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DXF to DWG: How and Why to Convert Your Files

Man using computer keyboard - Convert DXF to DWG

DXF and DWG are files with a shared history, but that certainly does not mean they are interchangeable. Sure, they have many similar qualities, but you should be aware that they are suited to slightly different uses. Particularly if you want to make the most of AutoCAD, this is a handy conversion to know. The good news is that the process itself is very simple!

In this guide we’ll cover the basic qualities of DXF and DWG, and why it can be useful to convert from one to the other. Plus, we’ll show you just how easy the process can be when using Scan2CAD. No matter your industry or area of interest, these file types are incredibly common and useful—so get to know which you should be using!

Table of Contents

What are DXF and DWG?


DXF icon

DXF is a vector graphic file format that was created by Autodesk in 1982. It was developed in order to allow people to share designs across different CAD programs—hence its name: Design eXchange Format. The idea proved to be very successful and DXF soon became the standard format for data exchange. Today it allows different industries all over the world to collaborate on the same project, without having to switch between a variety of file formats.

DXF files are particularly useful for people wanting to access AutoCAD drawings without having to use Autodesk applications. They have an open source format and are thus free for anyone to use. DXF files support mainly 2D vector images and are perfect for sharing designs between different vector-based programs. 


DWG icon

DWG is also a vector graphic file format created by Autodesk in 1982. Why did they need both? Well, unlike DXF, the DWG format was designed primarily for use in AutoCAD—in fact it is the native format for that software.

The name is simply a shortened version of ‘drawing‘. DWG files support both 2D and 3D images and are used widely across a variety of industries. As they are proprietary to Autodesk and designed specifically with AutoCAD in mind, the downside is that not all programs will be able to read DWG files.  

Why would you want to convert from DXF to DWG?


Wave Background - DXF vs DWG

As you can see, both DXF and DWG are vector file formats created by Autodesk. They both store mathematically perfect images that can be edited easily and retain their quality at any scale. Given their numerous similarities, why would you want to convert from one to the other in the first place? 

AutoCAD Compatibility

Unlike DXF, with a DWG file you can reap all of the benefits of AutoCAD. It is its native format, after all. Yes, you can open DXF files with AutoCAD and make some edits—but you might run into problems when it comes to some application-specific information. For example, if you’re working with dynamic blocks, these are not supported by the DXF format.

File Size

In terms of size, DWG files tend to be more compact than DXF files. This is because DWG files store information in binary form, while DXF files store information as plain text or ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Exchange). The latter therefore contains all alphanumeric characters, which takes up more space than simple 1s and 0s. 

If you find yourself needing to transfer particularly complex DXF files, you may have to split or compress them—which can be a pain. Thus, you could be making life easier for yourself by converting to a DWG file.

Range of Objects Supported

Screenshot of Shapeways model aircraft

DWG files support images with 3D elements. Image Source: Paul Gausden.

DWG files can store a wide variety of data, including 3D elements and photographs. This means they support information like x-references, colors and line weights.

On the other hand, DXF files only fully support 2D objects. As a result, information can only be stored as lines, text, polygons and circles. So, if you’re working with images that need to be fairly complex, you might find you’re better off using the DWG format.

How do you convert DXF to DWG?

If you’ve decided that converting from DXF to DWG would be useful for your project, the process is really straightforward. In just a few clicks you can have a file that will be able to utilize everything AutoCAD has to offer. So let’s get started!

Here’s how to convert from DXF to DWG using Scan2CAD:

  • Load the DXF file: File → Vector → Load
  • Save it as a DWG file: File → Vector → Save As

And that’s it!

For those of you wanting to be a bit more specific within the process, you also have the option of controlling the export settings:

  • File → Vector → DXF/DWG Export Options…

From there you can make any adjustments you may require, such as changing the font or including line widths. No matter the kind of conversion you need to carry out, Scan2CAD makes it easy to customize everything to your specific needs.

If you’re struggling with the opposite problem, and need to convert from DWG to DXF, we have a guide for that too!

Why should you use Scan2CAD to convert DXF to DWG?

Whether you’re working with DXF or DWG formats, Scan2CAD offers accurate, professional results in seconds.

Scan2CAD’s suite of vector optimization tools give you the power to convert vector formats with granular control on the vector entities you create.

Scan2CAD does not only convert vector to vector formats. The software is the leading raster to vector conversion solution. So if you need to convert your designs in popular formats such as PDF, TIFF, PNG to CAD, then Scan2CAD is the answer.

Animation Converting Image in Scan2CAD

Converting a raster image to DXF or DWG with Scan2CAD


Need to vectorize text along with your images? No problem—Scan2CAD includes Optical Character Recognition (OCR), which gives you the ability to convert raster text to editable vector text strings. 

For the past 20 years Scan2CAD has been focussed purely on being the best conversion solution for CAD. Learn more about Scan2CAD and make sure you subscribe to our weekly email below for our best handpicked articles for designers and engineers!

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