FAQs: DXF Conversion

Updated Jul 26, 2022
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dxf-pdf-layers Want to convert a file to DXF file format? With its ability to be used across different CAD programs, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. You might not know, however, that converting files to DXF is a breeze. So how do you get started? This handy guide will tell you everything you need to know about the DXF format and converting into DXF.

First of all, what is DXF?

The DXF file format is a graphic image format that can be used with any CAD (Computer Aided Design) program. DXF is created to exchange drawings between different CAD programs. It’s a standard, open source file format that is supported by almost all PC-based CAD programs, such as AutoCAD by AutoDesk, Adobe Illustrator, Scan2CAD and CorelCAD.

What file types can you convert to DXF?

You can convert just about any image/drawing file to the DXF file format. Scan2CAD supports more than 20 file types.

  • Raster image file types, like JPEG, PNG, GIF and TIFF
  • Vector image file types, like SVG
  • PDF files
  • Other vector file formats such as DWG
  • Specialized vector file formats such as CNC

When is DXF conversion required?

There are many instances when you would convert files to DXF. It really depends on the original format of your source file and how the file is intended to be used. Some examples of when DXF conversion is required include:

    • To digitize a hard-copy sketch. This could be a drawing produced the old-fashioned way, using pen and paper! We’ve also seen our users convert old drawings from the 90s and early 2000s, such as floor plans, maps and logos. The soft copy version is usually nowhere to be found! In such cases, you could scan the hard-copy drawing and convert that image into DXF.

Abstract Transparent Cube with Blue Base

  • To re-use elements of an existing drawing. It isn’t enough to just scan a sketch – you’d only be left with a raster image, which can only be viewed or traced over. You’ll need a vector image file like DXF if you want to move or scale individual elements within the drawing, copy drawing objects, and make any other edits. Once you convert the image into DXF, you can work with the resulting vector image as you would with any other drawing file.
  • To share files between colleagues and collaborators. Since DXF is an open source file format, it’s supported by almost all CAD software on the market. It’s as easy as sharing a PDF!
  • As an intermediary format. Designers generally choose to create their initial design in the CAD software that is most familiar to them. Take electronic engineers, for example – they design printed circuit board (PCB) layouts in an MCAD program. Once the design is completed, they may have to share it with another collaborator – the PCB manufacturer. This is where the DXF file format comes in. The drawing is saved as DXF, uploaded into another CAD program and converted into the required format. The PCB manufacturer would need to convert the drawing into a manufacturing format (such as Gerber data, ODB++ and so on).


Floorplan before and after DXF Conversion - Raster to Vector - Scan2CAD

Here’s a floorplan – before and after conversion. We’ve used Scan2CAD to convert it from a scanned image (left) to an editable vector (right), and saved it as DXF

Read this article for a few typical scenarios where DXF files are used.

Tip: Using DXF files as an intermediary file format
Always remember to keep the requirements of the end product in mind. For example, CNC machines require for drawing files to have a certain pixel width. Manufacturing formats like ODB++ for electronic drawings only deal with simple X-Y coordinates and shapes. It does not deal with splines, hatches and more, so you have to set the conversion and DXF parameters accordingly.

What software would I use to convert files to DXF?

You could use software packages that are built for conversion purposes, such as Scan2CAD; or other popular CAD programs like AutoCAD or SolidWorks.

How do I convert files to DXF?

It’s a really intuitive process. You just have to open the original file in your software of choice and then save it in DXF format. If you’re converting raster file types, the raster-to-conversion step is a simple process – the computer handles the actual conversion and you just have to run some simple pre-processing steps.

Would all the elements in my drawing be preserved if I converted it to DXF format?

Yes! The raster-to-vector conversion engine will trace the image and duplicate the drawing using vector objects. However, if you’re converting from another vector file format, beware of custom objects. Objects created on certain CAD packages may not be preserved in DXF format. In addition, you may lose a small amount of drawing data during conversion.

Converting Raster to Vector Example

How Scan2CAD and other raster-to-vector conversion software trace images

How do I keep the correct scaling when converting a file to DXF?

If your original file already contains vectors (e.g. a PDF, or another vector drawing file), you can export the scale of these vectors using Scan2CAD. Simply click “File Menu > Vector > Scale Options”. You can export the scale of a vector using three different settings:

  • DPI – The DPI resolution that you scanned the drawing at and its relation to the original drawing scale
  • Distance – The number of pixels between two reference points (or a distance in feet, inches, etc.)
  • Geo – Each pixel represents a certain distance in the X and Y direction

Scan2CAD will prompt you to set scaling options when saving your vector file. To ensure that these are saved, click “Yes”.

How do I reduce the number of lines or node points on curved shapes when converting to DXF?

Vector images are formed of different types of vectors for example Lines, Beziers, Poly-beziers and more. If for example an S shape is represented by lots of little lines it could be better represented by a singular bezier curve. The choice on which vector object to use depends on your vectorization setting.

S Shape represented by Raster Image, Vector Lines and Polybezier - Scan2CAD

Here are the different ways of representing a shape in a drawing file

Where can I find additional resources about DXF conversion?

For starters, you can check out our User Manual. This jumbo 100-page guide covers all of the conversion features you can find in Scan2CAD – from basic questions like “how to save a DXF file” to slightly more complex features like “how to edit raster colours”. You should also learn more about pre- and post-processing steps you can take before and after converting files to DXF; as easy as it is to convert DXF files, there are steps you can take first to dramatically improve the quality of your converted image.

What is Scan2CAD?

Scan2CAD is a market leading file conversion software. It also includes a complete raster and vector editing suite, with drawing tools, intelligent cleaning software and OCR. Check out all of Scan2CAD’s features here.

How much does Scan2CAD cost?

Scan2CAD offers two types of licenses – subscription (pay monthly) or lifetime licenses which let you own the software forever. There are also two versions of the software – Pro and Business, so you can choose a version which has the features that you need. Prices start from $89 a month – learn more about Scan2CAD pricing hereIf you’d like to try out Scan2CAD before you buy, you can take advantage of our 14 day free trial and try out the full range of features of Scan2CAD.

Download Free Trial of Scan2CAD to Convert Any File to DXF

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