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)

The two step process is:

  1. Export STL from Revit
  2. Use U3D-2-PDF to turn the STL into a 3D PDF (a one click process).

This is the fourth free method I have posted on how to make 3D PDFs from Revit (go to end of post for the other three).  Pros for this method – quick and easy once you are set up.  Cons – can’t really get materials or colours to show (just geometry).

You will need to setup your environment first.  Here is what you need:
1) The STL Exporter (Revit 2013 version add-in here.)

2) Then, get U3D-2-PDF at:

It requires MeshLab and MiKTeX (see here).  You also need .NET Framework 4 (here if you don’t already have it).

You can get them from:

3) Meshlab software:
4) MiKTeX download at:

(yes to automatic package installs)

Once you have installed all 4 items, then:
Extract and Run U3D-2-PDF.exe.  You will need to specify some paths like:
“C:Program Files (x86)MiKTeX 2.9miktexbinpdflatex.exe”
“C:Program FilesVCGMeshLabmeshlabserver.exe”

Select a source STL or WRL, then an output PDF filename and click Start.  Once finished, click Open PDF.

If you want additional steps, you can go Suite Workflows to Max, then from there out to STL or WRML.
NOTE:  if you do go to Max first, then Topography WILL be included in the 3D PDF.  If you don’t go out to Max, then it won’t (because the Revit STL Exporter will not pick up topography properly.)

I got some clues from an explanatory PDF via download at:
Generate U3D files from STL models for making multilayer 3D PDF figures

Once a U3D file has been created, there are two basic options to convert the U3D files into PDF format. One requires the commercial Adobe Acrobat Pro software (versions 7, 8, 9, or X all include the required functionality), while the other option uses the free open-source LaTeX software package (MiKTeK and the movie15 package) to compile the final PDF. Both these options use a .U3D file of the model in order to generate the 3D figure. However, U3D files are not very easy to create directly.

Instead, an IDTF file must be created, and that is in turn converted into a Universal 3D (.U3D) file. Fortunately, the IDTF to U3D converter is freely available (sourceforge.net u3d). Unfortunately, the free software comes as a fairly large download (U3D_A_061228_5.zip, 2007-01-16, 36.3 MB).  

Previous methods:

  1. Using the i-model plugin
  2. Converting a DWF,
  3. Revit to OBJ to DAZ Studio to U3D to Adobe 3D PDF
  4. The method described above