Software to create and open 3D PDF file

What is 3D PDF

In many fields, including mechanical engineering, architectural engineering, 3d printing, etc. , 3D design has become an essential method for designers to visualize their ideas. Most 3d models need to be openned with a special software, such as solidworks, Maya, 3ds max, etc. However, it is impossible to install all these soft ware packages on your computer. The 3D PDF file format is a perfect visual solution enabling users to gain rich and interactive 3D  documents view-able. And it can be opened with the free Adobe Reader. The following is a free sample.

This format is an internationally recognized standard PDF file (the format supporting texts, links, images, multimedia content, etc.) and it contains some 3D models displayable interactively. You can rotate, illuminate the embedded 3D model, make visible its cross-sections, different views, learn quotation and annotation details. These are not visible in the conventional PDF file.

To create and modify this format files, you need a special software program. And if you want to view them, you just make use of Adobe Reader (a free program). In the program, you can explore 3D models interactively, zooming, rotating, moving them and even navigating to targeted part and assembly structures.

This format has become for exchange of documents on any level. It cannot be used to manufacture the 3d model on CNC machine or 3D printer.

Tools to create 3D PDF file

You can export this format file directly in some software packages. For example, you can do that with solidworks composer. However, there are some software packages that don’t support you to do that. For these software packages, the following tools may be helpful.

SimLab Composer is a great tool to export interactive 3d pdf files with objects actions, animations, scene states, textures and more.You can customize your templates. It supports many import formats: SketchUp, FBX,dae, IGES,STEP, Rhino, U3D, 3D XML,OBJ, 3ds, OSG, STL, DWF/DWFX,Solidworks, Gltf/Glb, Zbrush(.GoZ), SolidEdge, Inventor, IFC, DWG, DXF,JT. There are many features, and it is much more than a 3d pdf tool. You can only have this software to create 3D PDF from many different formats.

This plugin enables Maya users to share their 3D models in PDF format. Users can use Template Designer to create stunning templates easily that can be used in documents. There are some sample templates, and they can be customized in just a few clicks to elicit the spirit of the 3D product.
It can work on Maya 2010-2013 (32 and 64-bit), and on Maya 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and 2018 (64-bit), on Windows and Mac.

It enables Inventor users to export their 3D models in customized  PDF file format. The size of the file is smaller, it is not possible to change the model in this format, and viewing the 3D models inside PDF only requires the Free Adobe Reader. The Adobe reader is available on almost every machine.

The plugin is available on Inventor 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 (32, and 64-bit), 2017, and 2018 (64-bit), 2019.

It enables users to share their 3ds Max models in  PDF file format.
The plugin is supported on 3ds Max / 3ds Max Design 2010-2013 (32 and 64-bit), and on 3ds Max / 3ds Max Design 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 (64-bit), 2019.

It is a software component that adds a sharing feature to Revit application. The purpose of this tool is to allow users to share their designs in  PDF .
Versions Supported: Exporter works with Revit 2013 (32-bit and 64-bit), 2014 (32-bit and 64-bit) and 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 (64-bit).

It enables Navisworks users to export their three-dimension models in *.pdf file format.
Navisworks 2013, and 2014 (32 and 64-bit), and on Navisworks 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 (64-bit) all support the plugin.

How to open 3D PDF file

In windows system, you need to get a free PDF reader. Download the free PDF reader here. The interactive functionality will not work if you open the file with browsers. So you must open the file a pdf application.
You can get some free 3DPDF files and test them.

  • Double click on the file you want to open
  • Trust the file
  • Click the blank area
  • One second, you will see the 3D model.
  • You can rotate, zoom, pan the 3d model or measure the 3d model as needed.


When you rotate the 3d model, maybe it doesn’t move as your desire. Try this: Right Click>Part Options>Fit Visible.

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