If you pour PDF’s on your shredded wheat in the morning, you may know that Acrobat X was officially released Monday, but that sour taste in your mouth… it’s not the milk.

That ‘X’ stand for version 10. However, it’s got a little more significance to those who use Acrobat to create 3D PDF’s. Adobe X’ed the 3D PDF import/export functionality and stripped the 3D libraries out of the product. Tetra4D has the 3D PDF Converter plugin to give you the capability, but it’s going to cost you.

3D PDF Converter

Tetra is offering two version of the plugin: 3D PDF Converter ($399) for the plugin alone and 3D PDF Converter Premium ($799) which comes packaged with Adobe Acrobat X Pro and the 3D Reviewer software. Oh, on top of all of that there’s a required M&S contract for $99 ($199 Premium version) annually, whether you’re buying it new or getting an upgrade… required. (Note: They are currently offering a no cost upgrade for Acrobat 9 Pro users current on their Adobe Upgrade Plan.)

Apples to Apples

So comparing prices, Adobe Acrobat 9.0 Pro Extended (with 3D import/export capability) sold at $699 per license. The cost of Acrobat X is $449. Add $498 ($399 product + $99 M&S) for the 3D PDF Converter plugin to that… $947 ($998 Premium option). Yeah, you’re paying a bit more.

SolidWorks and 3D PDF

SolidWorks allows you to select an option to save a model as a 3D PDF. It’s not evident that Tetra4D’s takeover of the 3D conversion affects this functionality in SolidWorks. Adobe Acrobat isn’t required to create the 3D PDF. I’ve asked how this is being handled from Tetra4D. I imagine they’ll be licensing the software at some point or making the API available to developers. So right now, there are two options if you want to be able to import/export 3D data via PDF. You’ll either need to stick with Acrobat 9 Pro Extended or get the Tetra4D 3D PDF Converter.

Tetra4D to talk to the users

This Thursday, November 18th, Acrobatuser.com will be hosting an eSeminar on Acrobat X and 3D PDF with Tetra4D discussing the new plugin and hopefully giving the users something more than “how Acrobat X will save time and help you standardize your product data exchange and design review processes in manufacturing.” This would be an opportunity to ask them what’s going on. More here.

The only positive thing I’m seeing out of this, at the moment, is Tetra4D taking the 3D import/export tech and extending it beyond what Adobe was able to do with it. Your thoughts?


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.