4 Replies Latest reply on Sep 16, 2010 7:46 AM by Goldenbusman

    What's the right way to Export to DFX?

    Alex Welti

      I just created a 100% scale drawing of a metal panel I want to have made by a machine shop... The guy at the shop needs a "DFX" file to run his automated milling machines.  I thought "No problem, Illustrator has an export command and DFX is in the list of file formats"... So I exported the drawing, there is a dialog window that asks for a bunch of things I'm not familiar with (like "create outlines from text" ect...) so I didn't change any settings, just left it as it was by default...  I sent the file to the machine shop and I got this reply:


      "Just to let you know, the dxf files that were attached are not true dxf files. What I am looking for are “flat pattern” dxf files. Can you look into that and see what you can find? "


      I don't even know what that means... Anybody know how to do that?  Is this something I can create with Adobe?  Or, do I need some other kind of software?



        • 1. Re: What's the right way to Export to DXF?
          Alex Welti Level 1

          Sorry - I mean DXF not DFX...


          • 2. Re: What's the right way to Export to DXF?
            Kathlene Ruhan Level 3

            Hey There,


            I've worked extensively with DXF files and the biggest problem is that AI can handle them beautifully coming in, but on the other end, the AutoCAD folks have issues telling you what they want coming back. Most can't tell you if they want R13 or R14, nor which version is compatible with theirs. I have learned to export several DXF using a naming convention that works for you (ie: xxx_RT13_256 ME) and have your client decide which works best for her/him. As for the outlining text, you can do that. It is just making vector art out of your fonts so there are no issues of them reading it back... They should have no font issues (nor can they edit the fonts). Most DXF files are more precision engineered than artfully engineered, so the fonts usually are not an issue. LMK if I can be of more help.

            • 3. Re: What's the right way to Export to DFX?
              Alex Welti Level 1

              Thanks Kathlene - That's helps me understand a little better.  I know

              nothing about CAD, but I can create illustrations.  I was hoping I could

              just draw what I wanted to have made and send the metal shop a file they

              could simply run on their machines and save some money on their engineering

              fees for re-drawing the panel over in CAD.  I was hoping for a more definite

              answer, like "click this option", but, I guess it's going to take a little

              bit of dancing to get it done... 


              On the issue of fonts - I want certain labels engraved on the panel and I

              was wondering - I am using a custom font, is it better to create outlines

              from the text (so they don't have to find the font)?  Or should they just

              figure out how to get the font from somewhere?  My pea brain tells me if I

              do the outline thing, there's no chance they could accidentally substitute

              the wrong font or change the size, etc...




              • 4. Re: What's the right way to Export to DFX?

                The cutter wants an outline drawing only. The fills are ignored, the shape outlines are the actual cutter paths. Meaning you must outline all fonts, and if you have overlapped or combined shapes you need to weld them together etc. so that it is one shape. Also, the cutter will not "knock out" overlapping shapes like an ink separation. Do it all manually before exporting the file.


                What you see on the preview screen is not what is important, but what the vector shapes truly are.

                Take a look at your file in outline mode (command Y) and see that it looks proper.


                As for exporting here is the method I use. (posted elsewhere)


                EXPORT DWG or DXF from Illustrator:


                Note: Illustrator will allow for open paths to have shape fills. For instance if you draw two sides of a triangle in illustrator, it will make a fill even though there is no third side. If you want closed paths, ensure they are closed before exporting.


                1. Select FILE, EXPORT, DXF or DWG.


                2. This is the easiest way. Set the Artwork Scale to 1 point = 1 unit. It is important that you select points for this step. Illustrator uses points as the 1:1 scale basis.


                3. Now set the  Artwork Scale from "points" to whatever unit is actually in use. Illustrator will do the math and change the scale.


                For instance, if you are using inches then FIRST set the Artwork Scale to 1 point = 1 unit, then NEXT select inches, and it will show 0.0139 inches = 1 unit.


                1 unit = 1 points
                1 unit = 0.0833 picas
                1 unit = 0.0139 inches
                1 unit = 0.3528 mm
                1 unit = 0.0353 cm
                1 unit = 1 pixels


                Now when the DWG or DXF opens in Illustrator again, or a CAD program, the scale is the same. If prompted you can use the ratio above. I advise sending the ratio with the file. (e.g. 1 unit = 0.0139 inches)