Do we really need 3D models in Word, Excel and PowerPoint ?

Along with Windows and Xbox Insiders, Microsoft also has an insider program for Office. The latest build adds a new feature, the ability to insert 3D models into Word,...

Along with Windows and Xbox Insiders, Microsoft also has an insider program for Office. The latest build adds a new feature, the ability to insert 3D models into Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. While its tempting to think this is heading in a similar direction to Adobe adding Flash support to PDFs, after using it, this is actually insanely useful for preparing modern documents.

When you’re finding images to populate your documents, its often incredibly difficult to find the right photo that shows objects in the orientation you want. Imagine you want to show the top, underbody, camera or battery ends of a drone. These would each require unique searches with operators to limit results that maybe return what you’re looking for. Instead, you can now open Word, click Insert, then select 3D Model and choose Remix3D to search against a growing list of community developed 3D models.

Items are categorised into categories like Animals, Classroom, Office Supplies, Electronics and Gadgets, Vehicles, Sports, Food and Drink, Flowers and Plants, Buildings, Science and more. You can of course also search the term you’re looking for or insert a 3D model of your own.

A little word of warning, consider the size of the 3D model, not the scale, but the Mb you’re adding as each items makes a typically small Office document into a pretty large file size.

Once you’ve inserted the 3D model (or models) its you can resize it like any other image or object, but there’s a new 3D rotation tool when clicking in the center. Just drag it to rotate to the angle you need. This actually works really well and I think I’ll be using it often in the future. If you run or work for a company that creates 3D models for clients, your task of delivering those models in a format easily consumable by clients just got a whole lot easier.

If you’re running a recent version of Windows 10 (Creators update or after), then you have the Paint3D app where you an create your own 3D objects and upload them to the Remix3D for you, your business or the world to use in their projects. Its a neat end-to-end 3D workflow that also includes the option to send 3D models to the printer (using the Print 3D app). Imagine not only showcasing 3D models in documentation, but also having the physical 3D representation of that model at a client meeting, impressive.

The number of 3D model use-cases in excel is fairly limited in my mind, but out of consistency across Office products, I understand why its there.

As for PowerPoint, this is another big opportunity for kids with school projects, or employees with real projects to quickly increase the professionalism of a presentation with high-quality models with no 3D modelling experience. This could help sell a concept, an idea to your boss, or client and is a serious step up from the clip-art of years gone by. Below you can see a quick example I put together in about a 30 seconds.

The office apps try to help you with 3D Model views to choose from. These are your typical set orientations for the 3D model, top, left, right, bottom, 3/4 etc. Personally after using it for a few minutes, I think you get a better result by modifying these a few degrees.


Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.