Altium NEXUS Documentation


Created: May 4, 2019 | Updated: May 4, 2019
Now reading version 2.1. For the latest, read: Export3D_PDF for version 5
Applies to altium-nexus versions: 2.0, 2.1, 3.0, 3.1, 3.2, 4 and 5
This documentation page references Altium NEXUS/NEXUS Client (part of the deployed NEXUS solution), which has been discontinued. All your PCB design, data management and collaboration needs can now be delivered by Altium Designer (with Altium Designer Enterprise Subscription) and a connected Altium 365 Workspace. Check out the FAQs page for more information.

Parent page: Export3D Commands

The following pre-packaged resource, derived from this base command, is available:

Applied Parameters: None


This command is used to export the current PCB document in PDF 3D format. This interactive 3D format allows the insight provided by the interactive 3D view of the design in Altium NEXUS to be shared easily with external stakeholders - accessible for everyone with a recent version of Adobe® Acrobat® Reader. The result is a modestly sized, cross-platform 3D file format that does not require specialized 3D viewing software. In the case of PDF 3D files exported from Altium NEXUS, the embedded content includes the majority of the data viewable in Altium NEXUS’s own 3D view – including all tracks, pads, vias, polygons etc., all components and the full set of board layers.

The PDF 3D export capability is enabled in Altium NEXUS with the installation of the PDF3D Exporter software extension. This is installed by default, but in case of inadvertent removal, can be found on the Purchased page of the Extensions & Updates view.


This command is accessed from the PCB Editor by choosing the File » Export » PDF3D command from the main menus.

A PDF 3D file will be created in 3D format, regardless of the current PCB Editor view mode (2D or 3D).


After launching the command, a standard Export File dialog will appear. Use this to determine where and under what name the generated PDF document is to be stored. By default, the file will be named after the PCB document. After clicking Save, the Export 3D dialog will open. Use the available controls and options to determine rendering behavior and included design content.

With all options configured as required, click the Export button. The PDF will be generated and opened thereafter.

Unlike a fixed view of a board 3D design, which offers a particular angular perspective, the PDF 3D exported format is notionally equivalent to Altium NEXUS’s interactive 3D Layout Mode. As such, the resulting PDF 3D export offers the same rotate, zoom and pan capabilities, and can adopt one of a number of predefined color schemes.


  1. The high-level detail and configuration options produced by Altium NEXUS’s PDF 3D export is compatible with Acrobat Reader versions 9 and above.
  2. The foundation of this 3D capability is the industry-developed Universal 3D (U3D) format for computer graphic files, which has been standardized by the European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA) as ECMA-363. U3D is natively supported by the PDF format and can be simply embedded (and compressed) in a PDF file for interactive 3D viewing in Acrobat Reader.
  3. Key Frames defined in a PCB document can be integrated in the PDF 3D export by checking the Use 3D Movie views option in the PDF3D dialog. The Key Frames exported to the PDF 3D document will then be available as selectable views in Acrobat Reader.
  4. Basic design metadata from Altium NEXUS is included in an exported PDF 3D document. The data includes the design source file, its author, the Altium NEXUS version, creation/modification dates, etc. The information can be viewed in Adobe Reader under the Description tab in the Document Properties dialog - File » Properties.
  5. 3D files can be large, even with the format’s inherent data compression, so consider what level of design content is important for the target user. For example, the content of the copper layers (tracks, pads, etc) may not be required by someone looking at the mechanical aspects of a board design. When making the choice of included 3D content, it is also worth considering the 3D rendering capabilities of the viewer's PC. While the resulting PDF 3D file size might be reasonable, the target machine's CPU and graphics system may struggle to fluidly render a complex multi-layer design.


Found an issue with this document? Highlight the area, then use Ctrl+Enter to report it.

Contact Us

Contact our corporate or local offices directly.

We're sorry to hear the article wasn't helpful to you.
Could you take a moment to tell us why?
200 characters remaining
You are reporting an issue with the following selected text
and/or image within the active document: