What is the best way to share technical data with stakeholders outside of engineering? One of the issues with sharing technical data is the fact that many of the intended recipients are non-technical, that means they don’t use 3D CAD. The types of users involved can also vary widely in terms of the type of devices they would be receiving the data on, such as desktops, laptops or mobile devices, such as phones or tablets.
The solution is 3D PDF. Everyone knows about the ubiquitous PDF and how useful it is when sharing documents. In fact, everyone has the Adobe PDF reader. What may not be known is that the standard Adobe PDF Reader (that everyone has) can display interactive 3D data and can contain other related information as well – think of it as a container – more on that later.
What makes 3D PDF an ideal solution?
It is that it is easy to use, free, already is on the computer (and apps are available for tablets), and enables anyone inside or outside of a company to easily access and use the valuable 3D engineering data via their desktop or mobile device–without additional licensing costs.
The 3D PDF Components are sharing of your interactive 3D model is only the beginning. The 3D PDF is a container. Adobe designed a tremendous amount of flexibility into this powerful file format. Other data structures that might be included could be any that have a relationship to the CAD assembly model data—for instance, 1. Part Lists 2. The procedures for completing a task, also known as work instructions or tasks 3. The snapshots and animations of the steps of an assembly process or a service procedure.
Using the 3D PDF standalone or part of PLM/PDM processes
It doesn’t matter if you are a small engineering company or a Fortune 100 manufacturing company, using 3D PDF for sharing interactive 3D models with related information (including PMI) is probably the best way to share with any stakeholder. If you are a big company, you will most certainly have a PLM or PDM system, and the 3D PDF can easily be tucked in with all the rest of your files. If you are a small company, the 3D PDF can become a mini PDM system using its container capabilities to hold all of the above items as well as the original CAD data format and neutral formats, such as IGES and STEP.
There are many 3D PDF generation solutions on the market today — most simply convert CAD geometry– that’s all. The more robust solutions usually require scripting and programming. Lattice Technology offers a solution that enables a person without CAD experience and without programming or scripting to easily and quickly create these powerful 3D PDFs with extended information. The solution uses a template approach, which allows users to establish standards for their 3D PDFs.