Import geometry from STL data


gd = importGeometry(model,geometryfile)



importGeometry(model,geometryfile) creates a geometry container from the specified STL geometry file, and includes the geometry in the model container.

gd = importGeometry(model,geometryfile) also returns the geometry to the MATLAB® workspace.


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Import STL geometry into a PDE model.

Create a PDEModel container for a system of three equations.

model = createpde(3);

Import geometry into the container.


View the geometry with face labels.


Import a planar STL geometry into a PDE model. When importing a planar geometry, importGeometry converts it to a 2-D geometry by mapping it to the X-Y plane.

Create a PDEModel container.

model = createpde;

Import geometry into the container.

ans = 
  DiscreteGeometry with properties:

       NumCells: 0
       NumFaces: 1
       NumEdges: 5
    NumVertices: 5

View the geometry with edge labels.


Input Arguments

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Model object, specified as a PDEModel object, ThermalModel object, or StructuralModel object.

Example: model = createpde(1)

Example: thermalmodel = createpde('thermal','steadystate')

Example: structuralmodel = createpde('structural','static-solid')

Path to STL file, specified as a character vector or a string scalar ending with the file extension .stl or .STL.

Example: '../geometries/Carburetor.stl'

Data Types: char | string

Output Arguments

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Geometry description, returned as a DiscreteGeometry object. See DiscreteGeometry Properties for details.


  • importGeometry does not allow you to import a multidomain 3-D geometry unless all of its subdomains are separate. In other words, the subdomains of the geometry cannot have any common points. Because of this limitation, you cannot import nested 3-D geometries directly. As a workaround, you can import a mesh and then create a multidomain geometry from the mesh by using the geometryFromMesh function.


  • STL format approximates the boundary of a CAD geometry by a collection of triangles, and importGeometry reconstructs the faces and edges from this data. Reconstruction from STL data is not precise and can result in a loss of edges and, therefore, the merging of adjacent faces. Typically, lost edges are the edges between two adjacent faces meeting at a small angle, or smooth edges bounding blend surfaces. Usually, the loss of such edges does not affect the analysis workflow.

Introduced in R2015a