May 2, 2023

Rendering CAD files as PDFs without losing layers with Adlib Transform

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Rendering CAD files as PDFs without losing layers with Adlib Transform

For highly regulated industries that handle AutoCAD files, CAD-to-PDF conversion is a must have requirement for their document transformation system.

If you’ve ever been involved with architectural, construction or engineering designs, you know how frustrating it can be to share CAD files with your colleagues and contacts.

CAD files are large and complex and have a lot of layers. They also require costly file viewers and authoring applications to view and modify their content. Inherent in any design process is the need for collaboration to reach the right design solution. For example, large industrial projects require different contractors to coordinate their designs to ensure that they fit together in the final assembly and architects need their customers to review and approve their designs before proceeding with the project. How many times have you sent someone a CAD file to review, and they’ve responded with the dreaded words, “I can’t open the file.”?

Simply sharing the original CAD drawing file is typically not the best solution.  This approach is full of problems:

  • There are many CAD software packages in use (AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, SolidWorks), and reviewers may not have access to the software or even the expertise to use it.
  • Additional licenses for software can be costly, especially if the user only needs to view the file, not author it
  • When sharing files externally, users have no control over the content in the files, and cannot ensure the information remains true to its original intended version
  • The size of CAD files makes it difficult or impossible to share, especially via email
  • There are often issues protecting intellectual property contained in the CAD file

Rendering your CAD files as PDFs eliminates those headaches. Anyone can view a PDF on their desktop, laptop, or mobile device without the need for costly software.  However, the “print-to-PDF” free application just won’t cut it for complex CAD drawings, especially when you want to maintain each of the design layers. To do that, you need something more advanced.

By supporting CAD conversion to PDF, CAD can now become part of your standard document transformation process. Adlib Transform integrates seamlessly with your standard document workflows, giving you the ability to merge your CAD drawings with Microsoft Word files, RFPs, and other documents, creating a more efficient business process.   

Adlib Transform Differentiating Features

Supported File Formats


Turning the CAD layers on and off

By converting CAD files to PDF using Adlib, organizations have the flexibility to turn the CAD layers on and off. Adlib not only maintains the vector quality of the graphics, but also maintains each of the layers and the initial visibility setting of the layers. By simple checking or unchecking certain layers, users can turn each of the individual layers on or off to change the visibility of the document. The converted file does not have one flattened image, but instead is a dynamic, complex file that users can manipulate as needed.

Initiating a workflow to merge multiple files and file types

In addition to converting CAD files to PDF, Adlib can enable users to convert multiple files to PDF – including CAD – and merge them into one single, navigable PDF.  This is a useful feature for proposals and other large compilations of documents.

By initiating a workflow and selecting all of the documents that require conversion, users can merge the entire library into one high-fidelity PDF file. Like the single-file PDF documents, CAD files within this merged document have all of the individual layers, which can again be easily turned on or off.

In Conclusion

PDF is already a global ISO standard. It enables enhanced collaboration and searchability of the documents and designs across platforms. PDF files are also more secure and can be password protected or encrypted, which is important for sensitive oil and gas project designs and plans. Additionally, PDFs can be compressed to smaller sizes, making them easier to store and share.

Overall, CAD to PDF conversion is important for oil and gas companies as it simplifies collaboration, increases accessibility, and improves the security of project designs and plans.

Here is a guide for selecting the best technology for your organization with a list of 15 Must-Have Features Of An Enterprise-Grade Document Transformation Tool.

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