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How to View and Use 3D PDFs in Your Business

What is PDF technology, and why has it become one of the essential tools for working with 3D models? Due to the standardization of PDF format, it was necessary to expand its capabilities because, with increasing frequency, this format was seen as the format where you could store all types of office files and thus guarantee their compatibility and ease of transfer. Today, PDF supports text files, raster images, vector images, weblinks, videos, sound, hypertext elements such as links and bookmarks, page thumbnails, and recently 3D models

3d model

Part 1. What Are Advantages of 3D PDFs

Nowadays, and due to the popularization of remote work, the need arose for graphic artists to share their work with other people. Most graphic artists rely on PDF technology to share their work since this technology allows these files to be viewed without specialized software. However, some graphic artists do not only work with raster images or vector images. Some work with 3D models, and unsurprisingly, they also need to share their work. For 3D artists, it is incredibly complicated since 3D resources often require specialized and complex software to use for those who do not specialize in it, in addition to being much heavier than 2D resources.

Fortunately, in recent years, PDF technology has evolved and now allows the use of 3D resources. Thanks to technological advances in PDF technology, virtually anyone can view these resources without the need for 3D editing software.

3D PDF technology has revolutionized the way 3D artists can share their information. Now it is possible to share lightweight files where clients or coworkers can view the work of 3D artists quickly and safely.

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Part 2. How Can Your Business Use 3D PDFs

3D modeling is very popular today. Many businesses and companies have chosen to create 3D models of their products as these allow them to offer a much more accurate preview to their customers of the products they work with. Below I will describe some cases where 3D models are helpful.


Architects create 3D models where the expected result of a construction project can be visualized and simulating the dimensions, lighting, and materials used in the real work. This makes it possible to guarantee that the client will be satisfied with the final result long before starting, reduce costs, avoid unforeseen events, and estimate the time the project can take with much greater precision.

Dental health

For orthodontists, one of the most significant challenges they must face is explaining the procedure that must be performed to achieve a specific result. Today, orthodontists rely on 3D resource tools to explain to their patients what each stage of the process will be like in a precise and reliable way. This allows to improve the efficiency of the treatment, keep the patients calm and reduce costs.

Industrial design

For industrial designers, their designs must be functional, attractive, and profitable at the same time. Industrial designers, in the past, relied only on technical drawings to illustrate the idea of a product before being produced. Still, today it is much more reliable to work with 3D models as they allow to consider more factors with precision. They allow others who are not specialized in industrial design to view and analyze the product comfortably.


About three decades ago, 3D animations became very popular, especially in the cinematic realm. Interestingly, this is not because it is less expensive to produce a movie with 3D animation than with actors or 2D animation. It became so popular because 3D technology allows you to create all kinds of scenes with a level of detail close to reality but without limitations. 3D animation is ideal for telling fantasy stories and, for this reason, it is currently one of the most interesting and sought-after options in the film industry.


Today, there are dental prosthetists and prosthetic engineers dedicated to designing prosthetics for people who have lost teeth or limbs of the body. Prostheses seek to imitate the appearance of the natural limb or teeth and seek to be helpful to the user. Each body is different, so it is not surprising that these prostheses must be tailored to each individual. In addition, due to the complexity of the prosthesis creation process, these are often expensive to produce, so it is crucial to reduce production costs as much as possible. The prosthetists rely on 3D models. These models allow them to create prototypes to make sure they look natural and that patients are happy with the result.

Video games

Video games became popular using 2D graphic resources. However, as soon as it was possible to replace 2d models with three-dimensional models, all companies dedicated to the development of video games began to use this technology because it was possible to achieve much more realistic and visually attractive results with it. Today, there are still those who enjoy and prefer 2D technology in video games, but it could be said that 3D technology is the industry standard.

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Part 3. How Do You View 3D Content in PDFs

Today, 3D models can be viewed through PDF viewers. However, this technology is relatively new, so you should bear in mind that not just any visualizer can display 3D models. Adobe Acrobat 3D Reader allows you to display these types of files, but by default, this feature is disabled in the preferences panel and, depending on the version you use, you may need to install a plug-in. On the other hand, PDFelement is a software specialized in managing PDF documents. This software is straightforward to use and allows you to work with 3D resources. Next, I will show you how to work with 3D resources with this software.

Before you start, you may be wondering how to open a 3D PDF document with PDFelement. PDF documents that have 3D assets are no different from the rest. This means if you set PDFelement as the default program for opening PDF documents, just double-click on the document.

1. Show or hide parts of 3D Model

show or hide parts of 3D model

3D design programs work with layering technology. Layers allow the 3D artist to work in a more practical and organized way. For instance. Using only two layers, one can be designated to contain only geometric shapes, and another can have colors or textures. In this way, it is possible to make changes and analyze a model much more quickly. PDFelement can differentiate between these layers and lets you choose which one you want to see.

show or hide parts of 3D model

To choose the layer you want to see, all you have to do is go to the left panel of the screen. This panel has some tools that will allow you to navigate more comfortably in the document. The last option on the bar is the layer management tool. Click on it and choose which layers you want to see and which ones you don't.

2. Add comments

PDFelement has a wide variety of editing and proofing options that not only work well on text. You can use these tools almost anywhere in your PDF documents, including 3D models. These tools are excellent as they will help you and others to understand each other better.

add comment

To add a comment, go to the "Comment" section in the top bar. There you will find multiple tools that will help you express yourself clearly. You can highlight, underline, and strike out texts. If you need to highlight an area of the model, you can use geometric shapes and text tools to leave a comment with directions.

3. Rotate, pan, and zoom your 3D model

view 3d model

The most valuable feature of 3D models is that they can be viewed from different angles and at different zoom levels to appreciate details. Although in most 3D design programs, it is not so easy to adjust these values, in PDFelement, interacting with 3D models is very simple.

view 3d model

Every time you open a PDF document with 3D assets, you will find a frame around the model. By clicking on the model, some points will appear in the frame. These points will allow you to adjust the scale of the model in relation to the document, and at the bottom of the screen, you will see a bar of controls with which you can easily drag and drop to adjust the angle you want to see.

view 3d model

On the bottom panel, you will also find a couple of buttons to zoom in (+) and Zoom out (-). To the right of these buttons, you will find a drop-down menu with some default Zoom values with which you can enter the desired value without having to do many clicks, or you can press the CTRL key and scroll up until you reach the zoom you want.

Closing Words

There are many reasons why 3D models are necessary. This technology is gaining more relevance every day. That is why it is increasingly common to work with 3D PDFs, as these are possibly the easiest way to share 3D resources. It is a fact that there are specialized programs for the design of 3D models, but these are not usually easy to use for the general public. On the contrary, PDFelement is a PDF document management software specially designed to offer an intuitive and dynamic user experience. With just a couple of clicks, you get professional results.

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