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What is a PRC File?

PDF3D-FileType-ICON-v5_PRCPut simply, if you want to create a 3D PDF in Adobe’s Acrobat® X or XI Pro, you’ll need a PRC file (or U3D file) to do it. Acrobat can load and embed a PRC file into a PDF page. Once embedded, the 3D PDF can be viewed using the free Adobe Reader. The PRC file contains the actual 3D geometry.

So what is a PRC file?

A PRC file (Product Representation Compact) is a 3D file format – not to be confused with the PRC file formats used in e-books (Palm Resource Compiler), or the People’s Republic of China. The 3D PRC file format referred to in this article is used to embed 3D models and data into PDF documents.

In fact, PRC is now the preferred and most feature-rich method used to embed 3D interactive data and models into a PDF file. As of 2013, PRC has also now been approved as a new ISO standard.

Who uses PRC file format?

PRC is widely used, and heavily depended on, by the manufacturing and engineering industries. This has recently spread to the medical, aerospace and earth sciences environments too including those involved in scanning, mining and geospatial exploration.

Engineers, designers, scientists, analysts, managers, marketers and researchers all rely on the PRC encoding method to create PDF technical reports and presentations to demonstrate data from Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM), Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE), and Product Life-Cycle Management (PLM) systems to name but a few.

The reason for its widespread use is that PRC files allow users, and developers, to compress large amounts of complex 3D data into smaller, interactive files that can be viewed and shared easily, and safely, in a PDF format.

This is because the PRC format comprises of structure, geometry and product manufacturing information (PMI) metadata which enables 3D visual representations of data with conceptual layers and varying levels of spatial tolerance.

How do you convert 3D data into PRC for PDF?

If you need to generate 3D PDFs there are tools available that will enable you to convert your data automatically into the PRC format so that it can be instantly embedded into a 3D PDF at the touch of a button. In fact, most people skip over creating an actual PRC file, preferring to generate the 3D PDF with PRC in one pass.

For superior visual quality, and ease of use, the products and plugins provided by 3D experts PDF3D enable developers to add 3D PDF functionality to their existing software, as well as allowing individual users to convert their files quickly in just a few simple steps. It is worth exploring their products in more depth:

Users – read more about PDF3D ReportGen here.

Developers – read more about PDF3D SDK here.

Want to know more about the technical advantages of PRC over U3D? Read next week’s blog to find out or contact us to receive our regular newsletter.

To see how others are using PDF3D products, take a look at the latest 3D PDF examples, or contact, the development team for a tour of the new version online.

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