How to Export 3D PDF in Revit

A common approach for exporting sheets or 3D views from Revit is by creating a 2D PDF file through the built-in print function or PDF exporter. But did you know that you can export a 3D PDF file with element details directly from Revit?

This method allows you to create a lightweight representation of your model in a PDF format, which you can share easily with project stakeholders, for example. An advantage of 3D PDFs is their accessibility because pretty much every user has access to Adobe Reader.

In this article, I will explain how to create and export a 3D PDF file directly from Revit by using third-party plugins. Additionally, I will explain how to open and use the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Reader.

3D PDF Revit

In Revit, two methods exist for exporting 2D PDF files: one is by using the print function, and the other is through the PDF export function (available since Revit 2022). However, Revit currently does not offer native support for creating 3D PDF files. Fortunately, there are various plugins available in the market that enable you to export 3D PDF files.

Each of the third-party plugins I listed below requires a license, but they offer a trial period, allowing you to evaluate the software before making the purchase.

SimLab and ProtoTech are also available through the Autodesk App Store.

Tip

If you’re interested in learning more about exporting 2D PDF files using the Print or PDF export function, you may find this article helpful: How to export PDF files from Revit.

Export 3D PDF Revit

In this article, I will review two plugins for creating 3D PDFs: SimLab and Bluebeam Revu. Both plugins are designed to work seamlessly with a diverse range of Revit versions.

  1. SimLab 3D PDF Exporter – Supports Revit 2013-2024
  2. Bluebeam Revu 21 – Supports Revit 2019-2024

Method 1 – SimLab 3D PDF Exporter

One of the first tools I tested for generating 3D PDFs directly within Revit was the SimLab 3D PDF Exporter. This is a very easy-to-learn plugin with many options for creating 3D PDFs. To use the plugin, begin by downloading and installing the SimLab 3D PDF Exporter plugin.

  1. Open Revit and make sure to Always Load the add-in
always load plugin
  1. Open a 3D view in Revit
  2. Open the Add-Ins tab > SimLab PDF Exporter panel
  3. You can either click Export Current View to export the currently open view or choose Export File to select multiple views from the model.
revit export 3d pdf
  1. Export Current View: Choose to Export Selected Cameras or Active View. Export File: Choose multiple views and cameras you like to export from the Scenes manager. Optional: It’s possible to Merge multiple 3D views into a single page > Click OK
export file simlab plugin
  1. Give the PDF a File Name > Click Save
revit export 3d pdf

When exporting with SimLab to PDF, you’ll see the SimLab Exporting to PDF logo, indicating the ongoing export process.

printing setting

When using the Export File function, it generates all views and places them in the Scenes Manager. During this process, you may encounter a Printing Setting message for each view it identifies. To prevent this message from appearing for each view, simply click the “Do not show me this message again” option and close the window.

SimLab 3D PDF Exporter – Settings

The SimLab 3D PDF Exporter provides a variety of settings that allow you to customize the appearance of the 3D PDF file. To customize the settings follow the steps outlined below.

  1. Open the Add-Ins tab > SimLab PDF Exporter panel
  2. Click Settings > SimLab PDF Exporter dialog opens
revit export 3d pdf
  1. In the SimLab PDF Exporter dialog click on Settings > PDF Settings dialog opens
  2. Change settings under the tab: Page, 3D, Viewing, and Advanced > Click Save
pdf settings simlab plugin

Settings explained

Page: In this tab, you can change the appearance of the PDF page where your 3D view is placed. Additionally, you can add a file Password, Background music, and a Preview Image.

pdf settings page

3D: This tab allows you to change the Render Mode, Light Type, and power. Moreover, you can change the tools you want to show up in the PDF reader, such as the Model Tree, 3D Toolbar, World Axes, and Section enabling.

pdf settings 3d

Viewing: The settings in this tab allow you to change the camera focus, the style of the SimLab buttons for navigating through cameras, and the duration of the camera transition.

pdf settings viewing

Advanced: In the Advanced tab, you can enable different settings to show up in the PDF file, such as Measuring tools and Object Attributes. Furthermore, you can add a custom Javascript and optimize your PDF Texture Size which can lead to improved file size efficiency

pdf settings advanced

Method 2 – Bluebeam Revu

Bluebeam Revu is the second tool I tested for generating 3D PDFs from within Revit. Primarily focused on generating 3D PDFs, the main advantage of this plugin lies in its ability to create Universal 3D (.U3D) files, which can be loaded into various software applications for review.

To use the plugin, begin by downloading and installing the Bluebeam Revu software, which automatically installs the plugins for Revit. Note that Bluebeam Software primarily functions as a tool for managing, controlling, and editing PDF documents.

  1. Open Revit and make sure to Always Load the add-in
always load plugin
  1. Open a 3D view in Revit
  2. Open the Add-Ins tab > Bluebeam panel
  3. Click on the dropdown-menu > Create 3D PDF
revit export 3d pdf
  1. Give the PDF a File Name > Click Save
export pdf file

When exporting with Bluebeam to 3D PDF from Revit, you’ll see two progression bars indicating the ongoing export process. First, the process begins with creating a U3D file, followed by the generation of the PDF file.

create u3d file revit

As mentioned, the Bluebeam plugin offers the advantage of creating the U3D file separately, giving you the flexibility to load the file into multiple software. To create the U3D file, you can go to the Add-Ins tab > Bluebeam panel > Choose Create U3D.

Tip

In the Bluebeam Revu PDF management software, you can insert a U3D file onto a customized PDF page. Go to Edit > PDF Content > Add & Edit 3D Content > Insert onto PDF page.

Bluebeam Revu – Settings

The Bluebeam Revu 3D PDF settings allow you to add Views, change Page Size, Rendering Mode, and several other options. To customize the settings follow the steps outlined below.

  1. Open the Add-Ins tab > Bluebeam panel
  2. Click on the dropdown-menu > 3D PDF Settings
3d pdf settings
  1. Change 3D settings > Click OK
3d settings

When the Bluebeam plugin isn’t showing up in your Revit Add-ins tab, ensure you have enabled it from within Bleambeam itself. To enable the plugin open Bluebeam and navigate to Revu tab > Administrator > Select Revit versions and click OK

bluebeam plugin settings

3D PDF Viewer

To open the 3D PDF exported from Revit, you can use the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC which is free to download and use. Additionally, if you have the full version of Bluebeam Revu software, you can use that to manage the PDF.

The first time you open the PDF you might get a notification that your Multimedia and 3D content has been disabled. There are two ways to enable this setting:

  1. Click on the notification Options dropdown menu and select Trust this document always
  2. Go to the Menu settings > Preferences > Multimedia & 3D > Tick Enable playing Multimedia and 3D Content
adobe pdf settings

When the 3D model shows up, everything is set to review the model in PDF format. In the upper left corner, you can find several tools, such as views, enabling the model tree, different render settings, and markup/annotation tools.

3d pdf in adobe
3D PDF opened in Adobe Acrobat Reader

Tip

To ensure the best rendering experience when opening your 3D PDF file, make sure your DirectX is up-to-date.

Wrapping Up

Revit currently doesn’t support exporting 3D PDFs. Fortunately, there are many third-party plugins on the market that enable you to export 3D PDF files. A 3D PDF is a lightweight representation of your model with metadata. An advantage of these files is that almost every user has access to Adobe Reader.

I’ve personally tested two different software options: SimLab and Bluebeam, and both of these add-ins are very user-friendly. While SimLab offers a wider range of customizable settings, Bluebeam stands out with its dedicated U3D file export feature.

I hope this article helped you to export 3D PDF files of your project model. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions, tips, or tricks I did not mention.

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