3D PDF: A Free Revit Viewer.

13 Nov

UPDATED: July 09, 2012.

In 2010, I wrote a blog post on using Adobe Acrobat 9 Extended to create 3D PDFs from a Revit model by exporting it to IFC. In 2011, I published the article in AugiWorld. Shortly after the article was published, the 3D PDF world changed. Adobe released Acrobat X and dropped support for every file type except U3D and PRC. Revit doesn’t export to U3D or PRC, so now what?.

Well 3DA Systems has released a Revit plugin – PDF Converter for Revit – that runs in 2012 and 2013 and allows you to create a full page 3D PDF with the click of a button, or export a PRC and using Acrobat X, insert the model into your document.

I received a trial of PDF Converter for Revit and tested it out.

I wrote down two criteria that the PDF Converter needed to meet:

  1. It had to allow me to import the model in to a PDF that I designed, and
  2. It had to export the model data.

No data in the PDF defeats the purpose of a 3D Revit model, and by not allowing me to design where the model is placed in the PDF, it inhibits my uses of the model. I want to create cut sheets and marketing materials. So, my model must import in to these documents.

The 3D PDF Converter met both of these criteria. It did everything that I could do with Adobe 9 Extended, but it also added an add-in toolbar in Revit which allowed for the quick creation of a full page 3D model with a single click.

The plugin installs with a Windows executable and took less than a minute. After launching Revit, the add-in is now available.


3DA Systems Add-In

The add-in has three options:

  1. Help – which you should not need.
  2. Create PDF – will create a full page PDF of the {3D} view.
  3. Create PRC – which will create a PRC that can be imported in to Adobe.

I almost always prefer creating a PRC; however, I can see times when I just need to send a model and the page design is irrelevant. For those times, the create PDF button is all you need.

After creating the {3D} View, select Create PDF. You will be prompted to save the file. Select a location and name and save the file. Then you will be able to select the export options and finalize the 3D PDF.


General Settings. Make sure “METADATA not Included” is unchecked.

When to enable and disable the content

How to Display 3D Content. I check Open Model Tree.

The single most important box to UNCHECK is “Metadata Not Included” in the General Settings Tab. If you check this box, you will lose all of the information and properties associated with your model components. When you click on a wall, it will be highlighted in the model tree, but the data – height, length, material… – will not appear.

That is all you need to do to create a full page 3D PDF: click Create PDF, edit the settings, and done!

To embed your Revit model in to a PDF which has already been created, export the {3D} View to PRC. When you click “Create PRC” you will get the same options window, but only the General tab is available.

Here is my designed PDF that will hold my model.


Open the PDF in Acrobat X. On the top right menu you can select “TOOLS” and a toolbar will be placed on the right side of the window.

Select “Multimedia” and then “3D.” Your cursor will turn to cross-hairs and you can draw a box where you want the model to go.

You will be asked to select the file. Choose the PRC that you exported from Revit.

That is it. You now have a 3D PDF of your Revit model.

My PDF with the Model

You can share this model and anyone with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader will be able to view the model, cut sections, measure, and see the object properties. As with any PDF, you can lock it down. I added a password to my PDF in the document properties to open the file and to print.

Download MyPDF. The password to open it is “bim.”

There are so many things you can do with a 3D PDF. You can use it for project information sheets, for construction administration, to create an archive of projects, send them to clients and consultants, or use them in marketing materials.

3D PDFs were, and still are, an under appreciated technology. 3D PDFs compress models to a size that is beyond belief – the 6.7M sample file is only 384kb as a PDF.

The 3D PDF Converter for Revit makes creating 3D PDFs simple. As a private consultant, I do not have a huge budget for additional add-ins, but the plug-in is affordable. Currently you can get it for $99, but even full price it is only $150. My examples were done in Revit Architecture, but the plug-in also works with Revit MEP and Structure.

Here are some PDF samples of 3D models made with 3D PDF Converter for Revit.







NOTE: This only works with Adobe Acrobat Pro 9 Extended If you do not have Adobe 9 Pro Extended, go here: http://whatrevitwants.blogspot.com/2011/09/create-3d-pdf-files-from-autodesk-revit.html ….Or you can try to get in on the Beta Testing of this:http://www.tetra4d.com/revit-pre-release-program.html

Adobe has added 3D functionality to Acrobat Pro and Reader.  By using the free Acrobat Reader, anyone, anywhere, can now view a model exported from Revit. They are able to rotate, adjust the lighting, change the rendering, and cut sections — all from within Reader.

Adobe did not stop there. If a model is exported to IFC, all the IFC data is imported in to the PDF with the model. Click on any object in the model and all of the IFC data associated with that object is revealed.

Below is an image of a PDF I created, leaving a space free in the center for the model.

The following is a sample model of an Urban House taken off the internet.

Export the model to IFC. From Adobe Acrobat Pro, using the 3D Tool, insert a box for the model. Place the model by selecting it after prompted. The following is the completed PDF.

Click on the link to download the completed PDF and interact with the model.


6 Responses to “3D PDF: A Free Revit Viewer.”

  1. Michael Schell February 13, 2011 at 2:58 am #

    What version of Adobe are you using on for doing this? I have downloaded the Adobe 10 X Pro and I can’t seem to see how this is supported.

  2. Paul Crickard February 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    I believe I did this with Adobe 9. Under the Tools menu there should be some subcategories. Under one of those is a 3D Tool. Select that tool then left click the top corner of your PDF and draw a box to the lower right corner. when you release the mouse button, you should get a pop-up asking you for the link to the 3D model you want to import (IFC, SKP…)

    I was unable to get a copy of Adobe X to try this on, but it should still work. If anything, I think they have added even more functionality — like geoPDF. Now you can tag 4 coordinates and the PDF will be able to determine your location using GPS, or you can search for specific points on the map.

  3. adobe March 11, 2011 at 12:07 am #

    the version you are running is “Adobe 9 Pro Extended” which can capture many different 3D model geometry formats
    http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/403/kb403419.html – this version is no longer available. There is no mention of an upgrade to Adobe X Pro.

  4. budowa kaplicy zygmuntowskiej June 8, 2013 at 4:33 am #

    I think that what you said made a great deal of sense.
    But, consider this, what if you composed a catchier post title?
    I am not suggesting your content isn’t solid, but suppose you added something that makes people want more? I mean 3D PDF: A Free Revit Viewer. | Architecture and Planning is a little boring. You could peek at Yahoo’s home page and note how they create article titles to get viewers interested.
    You might try adding a video or a related picture
    or two to get readers interested about everything’ve got to say. In my opinion, it might bring your posts a little livelier.


  1. https://paulcrickard.wordpress.com/2010/1… « BIM Buzz - November 13, 2010

    […] https://paulcrickard.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/3d-pdf-a-free-revit-viewer/ […]

  2. 3D PDF Converter for Revit « Architecture and Planning - July 9, 2012

    […] 2010, I wrote a blog post on using Adobe Acrobat 9 Extended to create 3D PDFs from a Revit model by exporting it to IFC. In […]

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