Converting AutoCad to PDF

Designer hits glitches making PDF files from AutoCad, and colleagues suggest a few options. July 22, 2005

I just bought a copy of Adobe Acrobat 6.0 Professional in order to make PDF's of my AutoCad drawings to send to clients, but I am having problems making the PDF's. When I try to convert a drawing, it comes up blank in the Adobe window. I am running AutoCad 2000.

My AutoCad window now has three new Adobe buttons: one to create a PDF, one to create and e-mail a PDF, and one to create a PDF that can be sent out for review and mark-ups. I have tried to convert drawings from both model space and layouts, with the same result. The PDF that I e-mailed was received blank as well. Is there some setting I need to adjust in AutoCad? Any help would be great.

Forum Responses
(CAD Forum)
From contributor V:
You need to make sure Acrobat Distiller is installed. You can then create PDF files from any application by printing to the Adobe PDF driver. I use Architectural Desktop 2004 and also have the buttons for Adobe on the toolbar. I don't have a problem creating PDF files from drawings.

I usually plot drawings from a layout in paper space containing my title block and a scaled drawing. With Acrobat you can create single PDF files with multiple drawings or combine multiple PDF files into one file for emailing. If you are having problems, try re-installing Adobe and updating the program through their web site. Adobe also places shortcut buttons in Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint.

From the original questioner:
The distiller is installed, and the status says "ready". To install it, I put the disc in again, right?

From contributor V:

Yes, just repeat the install process. Try to create a PDF from another application to check if it is an AutoCad related problem. With 2004, I had to re-install both problems before everything worked correctly on one machine.

From the original questioner:
I didn't really research this purchase at all. I bought Adobe because it is everywhere and everyone has the reader. Vince, I reinstalled the program a couple of times and it seems to work; it just takes so long to convert a drawing (several minutes) that I assume the software is frozen. I managed to make several PDFs last night.

An additional question; it seems the default print setting for Acrobat is 8-1/2 x 11 for recipients to print out. So, if I have a job with multiple elevations, plans, sections and details, do I need to make a separate 8-1/2 x 11 PDF layout for each portion sized to be big enough to read, or can I just send the whole thing and let them enlarge particular portions of the package to a legible size to be printed. I don't print my drawings to scale, I just pull all of the relevant measurements and print as large as I can, 8-1/2 x 11 if I am faxing, 11 x 17 if I am mailing or presenting in person.

From contributor V:
When I convert a drawing to PDF it takes 15-20 seconds for a typical kitchen elevation. If the drawing is very complex, it may take longer. The speed of your computer and amount of memory could also be effecting the time it takes. Adobe will usually convert to 8 1/2" x 11". You can zoom-in within the file to make an object larger, and in Acrobat print the current view so people you send the files to can see all the objects on their 8 1/2" x 11" printed page. After they click the print button you must select current view, then print.

From contributor M:
Adobe Acrobat has many great features beyond just creating PDF files. There is not a single piece of software that offers all features included with Acrobat. Acrobat is a memory and resource hog. It doesnt do anything fast and is not very intuitive when it comes to figuring out how to use features in the program. Its also not cheap.

If you dont need the long list of features or you want to create PDFs faster with less confusion, then you can give a program called PDF Factory a trial run. The Pro version of the program will allow you to change the order of pages in the PDF, delete pages in a PDF, and add pages to a PDF from multiple sources. It will allow you send as an e-mail attachment and it can save as a PDF and then open in the Acrobat Reader. It can also print directly to your printer without saving the current job away as a PDF and its simple to use.

I use PDF Factory to create PDFs and Acrobat for features like editing PDFs, or making automated forms. I would not want to be without either program, but I also used to hate how Acrobat, Distiller, and the Acrobat Reader worked together and with other programs when it came time to print or view PDFs. With PDF Factory I never have to see or use Distiller or the Acrobat Reader for PDFs I create.

From contributor D:
I would suggest trying this. In AutoCad, when you print, see if there is a choice of printers. There should be. Simply choose Acrobat Distiller, print to a file and open or print it hardcopy with Acrobat.

From contributor J:
Here's another tip: When Installing Adobe Acrobat - choose Custom Install and Select the PDF Writer Option. This makes the file sizes a lot smaller than the Distiller and also allows you to make changes to text as well. So in AutoCad, when you are printing it out, select the PDF Writer option instead of the Distiller. After you are done printing out your layout tabs, open Acrobat and open your first PDF file. Then you can insert the rest of your PDF files if you have multiple layouts.