Interactive 3D models in PDF documents

A picture is worth a thousand words. How much would an interactive 3D Model be worth? See this sample 3D_Model PDF to help you decide.

Universal 3D is a compressed file format for 3D computer graphics data, and Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader have support embedding and viewing these 3D models for some time now (since version 7).

Traditionally, there have been two methods to add  a 3D model to the PDF document:

  • Use Acrobat to embed a 3D model ( In Acrobat X, choose  Tools > Content > Multimedia > 3D). This method requires you to add a placeholder image or white space on the page where the model can be inserted.
  • Using the 3D CAD software to publish the 3D model as a PDF, and then use Acrobat to insert the page into an existing PDF file. You’ll also need to renumber the pages etc.

Both methods are cumbersome and require manual intervention.

Now, using TCS you can insert 3D CAD file formats into your document source files. On publishing, they are embedded into your PDF output. Doesn’t break your workflow, no manual intervention required. Pretty cool! so lets see how to do it.

Insert a 3D file

You can insert 3D models into your FrameMaker documents, just as you would insert images or any other files.

  1. Open your document.
  2. Choose File > Import > File
  3. Browse to a .u3d file and click Import.
  4. Select a DPI Setting and click Set.

    Insert 3D files to a FrameMaker document

    Insert 3D files to a FrameMaker document

Set initial view properties

You can specify initial view options for the 3D model from within FrameMaker. No need to approach the designer or learn a CAD software for making minor adjustments. You can specify options such as background colors, lighting, render modes, and existing views from within FrameMaker.

  1. Right-click on the object and choose 3D Menu.
  2. Select an option as required:
    • Background color
    • Lighting
    • Show Existing Views
  • Render Mode

    3D menu in FrameMaker

    3D menu in FrameMaker

Vikrant is a technical communicator at Adobe and can be reached via twitter @vikrantrai, and blogs at

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