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The 3D PDF format has revolutionized the way we share and communicate design data across multiple platforms. It allows users to embed 3D models and assemblies in a PDF file, making it easier to share and collaborate with others.

Two 3D file formats that can be used to embed 3D models and assemblies in a PDF file are U3D and PRC. Both of these formats provide the ability to embed 3D geometry in a PDF document, but there are differences between them.

PRC, also known as Product Representation Compact, was created in 2002 by TTF and is now published as an ISO standard (14739-1:2014). PRC is generally preferred over U3D because of its many advantages, such as shape definitions for NURBS, triangle mesh compression, annotations, PMI, and marks. Additionally, PRC is suitable for complex assemblies, making it the ideal choice for industries such as aerospace, automotive and defense.

U3D, on the other hand, was defined by the "3D Industry Forum" consortium, which includes companies such as Intel, Boeing, HP, Adobe Systems, Bentley Systems, Right Hemisphere, and others. Although U3D does not have the same level of functionality as PRC, it is still a useful tool for embedding 3D geometry into a PDF document. However, it is not recommended for complex assemblies or projects that require precise shape definitions.

PRC is generally preferred due to the following advantages:

  • Shape definitions for NURBS
  • Triangle Mesh Compression
  • Annotations, PMI, Markup (not on U3D)
  • Complex assemblies
  • The ISO's norm

One of the main advantages of using the 3D PDF format is its CAD interoperability capabilities. It allows users to easily share and communicate design data across multiple platforms, regardless of the CAD software used to create the original design. This interoperability is essential for collaborative projects because it ensures that all team members can access and work with the same design data.

In addition to its CAD interoperability capabilities, the 3D PDF format also allows for the inclusion of Accurate Geometry Representation (B-Rep), Tessellated (Triangulated) Presentation of B-Rep Geometry, assembly and PMI (3D annotations). This level of detail and functionality makes it an ideal choice for industries such as engineering, manufacturing and architecture.

CAD Interop distributes several softwares to view, translate and compare 3D PDF files. Find below the list of our solutions compatible with 3D PDF format:


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