PDF In-Depth

Review: Adobe Acrobat 3D

About the Author

Filipe Pereira Martins and Anna Kobylinska

Filipe Pereira Martins and Anna Kobylinska are internationally renowned IT consultants and co-founders of Soft1T Consulting, which specializes in workflow design and automation for print, web, post production and...  More



With Acrobat 3D, its newest addition to the Acrobat family, Adobe pushed the envelope of PDF capabilities. Adobe Acrobat 3D expands next-generation PDF workflow into the 3D worlds of Manufacturing and AEC (architecture, engineering and construction).

Adobe Acrobat 3D comes just about a year after Adobe Acrobat 7 Professional. However, Adobe's latest addition to the Acrobat family of products is not a successor to any of the existing apps.

Acrobat 3D is aimed squarely at users of 3D CAD applications in AEC and BIM, manufacturing and R & D. As the ability to embed, view and navigate 3D content in PDF files was first introduced in Acrobat 7 Professional, it seems rather obvious that a dedicated 3D release of Acrobat had to venture beyond the established and the well known.

Interactive and truly portable

The idea of incorporating 3D data into PDF files introduced in Acrobat 7 Professional was as brilliant as it was limited. PDF files which carry 3D objects can be viewed in Adobe Reader 7, which extends their reach to an untold number of users. However, Acrobat 7 Professional offers only one way to integrate 3D data into a PDF file: through an intermediary file format called U3D (Universal 3D).

Adobe Acrobat 3D Comments and Views

In order to insert a 3D model into a PDF file, Acrobat 7 Professional requires you to have it converted into the U3D file format first. As good as it sounds in theory this approach is not without a considerable downside. While U3D is admittedly an open specification developed by the 3D Industry Forum including Adobe, Bentley Systems, Boeing, Hewlett Packard, Intel and Right Hemisphere and thus open to everyone, not all relevant 3D applications are yet capable of writing a 3D model to a U3D file for processing in Adobe Acrobat 7 Professional. The new Adobe Acrobat 3D has finally lifted this limitation.

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