acrobat 3dAfter being chained in the basement for a few weeks to check out the brand spankin’ new Acrobat 3D I found the good, bad and some things that made me just barely fall out of my chair. I’ll leave out the part where I saw flying monkeys. I think that had to do with the lack of sunlight.

In less than a couple minutes, I can share a small model with the Design group and get feedback. This is typically the bottleneck in a very iterative design process. Acrobat 3D makes it easy and secure to share stuff, but there’s also some things that could be improved. Let’s have a look.

How does it work?

Well, you have a couple options. Starting with SolidWorks 2007 you can save a model as a 3D PDF. The other way is to open a SolidWorks part or assembly directly in Acrobat 3D, sorry no drawings. You can also import .step, .x_t, catia, pro/e and wrl and u3d.

The Lowdown

tick iconGood cross iconBad
  • Imports native SolidWorks, .step, .x_t easily
  • Rotate, highlight, make trasparent, change color
  • Many options for render mode
  • Awesome Section Views
  • Instead of opeining large model, I can open this and measure
  • I can send this instead of all the model files
  • You can view it in Acrobat Reader and it’s read-only
  • Conversion settings allow you to export the solid from the PDF
  • You can add comments and mark-ups on the model
  • .x_t imports with misplaced parts
  • Has troubles with large assemblies, greater than 4.5MB
  • Surfaces import even though it’s turned off
  • Can’t import drawings
  • Rotating stuff is not very intuitive
  • Zooming breaks sometimes when zoomed in close
  • Security policies are limited. Can’t disable measure.
  • Loading a native file with some conversion settings takes a long time for large assemblies. Not unexpected, but when it did convert it took a really, really long time or would crash

File Sizes

Overall, you’re gonna get better result importing into Acrobat 3D. Files sizes were smaller for files exported from SolidWorks as Pro/E (.prt) and parasolids (.x_t) and the largest file sizes were from files saved out of SolidWorks as a 3D PDF. I’ll show some of this in detail tomorrow.

What’s the coolest?

Out of everything, the section view capabilites are amazing. It’s very quick, has multiple tilt options and you can save the views. Since you can’t actually bring drawings into Acrobat 3D, eDrawings will still dominate, but I can see where something like this could give eDrawings a run for the money. I’m going to throw up some scenarios over the next few days to show what happens when you actually use Acrobat 3D in a production environment with SolidWorks.

Related Product Sites

Adobe Acrobat 3D
The Acrobat 3D Tour

See Part 2 and Part 3 of this series


Josh is founder and editor at, 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.