5 Replies Latest reply on Feb 8, 2010 5:41 AM by JAG1988

    Reduce File size on CAD DXF file opened in AI

    JAG1988 Level 1

      CS3, Windows XP.


      I get DXF CAD files from our Engineering Department. I open them in AI and save them as AI files. Then I place them in InDesign. Then I export a PDF for uploading to my website.


      The problem is that every seam in the CAD drawing is 5 or 6 lines. Every screw head is shown. This makes for a large PDF file. There are several drawings in each manual so the PDF is sometimes over 20 meg. It also takes a while for the image to draw as you go from page to page.


      Is there anyway (short of spending hours removing lines and screwheads in AI) to simplify the drawings from CAD? Does CS4 have any capabilities in this area?



        • 1. Re: Reduce File size on CAD DXF file opened in AI
          JETalmage Level 6

          If you have multiple identical (or, more likely, nearly identical) paths overlapping, you can probably eliminate that part of the problem with the export settings in the CAD program (which you don't specify). Look for settings to not include hidden lines (assuming you are exporting from flattend 3D models).


          Most CAD programs have a collection of export options, and there are multiple "flavors" of DXF. Someone needs to know what they're doing on each end of the export/import workflow.


          After getting a reasonable file into AI, try selecting all (excluding Text) and applying the Simplify command with curve accuracy set to 100%.


          Once you get the details ironed out, consider recording an Action to automate the steps that work best. For example, I routinely import DXF files exported from CATIA models and the apply an Action that:


          Selects all text objects.

          Inverts the selection.


          Removes compound paths.

          Simplifies paths.

          Applies a uniform stroke weight with rounded end caps and joins.

          Selects all.


          Selects all Text objects.

          Sets font, size, and weight.



          In a consistent workflow, importing the DXFs and doing most of the optimization (as much as it can be optimized) is pretty much a few clicks affair. Dealing with CAD files when you cannot control the export end (as when receiving them from multiple different vendors and softwares) is always a bit of a chore because of the variables.



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          • 2. Re: Reduce File size on CAD DXF file opened in AI
            Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

            Well, your CAD people must properly prepare the file. That's all there is to it. Apparently they do not and rely on the automated conversion that happens on export. Just like in AI, they can clean up layers before export, they just need to organize them properly. Screws, nuts and bolts, which are usually just symbol instances of library items, should be converted before the export and also put on a separate layer. This also allows to substitute them for simplified symbols, if needed. Likewise, CAD programs offer thresholds for gap drawing or concatenating lines of thin elements (wires, shells) as well as merging coplanar items, points and so on. Additionally, measurements often need to be hidden or manually converted into proper objects to correctly show up and not produce a huindred extra layers. Your problem is not the complexity of the drawings, but how they are not cleaned up before export. It's really that end you must work on to simplify your workflow.



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            • 3. Re: Reduce File size on CAD DXF file opened in AI
              ru73 Level 1

              It's hard to tell from your post what the problem might be. If you can upload an example DXF file of what you are talking about, I can look at it in CAD and give you a more accurate view of what you or your Engineering department can do to minimize file size.



              • 4. Re: Reduce File size on CAD DXF file opened in AI
                Wade_Zimmerman Level 7

                The term I use to get a clean dxf or dwg file from my clients is to simply tell them to dumb it down before exporting.


                They might not be aware you want them to do so since to them it usually does not make sense.


                When they dumb it down they usually give you only the top sheet.


                If it is 3D I usually ask for an eps of the view they want me to use.

                • 5. Re: Reduce File size on CAD DXF file opened in AI
                  JAG1988 Level 1

                  Thanks for all the helpful input. I'll get with the engineering department and discuss all your ideas.


                  I was not aware of the Simplify command. I'll give that a try, too!