17 Replies Latest reply on Oct 27, 2015 6:26 PM by anthonyt77248951

    Export DXF files not workable

    Liquid-Metal Level 1

      Good Afternoon all


      Im really hoping someone can help me with this as I have spent many hours googling, youtube and many other methods trying to solve a constant problem im having.


      Im trying to turn some vector images into a dxf file for laser cutting and im constantly banging my head against a wall with it as the files just wont work once converted over to dxf or dwg files.


      I have a vector image in CS6 and have also tried in older CS5 or CS4, the image is already a .ai file and all the anchors and outline look fine so I make any small changes like spacing etc, I then try to save as a dwg or dxf in all different save preferences but normally as R13 dwg.


      When I take this or any of my saved files into the cad software the laser machine software does not generally recognise there are even lines there so I started taking it into draftsite and saving as a R12 DXF which works but the dwg or dxf exported out of illustrator have sometimes hundreds of anchor points which where not there when it was a vector or the anchor points are not actually on the lines anymore they are way off outside the drawing.


      How can I export out of illustrator without getting all these problems, I must be doing something stupid wrong out of pure lack of experience with it so appologise if this sounds stupid but would really love some advice and help with this as I have many files I need to get turned into workable dxf files.


      Would appreciate any help and thanks for taking the time to read my post hopefully its not too confusing



        • 1. Re: Export DXF files not workable
          Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

          I must be doing something stupid wrong


          Yes, you are using DXF/ DWG. Pardon the sarcasm, but you are simply exporting to a format that works completely differently from AI and to complicate matters, AI simply only supports a handful of these entities natively and will almost always convert stuff to polylines. It's simply AI's inability to better retain that info. Anyway, most CAD programs will happily import AI 88 files (which supports proper spline curves), so simply use that. And in the long run, simply forget about AI if this is crtitical stuff for CAD/ CAM/ CIM and do it right away in your CAD programs...



          • 2. Re: Export DXF files not workable
            Liquid-Metal Level 1

            Hi Mylenium


            Thanks for the reply appreciate it.


            Like I said im sure its just something I am doing or not doing so to speak, so as you say with Ai files is this the same with .esp files as well.


            Im trying to turn some company logo files into dxf to cut for the company to hand out to customers as the boss likes his little gimmick items.


            Drawing these in cad from scratch I feel would take forever (well for me at least.lol) and the cad software our laser runs with only takes dwg files and dxf files.


            So are you saying there wont be a decent way to take a vector image in illustrator and export it to a workable dxf or dwg file without lots of complications?


            Sorry im new to all this so thought I would come ask some experts


            Many Thanks


            • 3. Re: Export DXF files not workable
              Larry G. Schneider Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              For the extra points it might mean you will have to clear the guides before exporting. As Mylenium says try the AI88 level of saving. Should be in the second dialog on save.

              • 4. Re: Export DXF files not workable
                Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

                As Larry said, I can only once more advise to try importing AI 88 files into CAD. Anything in AI that is not a straight line, an isolated simple path or a circle loses its Bezier magic in DXF/ DWG - AI will convert any shape to a bunch of straight lines if it uses the simplest Pathfinder operations. If you need a continuous path, your only option is to clean up that stuff in CAD. On the other hand, many exporters for milling/ cutting have tools to resample and rebuild curves as do the CAD programs themselves based on selecting the area and some reference points in the geometry, so it may not at all be that difficult - for the little gimmicks, anyway.



                • 5. Re: Export DXF files not workable
                  rushbudgie Level 1

                  Hi Liquidmetal, we use CS5 and use a plug-in called EXDXF-PRO, google EXFDXF-PRO and you will see the site, BABY UNIVERSE. Beware though, circles DO NOT come through completely circular, can't figure why since we've tried every setting there is to choose from. Apart from that, it works straight from Illustrator to our laser software.


                  good luck,



                  • 6. Re: Export DXF files not workable
                    jeffhdesign Level 1

                    Illustrator 88 is not available in save dialog.  Is this an added feature from the "extras" folder on install disk or the Adobe site?

                    • 7. Re: Export DXF files not workable
                      PrintFusion45 Employee Moderator

                      Ai88 files can be saved out of old Illy which is version 7.0 or FreeHand.

                      • 8. Re: Export DXF files not workable
                        Liquid-Metal Level 1

                        Evening all, Thanks for all the helpful replies sorry in my delay been on 12 hour shifts.


                        Im very interested in the plug-in idea rushbudgie so thanks alot for sharing that with me I will look into that and see about giving that a go could be just what im after.


                        As for the Ai88 files I must admit I was a little confused myself im afraid some of it needs to be put in simpleton terms as like I say not been using Illustrator long really and just picking things up as I go along.


                        Thanks for clearing up about vectors and dxf files though as I had assumed they where basically the same thing working off x and y types co-ordinates to display an image.


                        thanks again for the advice

                        • 9. Re: Export DXF files not workable
                          blackeyer Level 1



                          I've been having the same problem for many years. until I found a solution just recently.


                          I'm running illustrator CS3 on mac and need to serve dxf files to a PC with solidworks on it.


                          the trick goes as follows:


                          -ungroup your artwork in illustrator, color only the outlines, no fillings.

                          -go to object > path > simplify > straight lines


                          from there on the dxf will export in a way that my solid works will nicely import it!


                          try if it works for your needs. cheers stefan

                          • 10. Re: Export DXF files not workable
                            blackeyer Level 1

                            Sorry I forgot:


                            before creating straight lines you may "add anchor points" (object > path > add anchor points) until your result is satisfactory...


                            cheers, stefan

                            • 11. Re: Export DXF files not workable
                              Juergen Schrader Level 1

                              Thanks mate, you just made my day :-)


                              • 12. Re: Export DXF files not workable
                                Juergen Schrader Level 1

                                Oh, while we are at it:

                                The operator said the units appear in inches while I used mm.

                                I know that it's a simple calculation but is there a way to do it right from the beginning?


                                • 13. Re: Export DXF files not workable
                                  jeffhdesign Level 1

                                  This is also the method for getting line art imported into SketchUp Pro.

                                  • 14. Re: Export DXF files not workable
                                    jeffhdesign Level 1

                                    If you are looking for another method to preserve curve information, Adobe DXF/DWG will import into Solid Edge 2D (free) which can then be saved out to another DXF/DWG file, with correct units, too.  Solid Edge 2D is parametric, with a learning curve.  I've had similar issues getting Illustrator art to waterjet cutting services, as the Adobe DXF/DWG has "extra" information in the file header which prevents clean import on the waterjet software.

                                    • 15. Re: Export DXF files not workable
                                      CaromVideo Level 1

                                      I convert Illustrator CS5 to DXF for a plasma cutter with success on a regular basis without additional plugins.  Not always, mind you, there is no doubt how finicky this process is.  I'm not CAD trained yet and come from Photoshop so I understand the want to work in Illustrator and the frustration of outputting.  I have spent a great deal of time studying this topic so will share my notes.


                                      The image below is what the DXF looks like when opened back up in Illustrator after outputting.   You can solve a lot of problems looking at it this way before burning time in other software or on a cutting machine of any sort.  This panel is part of a three section fire ring, the holes on each side are for bolting to other panels. all curved to make 180 degrees.  On the cutting software each file always has a random extra line but I don't think Illustrator is at fault with that.


                                      To have ANY success at all as a cutting file all elements need to have no fill (white box with red line through it, noobs) and with some stroke (0.0313 in the image below) so it comes through for the machine specific software to read.  A narrower line won't be read as easily and ends up with problems.  All guides must be deleted and all hidden elements must also be deleted as well or it will show up in a DXF.  This is annoying but just save off copies with that stuff intact...unless you have a better idea which I would love to hear about. Were this Photoshop I'd draw up all 21 required panels with the art on each layer and the frame as its own element and output them individually.  Can't though. 


                                      As well, you need to make outlines of text and other elements (stroke border and deer/tree art in this case) and subsequently merge them all into one group otherwise you'll have cut marks separating elements and making the work fall apart if you actually cut it.   Bolt holes were placed on the frame then one by one sitting above the border object/path/divide objects below to make them actual holes.  They cannot be white fill dots on the black border. 


                                      For the record this design may or may not work in steel. It is intended for 14 gauge material.  It is connected at the antlers, the question is if the tree will stand on its own OK or if it should be partially merged with the edge or top of the frame. 



                                      • 16. Re: Export DXF files not workable
                                        timw79 Level 1

                                        CaromVideo i know this was years ago. but i'm also using a plasma and having the same issues. any chance we could get in touch?

                                        • 17. Re: Export DXF files not workable
                                          anthonyt77248951 Level 1

                                          I'm starting to get Illustrator CC generated dxfs cut by laser operators who only use CAD. Having similar issues. I'm no expert at all, but trying to learn and help others.


                                          The operators told me they don't modify my dxf, but it is possible to do so in CAD. They don't want to do this because it slows their process down which is fair enough when they're dealing with big projects also. I asked how the job would actually look like when cut and I was sent a pdf. It was made up of the 'polylines' that Mylenium mentioned (where the supposed curves are made up of many little straight lines). You can see them when you zoom into the pdf. I asked why this is so (I think it was just a preview). Then later, he did something in CAD (I think) saying: "We simply resave as lines and arcs not splines or polylines." I don't know if thats a function that can be done in CAD, but I'm guessing so. After that, another pdf was sent to me and when I zoomed in the curves were nice. Only one letter was a little 'jagged' where CAD did its 'resaving' as lines and arcs. I felt it was ok enough to proceed with the manufacture. Btw, I outlined all text, removed fill.


                                          I did find this program for sale, but don't want to invest in it at the moment. "pdftocad" it is called. I've been told there are a few software programs like this to access, some free. It reckons it changes any computer-generated pdf into cad (dxf/dwg?) files for applications such as laser cutting machine work. pdf2cad - Visual Integrity - Convert PDF to CAD - DXF, DWG and HPGL If anyone has used it, please let me know how good it is.


                                          It's a tough task, Illustrator CC dxf.s to CAD interpretation/conversion and I wish Adobe or CAD had some proper instructions somewhere to refer to (incl different cad version specs), as opposed to poor souls like us guessing and trying to work things out with partial successes.


                                          Goodluck all.