Adobe Goes 3D with Acrobat

Adobe on Monday announced Acrobat 3D, a new version of the popular software that would allow users of 3D visualization programs to convert several CAD formats into PDF files. The application marks the first time Adobe has released a version of Acrobat directed at a particular industry.

Recipients of the files would not need CAD software to view the embedded images, however an upgrade to the latest version of Acrobat Reader would be required.

These recipients would be able to rotate and annotate the 3D image within the document, which Adobe said would increase productivity for CAD users. Currently, developers are limited to sending two-dimensional images via e-mail, slowing down the process and prone to errors.

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"In a global environment of fierce competition, outsourcing and time-to-market pressure, manufacturing organizations continually seek tools to help them deliver better products faster," Gartner manufacturing research director Marc Halpern said.

Renault group, Honda Racing F1 Team, Eaton Corporation, Bradrock Industries, ITT Industries and Atrus Incorporated have been testing the product for Adobe.

ITT sung Adobe Acrobat 3D's praises in a statement from its product engineering manager. "Acrobat 3D could allow us to integrate 3D models into our marketing and product maintenance documentation, enabling readers to more easily understand how components work together," Chris Thomson said.

He added the ubiquity of PDF combined with CAD support "should help democratize 3D." Users would have the same security capabilities as regular PDF users, meaning they would be able to protect the integrity of their data when sharing through PDF.

3D in PDF could go far beyond engineering uses to items like interactive product brochures with 360-degree views. Product documentation could allow a user to zoom in or rotate a diagram to their liking. However, Adobe says the target audience initially would be the architectural, engineering and construction industries.

Acrobat 3D will cost $995 USD and is available in English, French and German language versions. A Japanese version is expected to be released in February. The program will require Windows 2000 or XP, or IBM AIX 5.2, HP UX 11.0, SGI IRIX 6.5, or Sun Solaris 2.8.

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