Of the 4 free 3D PDF creation methods I have previously posted, this is the easiest and probably the best:

  1. Export an FBX file from Revit, Navisworks, or any other Autodesk application (File – Export – FBX)
  2. Open it in Bentley View and Print to PDF (tick the Print to 3D checkbox).

Done.  It is literally that easy.  For a slightly different step by step method specifically for Revit, go to this page.

Note: for direct, simple and customizable 3D PDF creation capability from Revit, check out the Revit to 3D PDF link in the sidebar.

The key difference between this and my previous post about using Bentley View to make 3D PDFs is the fact that it supports opening FBX natively (you don’t need special exporters) – and FBX is a format that Autodesk also supports extensively.  Bentley View can open lots of other formats too…check it out:

The good thing about this process is that you capture any colour overrides that you applied in an exported Navisworks view.  Keep in mind that you can also easily adjust the brightness of the 3D scene in Bentley View.
Also, did you know that Bentley View can open a Sketchup SKP file directly and print it to 3D PDF with ease?

Now, to those who cry “Nay, but a DWF is better…”

  • Yes, it is
  • It isn’t as widespread as PDF
  • Most people already have Adobe Reader installed
  • Some people won’t have the PC permissions necessary to install Design Review due to strict IT policies
  • For those Clients who want a quick, navigable 3D impression of their building – 3D PDF is going to be much more accessible and user friendly

Personally, I think the most limiting factor in the use of 3D PDF for visualization is that it doesn’t support textures (as per the limitations of U3D format in the notes at the end of this post).

Bentley View V8i (SELECTseries 3) update 2 has some key changes:

  • Autodesk® RealDWG™ 2014 support 
  • Support for the IFC and JT file formats 

Key updates are described at this link.

To easily deploy Bentley View easily, you will need two packages:

  •  Prerequisites for Bentley Desktop Applications Software v08.11.09.03
    Filename: pbda08110903en.exe
  • Bentley View V8i (SELECTseries 3) v08.11.09.459
    Filename: vw081109459en.exe

Ok, what if you are using an earlier version of Bentley View that can’t open FBX directly?

  1. Export FBX of desired view from Navisworks [160mb]
  2. Open FBX in FBX Review or FBX Converter and save as OBJ [169mb]
  3. Open the OBJ in Bentley View V8i and print to 3D PDF (you can use this method) [13mb]
Step 3 (opening the OBJ) took a long time, but it did work.  I performed this process with superseded Bentley View version (downloaded in 2011).
Download it at:

Some notes:
Limitations of U3D:
Texture mapping is currently limited to only a diffuse map per material…Okino’s Universal-3D (.u3d) 3D File Export Converter

Photoshop 3D capability:
In Photoshop CS5 and CS6, 3D functionality was part of Photoshop Extended. All features in Photoshop Extended are part of Photoshop CC. Photoshop CC does not have a separate Extended offering.

You need photoshop cs3 or later for 3d model importing. It will definitely import a .obj. As mentioned you need acrobat pro or acrobat X to import u3d files to use in a pdf. If you do not have access to cs3 or later there are other alternatives for viewing models. Do you specifically need to have a 3d pdf? If not you can download the .fbx plugin for quicktime, you can then export you scene or model as an fbx and open in quicktime and it will server a a 3d viewer. Thee are also numerous other obj viewers available on the net just look around. Wings 3d is a full modeling app that is free and very lite in size and should be able to open several types of 3d files.
CGTalk – How to covert the 3d model to .u3d and put in to PDF

Wings 3D can import FBX and export VRML / WRL:
Wings 3D – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Download at http://www.wings3d.com/?page_id=84 (2011 software)


“Models are different from drawings in an essential way. A model represents an environmental totality. No locations are discarded and none can be discarded. Therefore authorship can no longer be confined to a finite number of directive visual statements representing a finite number of selected locations that are representative of a totality. In a model, totality is explicit instead of implicit. Explicit totality has profound effect on both authors and viewers, and we need to explore it. “

Read more:
A frontier in visual communication – Rob Snyder’s Blog – Bentley Colleague Blogs – Be Communities by Bentley

Most of you know what computational, parametric and associative design IS and what it MEANS.  Previously, Bentley had a strong product in Generative Components, and we all know about Grasshopper / Rhino.  But it appears that Autodesk is coming to the party – with a solution called DesignScript.

They have employed the man behind GenerativeComponents – Dr Robert Aish.  Apparently, this programmatic design solution has been in the works for Four Years!

It will be very interesting to see if Autodesk can capture the imagination of designers in the same way that Grasshopper has, or if they can offer some sort of realistic BIM integration quickly (like GC).

Some big claims here:
While Bentley and McNeel have managed to capture the imagination of many a young architect with their generative products, DesignScript will bring computational design to a much larger audience, one which previously embraced end-user languages like AutoLISP.
It will be interesting to see how aggressively Autodesk addresses this niche market when the product finally gets unleashed later this year.
Being the godfather of both GenerativeComponents and DesignScript, Dr Aish has a pretty good idea of the capabilities of the competition and, having had carte blanche at Autodesk to start a new tool will aim to improve on what GC is capable of.

So, what is DesignScript?
Dr Aish describes DesignScript as a language which sits at the intersection of design and programming. It allows parametric and associative programmes to be easily written allowing experimentation with AutoCAD’s geometric entities.
DesignScript is intended to be used by novices and professional programmers as a production modelling tool to evaluate complex geometric models and to help design professionals make the transition to understanding programming concepts and in turn, learn more about the designs.

Read more at:
AEC Magazine – DesignScript

There is even an AU class!
This class will be the first presentation of “DesignScript”, a new Parametric and Computational Design application within AutoCAD. This application allows creative designers and engineers to directly express their design logic and use this logic to build complex design models. This class will introduce the conceptual foundations of associative, parametric, and computational design, and demonstrate how these have been incorporated as features within the DesignScript system. DesignScript takes a radical user-oriented approach to help designers and engineers make the transition from conventional direct manipulation modeling to the point where they can accurately express and execute their own design logic.

2009 video uploaded by Autodesk University:

The heads up for this post came from:
Newly forthcoming tool for creating these types of parametric models is a graphical programming language Autodesk DesignScript. Its development is in charge of Autodesk’s Dr. Robert Aish, the original author of the concept GenerativeComponents (GC).

DesignScript is easy to use, visual, parametric, associative tool on the border of programming and designing. The first will be given on AutoCAD, but is expected to extend it to other Autodesk applications, such as the Revit which will complement the existing possibilities of parametric and organic elements.

Google Translate

Image and caption from aecmag
The Centre Pompidou Metz. Robert Aish found inspiration in the lattice work to try out an early version of DesignScript’s capabilities
© Leonie Felle / Anke Neugebauer 

2008 video

From another site:
With AutoCAD and Revit both belonging to Autodesk, they must be thinking about compiling DesignScript into Revit Families. Queue jokes about Revit stealing another feature ArchiCAD has had for 20 years. But unlike ArchiCAD’s GDL language, which is this badly neglected Visual Basic like language, DesignScript is being developed at the forefront of Autodesk’s research efforts. Compiling scripts into Revit families would eliminate the current practice of baking Grasshopper or Digital Project models and importing them as static geometry to be sliced and diced by Revit. Instead you will be able to open the DesignScript model in Revit and associate it directly with the geometry in Revit, if you make a change in Revit you don’t need to go back and rebake the geometry, the DesignScript model (and the meta data) updates automatically – or so I hope.
Read more at:

The steps below show how to do it using the i-model plugin (you may also want to look at converting a 3D DWF straight to a 3D PDF):

  1. Close Revit
  2. Download and install i-model plug-in for Revit (you will have to register)
  3. Download and install Bentley View
  4. Open a Revit project
  5. Open a 3D view
  6. In the Ribbon, go to Bentley – Publish as i-model
  7. Open the i-model DGN in Bentley View
  8. File – Print to PDF
  9. Tick ‘Print to 3D’
  10. Click Printer button
  11. Choose a place to save your file
  12. Open the 3D PDF in Adobe Reader
  13. Have fun navigating your Revit model inside a 3D PDF file.

ftp link>

If you’re looking to buy Autodesk software, try finding it here with special deals.