How to create 3D PDFs of SOLIDWORKS Parts and Assemblies

Article by Prasadh Annalingam, CSWE updated January 22, 2021

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Sometimes we want to be able to send 3D information to individuals who may not have SOLIDWORKS access such as managers, customers, vendors, etc.  How can we send them 3D information?

In SOLIDWORKS we have the ability to save a model as an eDrawings file format which another user can then open and view the 3D model in the eDrawings application.

If you are interested in learning more you can download the free eDrawings Viewer.

Question: What do we do if a customer, supplier, or user is reluctant to download the eDrawings program, or doesn’t have permission?

No need to worry, as SOLIDWORKS also has the ability to save a 3D PDF. Yes you read that correctly, you can save the SOLIDWORKS 3D part or assembly model as a 3D PDF without downloading or installing any additional programs!

To create a 3D PDF from SOLIDWORKS:

First go to File > Save As for the Model that needs to be saved as 3D PDF.

SOLIDWORKS Save As

Go to File > Save As

Save the type as PDF and remember to select the “Save As 3D PDF” checkbox.

SOLIDWORKS- 3D PDF- Checkbox

Choose Type as PDF and select the “Save As 3D PDF” Checkbox

When you open the saved 3D PDF, you may see the following window. Make sure to choose trust this document at the top right.

Trust this Document

Choose “Trust this Document”

Last thing we need to do is click right in the center of the PDF window to view the 3D Model.

SOLIDWORKS- 3D PDF- Click Center of the PDF

Click the Center of the PDF

Completed SOLIDWORKS 3D PDF:

Inside the Adobe Acrobat Reader you can rotate the model and view the assembly tree etc.

SOLIDWORKS- 3D PDF- End Result

3D PDF Created

Note: You have additional options on the toolbar located at the top of the 3D Model which can be used to manipulate the view of the model such as turning it to bounding box or transparent. The model can also be rotated, zoomed, and panned with the farthest button to the left on the toolbar. Play around with the settings and enjoy!

Things to keep an eye on:

  • If the PDF shows only a screenshot image and not 3D, try resaving the PDF and making sure the “Save As 3D PDF” is checked
  • If the 3D PDF still isn’t working, please try updating your Adobe version and check again.
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Prasadh Annalingam, CSWE

Prasadh is a Certified SOLIDWORKS Expert and Technical Applications Analyst based in the Javelin Oakville head office.