A new group has kicked off operations with a charter to put 3D PDF on the map.
The 3D PDF Consortium is a community of software providers, system integrators, government agencies, and businesses that have a vested interest in the continued development of 3D PDF and the Product Representation Compact (PRC) data format as an open standard for visualization, collaboration, data exchange, and the long-term archiving and retrieval of engineering, manufacturing, AEC/BIM, geospatial, and scientific information.
Thanks to the ubiquity of the Acrobat Reader (the consortium says it resides on 98 percent of the world’s connected devices), there’s a case to be made that 3D PDF can serve as a universal collaboration mechanism for the exchange of engineering and product-related data by diverse groups. The consortium isn’t pitching 3D PDF as a mechanism for swapping geometrically intact CAD files between co-development engineering partners. Rather, given the range of information types 3D PDF supports (requests for quotes, costing data, supplier data) and the variety of controls and extensions it offers, proponents say it’s a powerful collaboration tool that can meet the needs of diverse users while facilitating the exchange of information packages traditionally addressed with a variety of disconnected technologies and manual processes.
With CAD data exchange standards and open formats readily available (Can you say STEP, IGES, and even JT Open?), it certainly raises the question: Why 3D PDF? Dave Opsahi, executive director of the 3D PDF Consortium, provided us with some clarification on when and where the technology makes sense. It's not for engineers looking for direct exchange of CAD geometric information for co-design or to support manufacturing processes, Opsahi said. But it is an easy and rich platform for exchanging other types of information that are part of the product record, along with a 3D representation, especially when compared with traditional methods.
“The minute you go beyond geometry, it has a real strong role to play,” he said. “There’s nothing really that’s come out to address this.”