PDF in 3D
As I mentioned earlier, Acrobat has had 3D tools for a couple versions now so the tools have had time to mature. Acrobat 9 supports a wide range of 3D file formats (3DS, U3D, SolidWorks formats and more) and Pro Extended can add 3D models from any of these file formats. In contrast, Acrobat 9 Pro can only add models from U3D ECMA 1 files. Moreover, Acrobat 9 Pro is limited to what it can do with 3D of any kind:
- Add 3D models (U3D only)
- Move, delete and/or resize 3D canvases
- Interact with 3D models: change views, lighting, camera properties and more
- Handle 3D models: create cross-sections, measure lengths and comment on various views
Acrobat 9 Pro Extended can do all that and a good deal more. Here are functions exclusive to Pro Extended:
- Add 3D models from many more file formats
- Convert 3D files into PDFs with the PRC or U3D conversion format and control conversion settings
- Create 3D PDF templates in Microsoft Office applications
- Save conversion presets for 3D files
- Convert large 3D assemblies
- Capture 3D models in position. Note that Acrobat 9 Pro Extended ships with a Capture Utility for use on the UNIX operating system.
- Insert 3D models in Microsoft Office applications
- Use the included Adobe 3D Reviewer application to merge CAD files, compare and measure geometry, move and delete parts, animate, create exploded views and export to raster and vector files.
- View the Product Manufacturing Information (PMI) of CAD files
- Export 3D geometry for use in CAD and CAE applications
I use Strata 3D CX 5 for my 3D work, and it was very easy to bring my 3D models into Acrobat 9 Pro Extended. The native S3D is not one of Acrobat’s supported file formats but I converted to VRML and it imported with no problem.
Like I mentioned earlier, Acrobat had 3D tools in its last version. Two years ago I first saw the 3D features in Acrobat 8 Professional and I was thoroughly impressed, but I have to admit that since then I have never had a need to create a PDF with 3D models. The need just hasn’t come up in my work. Designers for print and the web probably have as little need for 3D tools as I do. However, that’s not to say other designers don’t need these toolsâ€”I’m sure Adobe created Acrobat 3D because their 3D customer market clamored for it. If you’re one of those customers, you’ll appreciate what you can do with 3D in Acrobat 9 Pro Extended.