"Save as" PDF vs. Print PDF
This article describes several options that can be adjusted to improve the quality of a PDF created with a "save as" operation. Performing a "save as" PDF uses a PDF generation engine that is internal to the Solidworks installation. Please note that this is different than performing a PDF print, which uses an external PDF printing application to generate the PDF. The settings described in this article only apply to improving the quality of a PDF generated from the "save as" command.
Settings to Improve Quality
1. Increase the image quality sliders to High in Tools>Options>System Options>Document Properties>Image Quality.
*Please note that you may want to turn these down when a print is not being performed, as having the sliders at High will lead to slower performance.
2. Enable "Anti-alias edges/sketches only" in Tools>Options>System Options>Display
3. Access the save as PDF options. This is done by going to File>Save as, choosing PDF for "save as type", and clicking the Options button.
On this screen, change the following options:
a. Enable "High quality lines".
b. Set "Shaded/Draft geometry DPI" and "Sharpened OLE DPI" to the print requirements. When in doubt, test a print at the highest setting. Note that increasing these values will result in a larger PDF file, and slower PDF creation time.
c. Enable "High Quality Shaded Edges"
d. Be aware of the option "Use specified printer line weights". When checked, the PDF generation engine will determine the PDF line thickness based off of the settings in Tools>Options>Document Properties>Line Thickness. When it is unchecked, the PDF generation engine will use standard line weight settings. For an initial test it would best to keep this setting off, and turn it on only if line thicknesses need to be manually adjusted.
4. Upgrade to the latest release year and service pack of SolidWorks. The internal PDF generation engine is improved in new releases.
5. Test a "print to PDF" instead of a "save as PDF". To print to PDF, go to File>Print and choose a PDF printer. You may find that printing the PDF via an external PDF printing application leads to higher quality results.