Example of 3D Surface Plot

A food scientist wants to determine the optimal time and temperature for heating a frozen dinner. The scientist prepares 14 samples at various times and temperatures, and then has professional food tasters rate each sample for overall quality. The scientist creates a 3D surface plot to examine the results.

  1. Open the sample data, FrozenDinnerPrep.MTW.
  2. Choose Graph > 3D Surface Plot > Surface.
  3. In Z variable, enter Quality.
  4. In Y variable, enter Temp.
  5. In X variable, enter Time.
  6. Click OK.

Interpret the results

Heating at the shorter time intervals results in under-cooked product and low quality scores. However, heating at the longest intervals combined with the highest temperatures also results in low scores because the food becomes over-cooked. The peak on the plot corresponds with the highest quality scores, and occurs at approximately Time = 35 and Temp = 400.


Rotate the graph to view the surface from different angles. Adjust light settings to better visualize the peaks and valleys of the surface. For more information, go to Select display options for 3D Scatterplot and 3D Surface Plot.