August 27, 2007
Product Review: Adobe Acrobat 3D V8
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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It’s pretty evident that a lot of thought and work have gone into Acrobat 3D on several different levels – from the user interface to raw functionality. This could very well be the “production-ready” product that propels Acrobat out of its historic documentation market and into true engineering collaboration and the manufacturing market.

When using it with SolidWorks, probably the biggest drawback is that Acrobat 3D cannot handle drawings, but that’s OK – that’s what eDrawings is for. If nothing else, Acrobat 3D V8 makes a valiant attempt of bringing some sanity and standardization to the mess of securely passing MCAD documents around a collaborative environment. Is this the ultimate solution for dealing with the MCAD file format and visualization problem? On the one hand, no, it’s not perfect and there are other players who do something roughly analogous for specialized purposes. On the other hand, yes, largely because of the ubiquity and acceptance of the Acrobat Reader. More than anything, though,
it’s a start, and a welcome beginning to those who have to deal with myriad MCAD file formats for myriad users. Adobe did this years ago with PostScript for documents. Maybe it can repeat its success with Acrobat 3D, supplanting IGES and STEP with a compact file formats.

In a nutshell, below are some of the aspects of Adobe Acrobat 3D Version 8 that I experienced:


The ability to create and send a PDF of a model instead of model files containing intellectual property and/or proprietary information
  • The model PDF is read-only with the ubiquitous Acrobat Reader
  • Imports native SolidWorks, STEP, and Parasolid well
  • Section views
  • Level of output detail and accuracy can be set – U3D faceted (optimized performance) or PRC (greater tolerances and accuracy)
  • Measurement capabilities
  • Ability to export a solid from a PDF
  • Adding comments and marking-up models Model rotating, highlighting, and changing color
  • Rendering options

    Possible problems with large assemblies
  • Drawings cannot be imported
  • Rotating models can be challenging
  • Zooming can fail if zoomed in too close
  • Security capabilities are limited. For example, measure function cannot be disabled.
  • Some Parasolid imports placed parts in incorrect positions relative to origin of original model
  • Surfaces are sometimes imported when function is turned off
  • Pricey - twice as expensive as Adobe Acrobat 8.0 Professional

    $995 for the full version; $295 for upgrade from the previous version of Acrobat 3D; $545 for upgrade from Acrobat 8.0 Professional.

    The Week’s Top 5

    At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.

    Catalog Data Solutions (CDS) announced the results of a user survey conducted for J.W. Winco, Inc. CAD download customers. J.W. Winco Inc. provides a comprehensive selection of quality metal and plastic, metric and inch size standard machine components and assembly hardware. “Since implementing the CDS CAD solution in February of 2006, we are already seeing an average of over 850 downloads/month from our 18,000 CAD model library,” said John Winkler, J.W. Winco CEO, Office of the President. ”We and CDS wanted to find out what those CAD download customers thought – our survey revealed many insights and we’re delighted to share some of these:”

    On average designers said that nearly half of downloaded 3D-CAD models result in at least one order for that part.
  • 3D-CAD models save design time for 95% of designers (on average over ¾ hour per model and 9% of their total annual design time).
  • For 94% 3D-CAD model downloads help ensure design accuracy and minimize CAD errors.
  • For 82% downloadable 3D-CAD models get their designs to market faster.
  • 75% thought that 3D-CAD model downloads are important, very or extremely important in their selection of a supplier.
  • If a vendor doesn’t offer 3D-CAD downloads – at least 40% of designers will search for an equivalent part from another vendor that does offer CAD downloads.

    AutoForm Engineering GmbH, a supplier of software for sheet metal forming industry, announced a new release of EasyBlank, with enhancements specifically for meeting the requirements of the US market. EasyBlank calculates a developed blank outline from imported 3D CAD part geometry, using AutoForm-OneStep simulation technology. Material optimization and nesting layout are also calculated, making the software particularly useful at the quotation stage of a project. EasyBlank is free to download and use, and users of the software need only purchase the results they choose, making it attractive tool for both tool and die shops and stamping companies alike. Users who purchase their
    results online also receive a detailed report that contains information on material consumption, thinning distribution of the part, blank outline and optimal nesting layout. EasyBlank provides users with an early cost analysis, allowing the minimization of material costs and material usage and scrap.

    CAE unveiled Presagis, its new modeling and simulation software company. CAE combined its acquisitions of Engenuity Technologies, MultiGen-Paradigm, TERREX, and an existing CAE commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software team, to create an independent, company specializing in COTS modeling and simulation software. By offering a unified product portfolio, Presagis will simplify the procurement and support of COTS modeling and simulation software for the aerospace and defense industries.

    IMSI/Design released DesignCAD 3D Max. v18, targeted for those users requiring professional CAD at consumer prices. DesignCAD 3D Max v18 contains a number of new features and performance enhancements that include Smart Menus, Grouping Tools and Auto-fit Docked Toolboxes, which boost productivity by providing faster navigation and tool selection. Visualization has been improved by integrating rendering capabilities, new gradient fills, and new animation and walkthrough capabilities. The latest version also includes improved DWG/DXF compatibility, hatching, and Paper Space options. DesignCAD 3D Max v18 is available directly from IMSI/Design and is priced for retail at $99.95 in the

    CoCreate Software announced that CoCreate OneSpace Modeling has received the Certified for Windows Vista logo. By meeting the standards of the Certified for Windows Vista logo program, CoCreate's OneSpace Modeling delivers better performance and enhanced security on PCs running the Windows Vista operating system. CoCreate OneSpace Modeling will now carry the Certified for Windows Vista logo, and deliver a premium Windows Vista experience.

    By achieving the Certified for Windows Vista status, CoCreate OneSpace Modeling:

    Is independently tested for compatibility and functionality on Windows Vista-based PCs.
  • Provides enhanced security by implementing Microsoft security guidelines.
  • Meets privacy standards set forth by the Anti-Spyware Coalition.
  • Ensures compatibility with 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows Vista.
    Only Certified for Windows Vista software and devices have undergone Microsoft compatibility tests for ease of use, better performance, and enhanced security on PCs running the Windows Vista operating system.

    Jeffrey Rowe is the editor of
    MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at
    Email Contact or 408.850.9230.

    This Week

    Lead Story

    Product Review: Adobe Acrobat 3D V8

    Product and Company News

    You can find the full MCADCafe event calendar here.

    To read more news, click here.

    -- Jeff Rowe, Contributing Editor.


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