A Path to Expanding 3D PDF Use

How Advanced and Interactive 3D PDFs Made Collaboration Amongst
External Partners and Suppliers a Success

​It's common to see suppliers in the automotive/aerospace manufacturing industries utilize different CAD systems. Because of the numerous partners, vendors, suppliers, and other external parties involved in manufacturing, the biggest challenge these partners face is the collaboration of engineering data between diverse and complex systems. Designers and engineers not only undergo specialized training to use these systems, but also learn how to leverage them to get the right data for the right use at the right time. This was the primary challenge facing TK Holdings, US subsidiary of Takata Corporation, a leader in automotive manufacturing and sales of motor vehicle airbags, seat belts, steering wheels, interior trims, and child restraint systems. Their solution? Intelligent, automated, and data rich 3D PDFs.

The Case for MBE and 3D PDF


Model Based Engineering (MBE) is a strategy for taking a complete model-based definition and leveraging it to create a publication called a Technical Data Package (TDP). Because the challenge of collaboration between suppliers is always an issue, the publication of repurposed engineering information in the form of PDF files containing 3D becomes an essential component in MBE strategy. In effect, 3D data-rich and interactive PDF files with CAD information could be collaborated extensively and easily with suppliers, vendors, and external third parties. Adobe Reader, a free application found on nearly 99% of all computers, allows you to view these files at no cost.

In the case of TK Holdings, PROSTEP was the value added reseller for TechSoft's Tetra4D Automate software. Under the recommendation of PROSTEP, TechSoft's Tetra4D Automate software was presented as a viable solution to MBE collaboration. TK Holdings agreed, and began using Tetra4D Converter to make CAD data accessible to everyone without the need for licenses and extensive training. Specific departments within TK Holdings now have the ability to view data such as assemblies and dimensions and even conduct design reviews with the PDF document.

TK Holdings solution involves two simple steps.
1. A designer working in Enovia V6 can request the generation of a 3D PDF for any CAD data
managed within the system.
2. Users can then open the 3D PDF with the free Adobe Reader application.

Because Tetra4D Converter is capable of translating all major CAD types into data-rich 3D PDF quickly on a user's desktop, everyone in TK Holdings - even their external partners - can view the data as a 3D PDF within Adobe Reader.


The solution solved numerous problems, one being the collaborative design review process. No longer do separate teams need to wait for the CAD to open in a conference room to discuss changes. Instead, the 3D PDF saves comments in a new 3D View and makes a simple, portable record of the review.

Jerome at TK Holdings sums things up:

"As a manager in the Core Engineering group, I'm supporting all of our customer business units, working with them
during the design, tooling, testing, and launch phases. Checking out CAD drawings at all stages of the development is crucial in making sure we are creating the best products for our customers, suppliers, and operations group. With a larger emphasis on 3D CAD data, as opposed to 2D drawings, having a tool that allows you to quickly review geometry without needing resource consuming native CAD packages such as CATIA or NX is a major advantage."

Taking 3D PDF Creation One Step Further with Tetra4D Automate


The use of 3D PDFs caught on quickly at TK Holdings, meaning that those with Tetra4D Converter software on their desktop now had a new task on hand to make this data available. Much of the time required to generate 3D PDFs involved opening Enovia, exporting the CAD assembly, and then converting the CAD to 3D PDF. Obviously the 3D PDF result was of great benefit to the enterprise, but the intermediate steps were a burden on the engineers generating the document.

Introducing Tetra4D Automate


Tetra4D Automate is an extension to the Tetra4D Enrich product that enables translation of CAD to 3D PDF through a batch process. The product utilizes templates created from the Tetra4D Enrich product to simplify the creation of custom use templates for each use case. For TK Holdings, this is a Technical Data Package (TDP) and a design review document. The template can be made to present the right information for a specific
purpose.

TK Holdings then plugged the Tetra4D Automate batch process tool into the ENOVIA V6 PLM solution. The process is similar to other PLM translators such as a lightweight model generation or a drawing PDF/Tiff generator. The user can select the CAD in Enovia that they would like to translate and with a simple click on the drop-down menu in Enovia V6, they can generate a PDF. The process eliminates the work of the engineer to export the data with the native CAD system and uses Tetra4D Converter for generating the 3D PDF instead.

Future Possibilities with PDF Generator 3D from PROSTEP


Now that these changes have been implemented, TK Holdings plans to further automate the 3D PDF generation at a change of lifecycle state. The same process can be triggered during a release or through other PLM processes. 3D PDFs can be made available as a secondary attachment like a drawing 3D PDF with much greater usable value and much less work to create (with the drawing package).

In the future TK Holdings can expand this solution even further with PROSTEP's PDF Generator 3D. This software suite includes OOTB connectors for all major PLM systems as well as extended Adobe functionality for Digital Rights Management and Reader Extensions (enabling advanced measurement and digital signatures). PDF Generator 3D can also granularly control the 3D PDF generation to pre-process and post-process CAD data and ensure the 3D PDF generated is perfect for your use case.