You could do something very low tech and “free” [free as in software investment, not free as in you don''t have to do anything to get it working] simply by using the Solid Edge command line translator and some form of monitoring for changed Solid Edge files.
If you want ”instantaneous” PDF files, then you could use a free folder monitoring utility that will watch for changed Solid Edge files and automatically launch the Solid Edge command line translator every time a file is changed. However, such an instantaneous solution would cause a lot of file churn and processing.
Or you could implement a simple batch script to log/list all changed Solid Edge files since the last run and then feed the results into the Solid Edge command line translator. The script could be set up as an automated task to run every X hours such that there is only a short delay between the Solid Edge file being changed and the updated PDF file being available to other departments. In return for small delay you minimize file churn and over processing.
As a former customer I've implemented such solutions for multiple former employers with much success. However, such low-brow solutions do come with limitations and downsides that purchased solutions typically overcome. You start then running into issues and concerns over ensuring that only released or needed data is made available, how to watermark the viewable files as “for reference only”, etc...
Free software does not mean free of costs!
You will save the money for purchasing the software but usually you will pay the price in limited functions, more effort in configuration, less support, etc.
Invest of working hours is also money.
For every investment you have to ask yourself "When do I get my invested money back?"
I would always invest 1 Million $ if I see I get 2 Million $ back because of better quality, higher productivity, smooth work flows, less working hours for double work, ..
So maybe the is to ask:
What is the perfect solution I am looking for?
What is the solution worth to me?
Is this investment cost or will it pay?
Dave, you keep mentioning the "Solid Edge command line translator". I'm familiar with those that convert to from SE for things like IGES and ACIS, but is there a generic exe for all formats including PDF (2D) and if so, got documentation?
as 15 years Siemens PLM solution provider I'm offering for download a free Solid Edge add-in solution that creates a PDF on each save of a DFT document.
The zip-file contains a readme file in English and German.
Download link: http://www.wksyspro.de/download/AutoPdfSeAddIn.zip