's vZome VEF format, also added VEF files for download


The Zometool system is an elegant mathematical modeling system based on a single type of node connector and a small set of different edges (called struts). Our research in this project focuses on discrete optimization methods in order to use this construction system for the approximation and represention of general (freeform) shapes. The representation (Zome-Mesh) has the form of a polygon mesh with the vertices and edges conforming to the Zometool system.


Such a representation, based on a system consisting only of a small set of different elements, has several potential benefits for various practical applications. In Architectural Geometry the task of rationalizing a design in a cost efficient manner is strongly related to being able to represent that design using few different building blocks/elements, i.e., enabling mass production. Furthermore, for prototyping designs the use of stable elements can be advantageous compared to less stable ones such as paper. At the same time these elements accessible (over-the-counter purchasable) and the realization does not require 3D printing or laser cutting equipment. Other possible benefits include mesh compression.

Zome-Mesh Shape Repository

For viewing the Zome-Meshes (supplied in our special *.zmc format) you need the following OpenFlipper Plugin. Additionally we provide .vef files compatible with Scott Vorthmann's vZome.


The plugin is a standard OpenFlipper plugin written in C++ and can as such be compiled on Linux, Windows and Mac systems. We also provide Windows binaries for 32 and 64bit systems.

Windows Binaries

Source Code

Compiling the plugin is just like compiling other OpenFlipper plugins:

  1. Unpack the plugin directory (Plugin-ZomeMeshViewer) to the OpenFlipper root directory (where all the other plugins are located).
  2. Re-run cmake in the build folder to find the new plugin.
  3. Then call make to build it.
  4. Also see the README file for additional information.

The plugin has three external dependencies:

  • The poco library. More specifically, the Foundations and Zip part of this library. Here is a cmake-finder to help OpenFlipper find the library: FindPoco.cmake (Hint: place this in the OpenFlipper cmake folder: /OpenFlipper/cmake/)
  • The Eigen library. Here is a cmake-finder to help OpenFlipper find the library: FindEIGEN3.cmake (Hint: place this in the OpenFlipper cmake folder: /OpenFlipper/cmake/)
  • The Boost library.

Using the ZomeMeshViewer

The Plugin lets you load and interactively visualize Zome-Meshes in OpenFlipper. The 3D visualization enables spacial comprehension and exploration of the structure and thus effectively support real-life assembly. For large models the selection functionality of OpenFlipper can be used to select (or tag) faces of the mesh already completed. Via the corresponding plugin “Selections” such information can also be saved and loaded.


Here you can download Zome-Meshes computed by our method for different freeform input shapes.

ZMC file    VEF file
ZMC file    VEF file
#Nodes = 1418
#Struts = 3440
ZMC file    VEF file
ZMC file    VEF file
ZMC file    VEF file
ZMC file    VEF file
ZMC file    VEF file
ZMC file    VEF file
Your mesh here?

Model Gallery

If you build one the models posted here, please send us your photo such that we can post it on this project page. These photos have reached us recently:

Hand Model
Thanks to Paul van de Veen from Eindhoven, Netherlands for providing the photo.
Rubber Duck
Thanks to Helen Yu from Taipei, Taiwan for providing the photo.
Bunny and Dog
Thanks to Helen Yu from Taipei, Taiwan for providing the photo.
Thanks to Helen Yu from Taipei, Taiwan for providing the photo.

Is your favorite shape not in the list??

You can email us your 3D models and we will compute its Zome-Mesh representation and add it to the repository.

Important Information

Email your model as a closed, watertight triangle mesh (in .OFF or .OBJ format) to with the text “Zome-Mesh” in the subject. The mesh can be of arbitrary genus. Note:

  • Please respect copyright. By uploading or sending us a mesh, you explicitly confirm that you own the copyright/re-distribution rights for that mesh and and that you grant us the permission to publish it on this web-page or that the mesh is in the public domain anyway.
  • All Zome-Meshes are computed using the method in ZLAK14, please reference this publication if you use our results in your own projects.
  • Our service is provided free of charge and comes with no warranty. While we hope to update the repository on a regular basis, we ask for your understanding as this work is done in our “spare time” and highly depends on our overall workload.
  • You will be notified by email when your mesh has been processed.

Zometool Event 2014

In cooperation with Villa Kunterbunt and Zometool our chair rebuild the Aachen Cathedral in a scale of 15:1 out of Zometool. The final building was composed of over 25.000 parts and will be on display in Aachen till the end of 2014.

The finished Aachen Cathedral made out of Zometool:
The south side of the cathedral:
The team who build the Zometool Cathedral:
Zometool Cathedral at its new place in the Dominformation.


This work is based on the following publications. You are free to use the results and images found on this website in you own work and research.

  • ZK14 Zometool Rationalization of Freeform Surfaces, Henrik Zimmer and Leif Kobbelt, TVCG 2014
  • ZLAK14 Zometool Shape Approximation, Henrik Zimmer, Florent Lafarge, Pierre Alliez and Leif Kobbelt, GMP 2014
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