3D PDFs Become a Powerful Tool for 3D Collaboration

June 11, 2008
While workflows that incorporate 3D data can offer substantial improvements in productivity across all departments in a manufacturing company, incorporating 3D into workflows has been a matter of finding ways to seamlessly integrate ...

While workflows that incorporate 3D data can offer substantial improvements in productivity across all departments in a manufacturing company, incorporating 3D into workflows has been a matter of finding ways to seamlessly integrate often incompatible file types and proprietary software until now.

That process has become much simpler because of a new release of software that generates Portable Document Format (PDF) files.

The PDF format was created by Adobe Systems Inc. ( in 1993 as an easy format that could be used to exchange documents. Until recently, the format was used to represent two-dimensional documents independent of application software, hardware and operating systems.

Each PDF file encapsulates a complete description of a 2D document that includes text, fonts, images and 2D vector graphics that compose the documents. With the introduction of Adobe Acrobat 3D, embedded 3D documents were included in the format.

Adobe now has released a significantly enhanced version of its Acrobat 3D package.

Called Acrobat 9 Pro Extended, the new release greatly extends the use of PDF format files in 3D workflows and enables a simple, seamless, inexpensive and easy way to integrate all documents related to a part or product.

The new release includes:

  • Easy conversion of CAD files using PDF templates.
  • The ability to save measurement markups.
  • Enhanced support for Product Manufacturing Information and views.
  • User controlled camera view creation.
  • Export to Stereolithography (STL) format with controlled precision.
  • Extended functionality in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
  • Improved visualization (solid outline) and conversion performance.
  • Support for new CAD formats and versions.
  • And the ability to incorporate animation and Flash videos in PDF files.
  • Acrobat 9 Pro Extended comes with 3D Reviewer that enables users to:
  • Merge heterogeneous CAD data into one assembly.
  • Analyze larger CAD assemblies.
  • Use advanced analysis tools for measuring, crosssectioning, comparing and more.
  • Capture complete Product Manufacturing Information (PMI) and parts associativity.
  • Repurpose design data to publish richer technical documentation.
  • And generate mold parting lines and analyze draft angles.

This new functionality gives users the ability to share all 2D and 3D product information quickly and easily by being able to convert virtually any product data into a single, compact PDF file.

Sensitive information can be protected and controlled by applying advanced document controls and security features.

The value of product data assets can be maximized by reusing precise models for downstream manufacturing processes and by repurposing 2D and 3D assets to create richer technical and promotional documentation. More effective collaboration across all levels and departments is enhanced by enabling Adobe Reader users to view, markup, cross-section or measure designs.

Product Manufacturing Information and Views created in any CAD application can be passed into a PDF file which enables reliable communication of product design information and manufacturing intent directly to the shop floor as well as the manufacturing, quality assurance, engineering, marketing and sales departments, customers and suppliers. The need to create and share 2D drawings is reduced or eliminated.

A new camera view creation tool enables users to have more control over camera properties, enabling users to adjust camera angles, orientation and position as accurately as desired to highlight precise areas of interest.

Being able to export to a stereolithography file enables 3D printing for creating rapid prototypes.

Support for embedding 3D CAD designs into Microsoft office documents such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint enables users to create new views directly with those documents and eliminates the need for editing in Adobe Acrobat.

Acrobat 9 Pro Extended can import large CAD assemblies created by different CAD formats into a single light-weight assembly and visualize, analyze and interact with large amounts of product data in real-time. Users can analyze designs faster and easier, improve their productivity and reduce manufacturing costs, quickly evaluate relationships between parts from different designers and immediately create new assemblies if needed. Easy to use tools can compare the difference between successive iterations of a design without the need for design application software, and different color codes can be used to display differences between unchanged, new or old geometry. This speeds up design revisions and helps to better understand design changes.

The new release allows access to critical physical properties information on part models or assemblies, and calculating bounding boxes, volume, center of gravity, mass and surface area. Cross-sectional views can be generated and measurements created based on precise CAD model geometry.

Design data can be repurposed to publish technical manuals, marketing brochures, catalogs and other information products.

Adobe’s new Acrobat 9 Pro Extended provides a powerful data exchange and collaboration tool in a format that people are already used to and already have free software to access. Developing an effective and efficient 3D workflow that incorporates and satisfies the needs of all areas and levels of a manufacturing organization, its customers and its suppliers has finally become a piece of cake.