Software Makes CAD Files Portable

Software Makes CAD Files Portable

Adobe Systems Inc. ( has released a major upgrade to Adobe Acrobat 3D, version 8, intended to make 3D design collaboration and CAD data interoperability capabilities easy for virtually anyone inside manufacturing organizations and across global supply chains.

With version 8, Acrobat 3D users can convert almost any 3D CAD file — including large assemblies of more than 500 megabytes — into a single Portable Document Format (PDF) document. The PDF file can maintain precise geometry or be compressed more than 100 times smaller than the original file, depending on the needs of the specific business process. Three-dimensional CAD data can also be easily combined with other critical project information, such as product specifications, spreadsheets and bills of materials, into a secure PDF document containing product manufacturing information (PMI). PMI is used to convey geometric dimensioning and tolerances, annotations and other specifications directly on a 3D model.

Once 3D models are combined with other documents in a PDF document, Acrobat 3D users can enable colleagues, suppliers, partners, and customers to participate in an efficient document review process, leveraging the free, ubiquitous Adobe Reader software. Adobe Reader users can view detailed product structure and, when enabled by Acrobat 3D version 8, have the ability to use commenting, measurement and cross-section tools directly on 3D objects in a PDF document. By helping engage technical and nontechnical team members in 3Dbased communications throughout the product life cycle, the software can help workgroups diminish the risk of misunderstandings, discover design flaws earlier, and speed product development.

"Acrobat 3D and PDF have gained considerable traction in manufacturing and AEC over the past year as a means for driving 3D-based communication and collaboration processes leveraging a ubiquitous, trusted file format," said Tom Hale, senior vice president, Knowledge Worker Business Unit at Adobe. "We encourage anyone with interest in 3D to experience the dramatic advances we've made in terms of file compression, precision and CAD data interoperability."

"It's not often the manufacturing industry experiences a genuine change in its work processes," said Gisela Wilson, director of IDC's Product, Project and Portfolio Management Solutions service ( "Based on the wide reach and acceptance of Adobe Reader, innovations in 3D PDF, and its CAD-neutral approach, Adobe has the potential to help change key collaboration processes in extended manufacturing enterprises with the latest version of Acrobat 3D."

"SolidWorks and Adobe have a common goal of helping people communicate most effectively with 3D data," said Rainer Gawlick, vice president of Worldwide Marketing, SolidWorks Corp. "And now, more than ever, manufacturers must efficiently exchange and collaborate on 3D data in to succeed in the marketplace. As recent industry examples have illustrated, the manufacturing market is ripe for tools that enable collaboration on 3D data in a more secure, lightweight fashion across different versions of CAD formats and beyond the firewall to the entire supply chain."

Acrobat 3D Version 8 supports conversion to 3D PDF from more than 40 formats, including those for Autodesk Inventor, Dassault Systemes CATIA, PTC Pro/ENGINEER, SolidWorks, and UGS NX and I-deas. Users also have the option of exporting precise manufacturing CAD data from PDF into neutral file formats such as STEP, IGES and Parasolid for downstream processes such as machining operations and tool and mold design.

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