adobe 8Ok, I’m at the end of this series (Part 1 and Part 2) on Acrobat 3D and I’m going to finish it off with how it would work for data exchange of an assembly. I’m going to do what most would probably think of doing first and open up a SolidWorks assembly directly into Acrobat 3d. I’m gonna use data exchange as the method of conversion for a 2MB file.

5 minutes later…

Ok, that, surprisingly, took a little time. I’ve imported the assembly model into Acrobat 3d. It looks good, I can move around well, measure, and hide stuff. I’ll save it as a .pdf (583kb) and then right click on it to export the data. Phew! The conversion to a parasolid (.x_t) took nearly 15 minutes to complete. Why? First, let’s look at what happened when it was imported into Acrobat 3D:

  1. Created assemblies of each configuration and put them in a main assembly instead of keeping the structure.
  2. Converted everything, including each part, to an assembly – weird
  3. Put all the parts on the origin – very weird, and bad unless you model everything top down
  4. Created over 4 times more parts – a part for every configuration of every part
  5. Slow to do just about anything – saving took the longest, about 3.5 minutes. Rotating and moving was also very difficult
  6. Exported parasolid was over 5 MB (2.5 times larger than original file) as opposed to a 781 kb parasolid exported from SolidWorks

What the heck?

I’m going to attribute the slowness and file size to #4 – creating a part of every configuration of every part. That’s a part for every configuration of every screw, nut, etc. That’s a big load on the system.

This is not all bad, at least I got some geometry I could use, although it looks disassembled and there’s a bazillion files and it’s slow as a dead horse.

Is there another way?

I got it to work…better… by exporting it first from SolidWorks as a .x_t, importing it into Acrobat 3d and then exporting it as a parasolid. It converted the data faster, but you still get all the configs of all the parts and the parts moved to the origin. dang it!

So, what works the best?

Finally. Ok, when you export it from SolidWorks as a .prt, .wrl or .step from SolidWorks and then importing to Acrobat 3D it works wonderfully. It imported quickly, measured correctly, exported quickly to .x_t, kept all the parts where they were suppose to be and did not create parts for every configuration of every part. The pdf file sizes were small too, just over 200kb for each. The parasolids created were quite a bit larger however at 7MB.


I tried exporting the model from SolidWorks as several other formats, 3d pdf, .cgr, and u3d. Exporting as 3d pdf and u3d both resulted in a scaled down model, so measuring became useless (you can set scale, but I couldn’t get it exact) and will not give the option to export the data. The .cgr scaled up. In my opinion, yes, the same as yesterday, converting to a .step from SolidWorks and importing it into Acrobat 3d is the way to go. It retains the geometry, is measurable and the file size is small. It exports data to parasolid quickly and accurately. I can now send a 225kb .pdf, instead of a 1.5MB parasolid. This isn’t the most direct approach, but if you sharing data for CNC operation or collaboration, this is the best choice.


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.