Creating PDF’s from DWG’s without AutoCAD!

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How many times have you gotten a DWG file from some where and needed to view, collaborate, mark up, or print it and didn’t have AutoCAD or a proprietary viewer du jour to do it with. Well Acrobat 8 Professional and Acrobat 3D version 8 handles that for you by creating a feature rich PDF without having AutoCAD on your system.


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With Acrobat 8 Professional you can create 2D PDF’s with out having AutoCAD on your system, and with Acrobat 3D version 8 you can create 3D PDF’s from 3D dwg files again with out having AutoCAD on your systems! No, don’t pinch yourself your not dreaming! This is just one more bonus you get from Acrobat 8 Professional, saving not having to buy a CAD seat for someone that does not need it.

Ok got your interest up? Let’s take a look at how we create 2D and 3D PDF’s from DWG files without having a seat of AutoCAD.

First find your directory that has your DWG files, then simply Right Mouse Click and select Convert to Adobe PDF

In a few moments you will get a PDF that will have all views that are in the DWG file in the PDF.  What I mean by that is by default AutoCAD has Model Space and Paper Space (or Layouts) you can have multiple layouts and by using this method, you will get all layout tabs as well as the model space tab. 

Paper Space (Layout View)

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Model Space view

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Notice here the size differential. The PDF File is now searchable, all links preserved, tagged, and is now screen reader enabled.  100% full fidelity. 

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So what about multiple files at once?  You can SHIFT Select a group of AutoCAD files and Right Mouse Click and then select Combine Supported Files in Acrobat..  This will bring up the Combine Dialogue box and allow you to rearrange the DWG files, and even select which layouts you want to add to the PDF!

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Here I am selecting which layout I want in my PDF, I do not want to add the Model Space info to the PDF

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Once I have selected all my views, I can then decide if I want a single PDF or a PDF Package (the difference of these will be covered in another entry), here I select the Single PDF option.

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When the combine is finished (about 23 seconds in this case for all 9 PDF’s) we save the PDF, did you notice that on the bottom of the dialogue that the final PDF is 1.01MB vs the AutoCAD files being 2.90MB!

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A beautiful combined PDF is the result of this workflow, notice I get all my bookmarks, all layers are preserved, view scale is preserved, everything you would expect is there!

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Let’s move to the world of 3D.  So now someone gives you a 3D DWG, what do you do?  Well if you have Acrobat 3D Version 8 you simply follow you bouncing mouse and drag and drop the DWG file into Acrobat 3D Version 8 and….

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you get a (in this case) 2 page PDF file with the 2D layout of the model and…

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the fully interactive, measurable, mark upable, fully Adobe Reader enabled 3D PDF!

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Think of the time and cost savings of using Acrobat 8 Professional and Acrobat 3D Version 8 to create these PDF files. The down stream users benefit most, they do not require CAD knowledge or a CAD seat to create rich interactive PDF’s that can be measured, sent for review (using Acrobat’s Red Line and Review tools, again in an entry soon.) and the best thing is anyone with the Free Adobe Reader can have the same fun with the files.  Did you know that over the last 18 months we have had 525,000 downloads of the Free Adobe Reader?  With Acrobat 8 Professional and above you can turn on functionality for red lining, measuring, digital signatures, collaboration, and a host of other functions.  In the AEC and EPC industry our documents are our cash if the people that need our files can not read them and interact with them we don’t get paid, it’s real simple.  I like getting paid so, I’m choosing PDF for my projects.

Ok well it’s Friday afternoon, my boys have soccer tonight, so I had better be getting out of here.  Remember to keep some life in your life!

Tim Huff
Acrobat for AEC
Acrobat in the AEC and EPC Industry