How to Review a 3D Model in PDF

Cross-team technical reviews of 3D model data using 3D PDF work-flows

If you work with 3D, it’s likely that you’re working within a larger team and perhaps directly with an external client.  Whether you’re sharing a 3D visualisation with a colleague, client,  or other external stakeholder, the review experience is a critical part of your workflow and key to a project completing on time.

As we’ve discussed in previous articles, the power and sophistication of many 3D software tools doesn’t always trickle down to the sharing part of the process, and in many cases, collaboration suffers due to file size or incompatibility issues.

Vendor neutral file formats such as STEP and STL can overcome some of those problems to a degree but they don’t always offer the immersive review experience needed to fully explore a 3D model and not everyone in the team, and importantly the client, may have or be familiar with the specialist viewing tools needed, even if they are frrely available.

The Benefits of 3D PDF as a format for viewing 3D data

3D PDF has emerged as one of the better formats for viewing 3D designs and models for a number of reasons:

  1. 3D PDF compresses large 3D files without sacrificing critical data, making it easier to share and store
  2. 3D PDF is universally accessible on pretty much every computer via Adobe’s free Acrobat reader software, and most users are already very familiar with this ubiquitous software making it exceptionally user-friendly
  3. 3D PDF documents can be locked down with access restrictions for added security
  4. 3D PDF documents can be enhanced with additional features such as labels, textures and annotations
  5. 3D PDF offers many viewing perspectives such as zoom, rotate, spin and animation for a rich and interactive presentation. It also includes the ability to create preset views – useful to highlight particular aspects of a 3D presentation.

It’s this fifth point that makes 3D PDF a particularly appealing one for anyone looking to improve the reviewing experience of a 3D model.

The process for converting a 3D file into a 3D PDF is easy with today’s technology and PDF3D’s advanced tools.

Working in a programme such as PDF3D’s ReportGen, for example, allows you to convert your 3D file into a 3D PDF that can be fully animated to show a timeline of events or manufacture.  Using the time-lapse feature, you can visually show how parts of a prototype come together or how an object or landscape reacts to different treatments or effects.

And, because everyone can view a 3D PDF on their system simultaneously, walk throughs of a project are incredibly easy.

With floating labels and annotations, heat maps, textures, meshes and colours, the designer can create a deep and immersive viewing experience with the detail needed for fast decision-making and sign-off too

When so much work has gone into the design or research of a 3D design or model, it makes sense that the viewing experience doesn’t leave others in the project unable to review that data in all its glory.  3D PDF enables that and more.

For those “no way this will work, send it back” moments…

The 3D PDF mark-up, comment and review using the free Adobe Reader or other products such as Acrobat Pro is very straight forward. An “Add Comment” menu appears as soon as the mouse cursor is active in a 3D view. Comments are added by simply clicking on some 3D part, dragging out a lead-line and adding a comment and then saving that view. Once the full review is completed the document is  saved and the marked-up version complete with the essential feedback is easily shared with the extended team.

Learn more about using 3D PDF in science, engineering, design, manufacturing, medicine and dentistry, architecture and more.