It is now possible to supplement BIM with 3D PDF technology thanks to Bluebeam. Adrian Slatter of Design Software Solutions explains how the technology works

For many project teams, virtual design, construction and BIM are opening up a whole new world where products and materials are specified in models and clashes are detected before ground is even broken. The ability to design and share instructions in 3D is making teams more efficient

The issues

However, as firms transition to BIM with enhanced coordination tools for early clash detection and issue resolution, communication among inter-disciplinary project partners remains challenging. Design teams are often decentralised, and project schedules are usually constrained. Design decisions from all project partners are needed much earlier in the process, yet modelling skills and access are limited to the architect and designers. All team members must have access to critical project documents, but ensuring that everyone is referencing a single, up-to-date master document set can be difficult at best.

The goal of BIM is to tie together valuable information created, distributed and gathered during the project life cycle, remove process inefficiencies, and change the way information is shared and utilised. More and more, teams are implementing electronic plan rooms and BIM rooms so all stakeholders can interact with project data, documents and each other to get on the same page at the start of a project.

The power of the universal file

But what happens when project partners don’t have access to or technical knowledge of solutions leveraging BIM? How can teams make sure that all members—including consultants, engineers, contractors and clients—can contribute to the conversation as early as possible?

For many project teams, the answer is to leverage PDFs. Owners, engineers, architects, contractors and facilities professionals are transforming industry workflows by using PDFs to go digital. Users electronically create, redline and share 2D PDFs for design reviews, estimates and RFIs through punch lists, closeouts and facilities management. Easily navigable digital document sets are created with assigned user access and document management permissions to ensure that the right team members receive the right information at the right time. And, robust PDF solutions track all annotations for built-in accountability.

The most innovative teams also are bridging the gap between those who typically have access to BIM and those who don’t via 3D PDFs. All team members can contribute to and greatly benefit from the ability to view, navigate and comment on portions of 3D models exported from Revit, Navisworks Manage, Navisworks Simulate or any IFC file.

3D PDF functionality

Invaluable content is more accessible than ever before with the ability to slice 3D models, paste 3D views onto RFIs, isolate 3D model regions and manipulate objects within 3D assemblies—all to get answers more quickly.

Once exported into a 3D PDF format, users can manipulate and navigate 3D PDF models and add industry-standard or customisable markups to 3D views. The 3D functionality in some digital solutions makes it easier to clarify questions and resolve issues more accurately and earlier in the process. For example, in addition to simply adding markups to 3D views, users can copy and paste specific 3D objects from one PDF to another to more clearly document questions about a particular building element, essentially creating the next generation of RFIs.

Watch how 3D PDFS work:

Advanced PDF solutions include sectioning tools to expose interior details of a model and tools to explode and reanimate parts within 3D assemblies. Project team members can isolate specific rooms or elements, pull apart elements to drill down to details and provide a better visual explanation of complex issues or how pieces should fit together. Users can create exploded views of typically hard-to-reach places and then smoothly animate the re-assemblies. Then, these new 3D views can be saved and shared to communicate how elements fit together for immediate field issue resolution.

These 3D document-based conversations can take place onsite or among remote project team members in real time through collaboration solutions built into PDF software. Cloud-based PDF technology brings multiple project partners together online to coordinate and resolve issues in real time.

Leveraging 3D PDF technology bridges the BIM gap among project partners so teams can facilitate better communication throughout the design and construction process. The combined powers of BIM and PDF enable designers, contractors and owners to minimise the risk of costly rework, communicate issues clearly and concisely and, ultimately, finish projects faster.

The 3D PDF provides an ideal medium for strengthening the core goal of BIM to tie together information created, distributed and gathered during the project lifecycle. We are all striving to remove process inefficiencies, change the way project teams create, share and consume information – and 3D PDF can help us do just that.

As a Bluebeam Platinum Partner, Design Software Solutions has spent many years helping organisations to reduce cost, streamline workflow and enable collaboration for its clients across the architectural, engineering and construction environment.

Why not come and see us at Architex on 15th & 16th November, Scotland Build on 23rd & 24th November or Building Live on 29th November.


Adrian Slatter

Sales and Marketing Director

Design Software Solutions



Please note: this is a commercial profile


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